My Home Screen Setup
by David Nason, July 2016
In my recent post about a month spent on Android I wrote that one feature I preferred about that platform, when compared to iOS, was the home screen setup, and how you access apps and widgets. In addition I have recently read some articles from others, particularly on iDownloadBlog, about how their iPhone home screens are set up, so thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and outline my own iPhone setup.
The theory can be easier than the practice when it comes to my plan, but on the whole it works for me. In an ideal world I'd have two home screen pages, but the reality is that I have three.
Given that I have low vision, contrast is very important to me. I prefer to have a fairly dark background on my home screens, usually black with a hint of blue or red. This makes it easier for me to pick out the icons visually. Currently I am using "A close up photo of incredible iridescent blue bird feathers", which comes with iOS9.
From left to right, I have the following important communication apps in my dock.
- Phone - Needs no explanation.
- Mail - I've occasionally tried some other apps, but for the most part I've always stuck with the stock Mail app for managing my email. It works great for me on the whole.
- Messages - I don't use traditional text messages as much as I used to, but it's still gets a reasonable amount of use, and of course I would text some fellow iPhone users with iMessage.
- WhatsApp - My main messaging app. Great for groups and because it's cross platform. If there any North Americans reading this post, I really don't understand how more of you people aren't using this app!
Page one is where I keep all the apps I need on a day to day basis, or that I want quick hassle free access to whenever I need them. There are no folders on page one. I have a tendency to group apps of a certain kind together to an extent, but I'm not particularly strict about this policy. Starting in the top left, with four apps per line of course, the apps are as follows.
- App Store - Handy to have quick access to this.
- TapTapSee - An excellent object recognition app for blind and low vision users.
- Fantastical - My calendar and reminders app of choice.
- Settings - It's amazing how often you can find yourself popping in here.
- Notesy - A very simple notes app which syncs through Dropbox, with the notes showing as plain text documents on the Mac. I know I could use Apple's own Notes app for this, but I took a liking to this one a long time ago and find it reliable.
- Sky News - Not my main news source but a decent app.
- RTE News Now - A pretty good app from Ireland's national broadcaster.
- TheJournal.ie - My favourite and most used news app. Features great VoiceOver support, but I'd recommend it to anyone, at least here in Ireland.
- TV Guide Ireland - From the people at Entertainment.ie, I find this to be a simple and very useful TV guide app, the best I've come across to date anyway.
- Leinster Rugby - The official app for the team I follow.
- Forza Football - An absolutely fantastic app for keeping up to date with football (soccer) scores and fixtures.
- The42.ie - Sports news app from the same people as TheJournal.ie above. In fact the separate app isn't necessary as all of the sport is also contained inside TheJournal.ie, but for the time being I've decided to keep both.
- Safari - Apple's web browser of course. I have a couple of other browsers too, but for the most part I am very happy with Safari.
- 1Password - Great password manager. If you don't already use a service like this, please stop reading this article immediately and go get this app!
- BlindSquare - An excellent navigation app that keeps you updated about your current location, street crossings and nearby points of interest. This isn't an app I need every day by any stretch, but it's nice to have it easy to access when I do want it.
- Dublin Bus - Real time information for my local bus service.
- Music - I am an Apple Music subscriber, plus have some music of my own, so this app is pretty important for me, and I'm very happy with the service overall.
- Downcast - My favourite podcast app for a long time now. I rarely go twenty-four hours without using this app.
- Audible - I do quite a bit of reading, mainly audiobooks, so would be lost without this one.
- TuneIn Radio - Great radio app, and another one I use almost every day, mainly to listen to Dublin's TXFM on the way to work in the morning.
- Sonos - For controlling my recently purchased and pretty awesome Sonos Play 3 speaker.
- Facebook - I'm not a massive Facebook user but would check the app at some point most days.
- Facebook Messenger - Handy messaging app, though not used as much as Messages or WhatsApp.
- Tweetings - My Twitter client of choice on iOS.
My second home screen contains a mix of both folders and apps. These are apps which either don't fit nicely into a folder or that I want pretty quick and regular access to, but didn't quite make the cut for page one.
- Navigation folder - More navigation and transport apps, such as Maps, Navigon GPS and the excellent Hailo taxi app.
- Social folder - More social networking apps, including alternative Twitter clients, dating apps and other communication apps like Skype.
- Productivity folder - Not a folder I'd need to access on the phone very often, but occasionally useful. Apps include Dropbox, Microsoft Office apps and the excellent OCR app KNFB Reader, which is the app in this folder that has the best chance of getting a promotion to non-folder status!
- Utilities folder - A fairly random bunch of occasionally handy apps, such as SpeedTest.net, Apple Watch and Calculator. It's also the hiding place for those never used apps like Stocks and Tips.
- Entertainment folder - Home of video apps such as YouTube, Netflix and RTE Player, as well as the likes of IMDB and Ticketmaster.
- Sports folder - Some additional sport related apps, but ones I don't use quite as often as the ones on my first home page.
- Games folder - I don't actually play a lot of games, but somehow manage to accumulate quite a few of them, so this is where I find them when I do fancy a go.
- Books folder - This folder may need to be disbanded, but for now it's here. It contains Goodreads, which I use to keep track of what I've read and want to read, as well as iBooks and Kindle, neither of which I use very much at all.
- Shopping folder - Contains the likes of Amazon, DoneDeal and the Apple Store, as well as some supermarket delivery apps and the iTunes Store app.
- Finance folder - Paypal, Bank of Ireland and Wallet. Again it's questionable whether there is enough here to justify a folder, so I may look at changing this.
- Food & Health folder - An interesting mix of recipe apps, fast food takeaway apps and health or activity tracking.
- Google - Not an app I use that often, generally going to Safari instead, but I wasn't sure where else to put it and Google Voice does come in handy from time to time.
- Lire - An RSS reader. I rarely use it anymore, but I keep it there with the good intention of using it more! Maybe when Apple News arrives in Ireland I'll use that instead.
- Instapaper - Good app for saving articles to read later, mainly from my Twitter feed.
- iMore - I'm a huge fan of both the writing and podcasts from these guys, so this app is a great way to keep up to date with their articles.
- iDownloadBlog (iDB) - My other favourite resource for all things Apple. These guys also did a great job of making this app fully accessible in recent months.
- Camera - I'm not a big photographer but do use it a bit.
- SelfieX - Allows you to take selfies using the back facing camera with voice guidance. Again I don't use it daily or anything, but it sits nicely here beside Camera.
- Photos - Needs no explanation. Makes sense in this spot too.
- Our Groceries - A very nice and simple to use shopping list app with sharing options. Works nicely for me.
- Weather - Apple's weather app.
- Met.ie - The app from the Irish met office.
- Dark Sky - Another good weather app. It's particular strength seems to be predicting if and when it's going to rain in your local area. I vary between the three of these apps.
- Blank space - I currently have one blank space on this page. As a result this is generally where any new apps I download appear, and may stay until I decide where to move them.
My third home page is where you might say the system breaks down a little. I won't go through the list, but it contains various apps that I am either just trying out, or that I haven't yet decided what to do with. This will sometimes include apps which I am involved in beta testing too.
And that's my home screen setup. It's not perfect but it's working pretty well for me. I enjoy tweaking it, so it might look a bit different six months from now, but probably not drastically so.