The iPhone Homescreens of 7 Highly Productive People

iPhone Homescreens

What’s a little more telling that just the apps that people use, are the apps that live on their homescreen.

With that in mind, I’ve asked every available AE team member to donate a screenshot of their homescreen – and interviewed them about why it’s set up that way, how they use each of the apps, and what their homescreen means to them.

  1. What’s the philosophy behind your homescreen?
  2. How do you decide if an app goes on there or not?
  3. (for each app) Why is this app on your homescreen? What do you use it for?
  4. (for each app) Were there any alternatives that didn’t make it onto the homescreen?

To make things a little easier, I also put together a PDF file of all the apps mentioned in this post, with the relevant iTunes links… grouped by category! Just let me know where to send it:

Aaron's Homescreen 01
Aaron's Homescreen 02

You’ll notice that every available space on my homescreen has an app – I consider the homescreen prime productivity real estate, and for that reason there should be an app on every available space.

You’ll notice that I have a substantial number of messaging apps. My philosophy is if I’m the one initiating the conversation, that app should be as-accessible-as-possible, and therefore on my homescreen. I have a second page with messaging apps where other people occasionally message me but that I don’t really use to initiate conversations (e.g., WeChat, GroupMe, Viber).

Here are my apps:

2. Banri Tanaka: Minimalist

I mainly use my iPhone as a communication and internet device – you’ll notice that I only have 2 pages of apps, and the first page entirely consists of the default iPhone apps. My two most commonly used apps are iMessage and Mail, and a couple of other messaging apps: HipChat, LINE, Whatsapp.

3. Dylan Hassinger: Kicking It Old-School

My phone is an exercise in simplicity. At the moment, I am still using my trusty Phone 4S (years old!) running iOS 6. This combination is ancient, but its been very dependable for me and I love the small size of 4S. I can’t upgrade to the newer versions of many apps (and many apps just aren’t available for iOS6 at all!), but I also don’t have to worry about sluggish performance, missing features or confusing user interfaces that have affected iOS the last few years.

  • Calendar. So I can glance at the date.
  • Clock. I use this for alarms that I generally ignore 🙂
  • Compass. Useful when traveling.
  • Hello. For saving business cards.
  • Maps. Apple Maps does the job for me. Sometimes I will double check something on Google Maps.
  • Calculator. The classic.
  • Camera. Of course. Editor’s Note: Dylan uses this a lot.
  • HipChat. For work chat.
  • Vesper, Plaintext, Notes and Minotes. I use these notebook apps for jotting down ideas and saving various todos. I wish I had a better solution but I find every mobile note-taking solution lacks a little something.
  • Talkatone. Phone, voicemail and SMS I can use over wifi. I turned my phone service off in 2013 and now only use wifi.
  • Pocket. For articles I will never read 😉
  • Goodbudget. For tracking expenses.
  • Instagram. I loved Instagram before it was cool.
  • Music. For podcasts and music.
  • Messages. For iMessage, which works over wifi too.

On my third screen is apps I’m trying to avoid using or watch my usage. Currently, that’s:

Recently I was gifted with a new iPhone by Asian Efficiency. I have installed the latest version of iOS on it and played around a little but, but haven’t switched to it 100% yet – old habits are hard to break!

4. Marie Borja: Friends and Family

My iPhone homescreen contains my work and personal apps. I manage support tickets and social media accounts at AE – so HelpScout, Pages, Buffer, Twitter and LinkedIn have to be there!

  • Messages. A lot of people are still using SMS/MMS or iMessage to send messages.
  • Calendar. The default calendar app.
  • Photos. The default photos app. It’s in my homescreen for easy access to check what I’d like to post on social media
  • Camera. I find myself taking more and more photos and videos with my iPhone.
  • Viber. Viber is like WhatsApp, and most of my family and friends actually use this app. It’s a great way to stay in touch with them, especially those living overseas.
  • Clock. The default clock app.
  • HelpScout. HelpScout is a web-based help desk we use to manage support tickets. It’s in my homescreen to keep me in the loop on new tickets when I’m not on my Mac.
  • FaceTime. A great way to connect with my son when I’m traveling with the team or even when I’m away for just a bit.
  • HipChat. Our team’s instant messaging app.
  • Mail. The default mail app is synced with my Gmail accounts.
  • Pages. The Facebook Pages Manager app helps me connect with our audience and keep up with the activity on the AE Facebook page.
  • Buffer. Buffer is the software application we use to manage our social networks. I use this to schedule posts to Twitter, GooglePlus and Linked when I’m on the go.
  • LastPass. For team passwords.
  • Maps. The default maps app. I heard that Google Maps is more accurate, so I might change this.
  • App Store. It’s on my homescreen to keep me updated with the latest updates.
  • Settings. I use this most to turn on my personal hotspot when I’m on the go and there’s no Wifi available.
  • Social (folder).

    • Skype. Another great way to be connected with family and friends for free.
    • Facebook. My guilty pleasure! I use FB not just posting to share, but also hoping to encourage and be an inspiration to others.
    • Instagram. It transcends sharing pictures. It is simply my way of celebrating life and shouting out to the world to continue living!
    • Twitter. It is remarkably one of the most ingenious ways to share information to date!
    • LinkedIn. To stay connected with real-world professionals.
  • Notes. The default notes app. I use this to write down Bible verses or passages when I’m in church.
  • Phone. I call more often than I text 😉
  • Messenger. A great way to stay connected with your Facebook friends.
  • Chrome. I use Chrome when surfing the web with my iPhone.
  • Safari. I just forgot to delete this. Haha!
Mike Homescreen

If you look carefully, you’ll notice there’s a combination of personal and work related apps because I believe in the philosophy that there is no work/life balance, there’s just balance. It’s not my iPhone’s job to keep things in perspective, it’s mine. I also make sure that once I get home, my iPhone gets put away and use Do Not Disturb to make sure that I’m not constantly responding to the “ding”. I also have a picture of my kids on my lock screen so when I’m tempted to “just check” something, I’m reminded of what’s really important to me (and it’s not the latest tweet or status update).

6. Thanh Pham: Work and Play

The way I organize it is by splitting my screen in half vertically. Everything on the right is an app I access frequently since I use my right thumb for navigating around. Everything on the left I either don’t use that often or I don’t want to use that often.

  • Photos. I’m not a big fan of the default Photos app. I can never find the right pictures in a timely manner so I’m on the lookout for an alternative. Anyone with suggestions?
  • Google Maps. For the longest time I used Apple Maps and it was great. I switch between Google Maps and Apple Maps all the time but I’m giving Google Maps a try again to see which one I like the most.
  • Camera. This year I’ve been trying to take more pictures so I can remember what has happened in my life. While I also have and like Camera+, I like that the default app immediately stores it in my Photos albums.
  • Messages. Since I text a lot, it’s in my top right corner where it’s quickly accessible.
  • Productivity (folder). A funny reminder what I shouldn’t be doing but it’s there for quick access when I do need it.

    • Google+.
    • YouTube.
    • Facebook.
  • Audio (folder). The last three years I’ve been consuming a lot of audiobooks (Audible) and podcasts (Downcast). The only time I listen to Spotify is when I’m traveling.

    • Downcast.
    • Audible.
    • Spotify.
  • Fantastical. A simple and fast calendar app. I like that you can quickly capture stuff and swipe around.
  • HipChat. We use it within Asian Efficiency to stay in touch and communicate. It has replaced email for us by 99%.
  • Lyft. When there’s no Uber around, I use Lyft.
  • Uber. My goto transportation option since I don’t own a horse, bike or car.
  • SportsCenter. This is how I stay on top of what’s happening in the NBA and my LA Lakers. I open it all the time during breaks and watch tons of videos on there.
  • HelpScout. Whenever I can answer support tickets, I will. I like helping our clients and customers as fast as I can.
  • Tweetbot. It’s simply the best Twitter app. I had to move it to the far left to make it more challenging to open this app since I’m on Twitter all the time.
  • Hue. My place has Philips Hue lights that are controlled via my iPhone and iPad. This app allows me to change the lighting while I’m lazy in bed. It also uses a geo-fencing feature so whenever I’m far away from my apartment, it’ll automatically turn off the lights, or when I get close to home it’ll turn on the lights before I arrive.
  • Instapaper. It’s been my article collector for years now. I know people have been raving about Pocket but I know Instapaper inside out and love the service.
  • TripIt. Ever since I got more into travel hacking, this app (with Pro subscription) has been a huge time saver whenever I’m traveling. I can’t imagine traveling without this app. It shows me all my itineraries, frequent flyer points and who is traveling within my network. It shows gives me updates whenever a flight gets delayed, cancelled or changed so I’m always on top of it.
  • GroupMe. Every Sunday I go to a different brunch place with a bunch of locals and this is the app they use to stay in touch. I seriously only have this app so I know where brunch is.
  • Instagram. My new hobby is to capture parts of my life in pictures and videos. I try to daily share something of my life so I can remember what happened each day and maybe inspire some people.
  • Yelp. I’m a foodie so I need to know where to get delicious eggs benedicts, tacos and Asian food wherever I am.
  • Evernote. The only time I use this app is to quickly reference stuff that I need at a particular moment. However, I do use the Evernote extension in Safari all the time to capture stuff.
  • Phone. For that one time a week I call my family. Do people still call more than that?
  • Safari. My default browser. I’ve tried a couple other ones but nothing has surpassed Safari. Especially now that it has extensions.
  • Drafts. My most used app by far. I capture stuff all the time. If I don’t clear my inbox for a week, this is what happens.
  • 1Password. One of my all-time favorite apps. Seriously, how do people function without this app? It’s huge time saver for logging in, entering credit card details and filling in forms.
Zachary Homescreen

I also prioritize quick capture apps (YNAB, Quick Drafts, Camera+, Sunrise Calendar). However, more often than not, I actually swipe the screen down and search for apps.

And… that’s it!

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