bytesized
01.11.2017

It’s the most coveted real estate in technology — that grid of colorful icons staring back at you whenever you wake up your phone. It’s where our most used and most loved apps live. Despite the chatter about the end of the app “boom”, my homescreen has resisted the entropy afflicting others. Out of the 28 total spots available, 9 have changed from last year. This is what my home screen looks like at the beginning of 2017.

Additions

  • Foursquare: A cleaned up design and the best food and drink recommendations make Foursquare my go-to where to go app.
  • Uber: This was the year Uber really integrated itself into how I get around — I find it especially invaluable while traveling.1
  • 1Password: Waking up to a two-factor authentication prompt that my Apple ID was trying to be accessed from China got me to finally take my online security seriously. With the help of 1Password, I’m now a reformed password re-user.

Subtractions

  • Periscope: Periscope was the app that sat on my homescreen the longest while garnering the least actual use. While fascinating conceptually, most live video is both low quality and low density.
  • Settings: Mostly obsoleted by the introduction of Control Center in iOS 7 this legacy inclusion finally got pushed to the second screen this year.
  • iA Writer: I love iA Writer for long-form writing like this article, but I simply don’t do it on my phone enough to warrant it’s inclusion on page one.

Replacements

  • Weather Line: This past summer, I started a new job. It’s close enough that I can bike to work, which I love. That also meant that I needed to know if it was going to rain, and when. Weather Line has proven to be a more than worthy replacement for Perfect Weather2. It presents the important information in a clear, easily readable format and offers an excellent iOS 10 widget.
  • Capsule.ai: Since Foursquare split it’s app in two, I’ve been using Swarm to keep track of places I go while warding off the social bits I wasn’t interested in. So when I saw Capsule.ai on Product Hunt it was love at first sight. The location inference isn’t as good, but it’s well designed and I’m not constantly fighting off unwanted inquiries to “Share Your Location With Friends!”.
  • Castro 2: The gentlemen over at Supertop Squid released a new version of their already excellent podcast app Castro. Castro 2 helps you organize and prioritize your podcasts using a clever inbox and queue system.
  • Spark: While I was using Outlook when the ball dropped on 2015, I spent most of the year using the excellent (and confusingly named) Email3 by Easilydo. But when Readdle released an excellent Mac version of their email client Spark with cross-platform sync, I switched. I still find the iOS client a bit clunky but since most of my email management is done on my Mac anyways, the sync features win out.
  • Bear: Vesper4, the meticulously designed note-taking app from Q Branch was shuttered due to business concerns earlier this year. In a category with hundreds of alternatives, nothing filled the void as expertly as Bear. When combined with it’s Mac version, it’s simply the best cross-platform notes experience available on Apple platforms.
  • Facebook: Facebook Paper, the beautifully designed, if slightly awkward5 app from Facebook’s now defunct Creative Labs division was also shut down this year. There was only one candidate for replacement.


  1. I took 15 Uber rides this year.↩︎

  2. Perfect Weather sadly hasn’t been updated since June of 2015.↩︎

  3. In an iOS only vacuum, I think that Email is the best iOS email app.↩︎

  4. Vesper is still available for download on the App Store but no longer has a sync service and is no longer being developed.↩︎

  5. A horizontal feed is just harder to scan than a vertical one.↩︎