I think I’ve said it before, but I love reading and dissecting home screen articles. It’s fun to over-analyze every intricate detail about apps and where to store them on your iPhone and iPad (like thumb length and proximity to your thumb’s reach diameter), and it’s just fun to discover how others use their devices.

So here’s mine.

Is the new iPad Pro my main computer? Maybe. I’m not exactly sure. I’d have to measure down to the minute to determine which screen I’m staring at the most during the day. It’s certainly used more often than my iPhone, but probably doesn’t surpass how much I use a Windows PC at the office during the day. I use the iPad to write when I get tired of looking at the external display in my home office; I use the iPad to browse the internet, message, email, and read my Pocket queue while on the couch or at the kitchen table; and I use the iPad as my all-around communication device when I’m at the office-office.

I’m officially tired of this perpetual measurement of how much I use each device and whether my device “kit” is practical, rational, and fully utilized. Rather than worry whether I’m using my iPad enough, I think it’s smarter to focus on the actual thing I want to do.

That’s my rant about whether the iPad Pro has replaced my main computer. I guess it has. Maybe it hasn’t. Who cares?

Here’s a look at the apps I have on my home screen, which seems to change less and less as I discover apps that meet my needs perfectly.

  • Stocks: It was a rough 2018 in the stock market, but I’m hoping some improvements in stability in the US and a potential government change in Canada will yield a nice turnaround year in 2019.
  • App Store: I simply don’t like auto-updating apps. I jump into the App Store each day to see if there are app updates and I update them one by one. Like an animal.
  • TestFlight: I test apps fairly regularly. TestFlight is so much better than having to deal with betas through email.
  • NHL: It’s hockey season, and I have officially cut the satellite cord. I wish you could watch multiple games at once on the iPad. You can watch up to four games at once in a desktop browser, and the iPad’s GPU is more than capable of handling that many streams.
  • Books: I use Books specifically for PDF management and school study purposes. Apple Pencil annotations are synced to the Mac, which is great for studying close to exam time.
  • Music: I never listen to music on the iPad, but rather use Music to browse and send music to our HomePod in the living room.
  • Microsoft Excel: Basically, Microsoft Excel is the single greatest piece of software ever written. End of debate.
  • Microsoft Word: Conversely, Microsoft Word is a torrential nightmare and my least favourite piece of software ever written. It’s a must-have, unfortunately.
    • Side note about Microsoft Teams: I’m the “tech guy on campus” in the little accounting office, so I have moved the four of us into Microsoft Teams. It works wonderfully within the Office 365 landscape and seems to be accessible to those who are so used to Microsoft’s Office products. I don’t use Teams much on the iPad, but I do have it on my second home screen in case it really takes off.
  • Pocket: I find myself saving more video than ever before, so Pocket seemed like a better fit for this purpose than Instapaper.
  • Pinterest: I’m in the middle of a fashion kick, so Pinterest has become a daily-used app for discovering new looks and outfits.
  • Fiery Feeds: The big 12.9-inch iPad Pro presents some difficulties for RSS readers, most of which are handled best by Fiery Feeds. I’m excited for their triple-pane UI coming soon.
  • Photos: Photos is the iOS image silo, so it’s a must-have on my home screen.
  • Day One: Since day one, Day One has been the best journaling app you can buy. I don’t journal as often as I used to, but it’s absolutely essential for capturing memories of our young family.
  • Bear: I go through highs and lows with keeping notes, but Bear is basically my own personal pinboard. I use it the way Keep It is meant to be used, but I like the added functionalities like Apple Pencil support.
  • LookUp: I only recently added this to my home screen and I’m hoping it improves my writing and reading over the next year.
  • Fantastical: Natural language parser, for the win.
  • Basecamp: For communicating with the Blanc Media team.
  • Slack: For communicating with a few other teams and groups of friends. I’m not in Slack as much as others, and I don’t care to be in it more or less. I do think it’s a superior product to Microsoft Teams, but only for teams who aren’t dependent on Microsoft’s Office suite.
  • Files: The more I use the iPad, the more I appreciate having a files manager app.
  • Adobe Lightroom CC: Editing photos on the iPad is a dream come true. My 2019 wish list for Adobe Lightroom CC: batch copying and pasting of edits. That’s it. Please Adobe! Please!

And for the dock:

  • Messages: I use Messages for less official correspondence with clients, as well as the regular banter with family and friends. I increasingly use stickers, which is both odd and fun.
  • Safari: Chrome just isn’t as good as Safari, even though Safari is the single biggest piece of low-hanging fruit for Apple to tackle on the iPad right now.
  • Microsoft Outlook: Who would have guessed Microsoft’s email application would be the best email app on Apple’s iPad? Not me. I’m still waiting for the latest coat of paint for Outlook on iPad though. I have the new design on the iPhone, but not iPad.
  • Things: External keyboard support in Things 3 for iPad is so good. How I wish this kind of support would come to other popular apps.
  • Ulysses: This is an example of an app that could use better external keyboard support. I hope it’s coming. Generally, I write in Ulysses (as I’m doing now) and I edit in iA Writer. Editing is most often done on the Mac, hence why iA doesn’t make it onto my iPad home screen.
  • Tweetbot 5: I like to keep up with the news (both the good and bad kind). Twitter is essential for keeping up with breaking news, and Twitter’s own app for iPad simply blows.
  • Shortcuts: I could write paragraph upon paragraph about how Shortcuts has changed how I work on the iPad. In fact, I’ll take a quick screenshot of my current shortcut library.

Shortcuts

I’ll keep it brief.

Shortcuts has changed how I work on the iPad and is the main reason for supplanting many tasks I formerly completed exclusively on the Mac. I have been able to move a daily Sweet Setup task of updating our deals page over to the iPad with a string of five different workflows, and I have a range of shortcuts I use to capture blog posts for The Newsprint, alter URL paths when copied from Transmit, and so on.

Putting these screenshots into device frames is also way easier using Shortcuts thanks to Federico Viticci’s handy shortcut. I used to complete this task tediously using Sketch or Photoshop. Now, what used to take 30 minutes now takes less than 15 seconds. The future!

I created two simple searching shortcuts for the App Store and Amazon. It takes the search query, finds the app on the App Store or the product on Amazon, and copies a URL with an affiliate tag to my clipboard. The Amazon search shortcut utilizes an app called Associate to do this. Both work well and meet my specific needs.

Lastly, the pink shortcut at the end of the list is used for uploading imagery to The Sweet Setup’s Wordpress CMS. Jeffrey Abbott created this for his own use and shared it with me, and I’ve evolved my edition of the shortcut over time. This shortcut takes an image (which I drag and drop into Shortcuts for memory purposes), resizes the image, uploads the image with a specific URL, copies the URL to the clipboard, and prepends the copied clipboard to a specific draft in Drafts 5. If I have multiple images, Shortcuts completes this process in a big loop, meaning I have very few button presses to upload and generate all the URLs needed for large image sets on The Sweet Setup. The amount of time Jeff’s shortcut has saved me is probably days at this point.


As I said, apps are added and taken away from the home screen on a weekly basis, and I find myself creating quick shortcuts too often for productivity’s sake. Nevertheless, the iPad is an increasingly useful device in my day-to-day work. If Adobe can bring batch copying and pasting to the iPad, that’ll be another straw that breaks my Mac’s back.