My 2017 Home Screen

My Home Screen - 2017 Edition

As a matter of archiving and historical significance that is potentially only useful to me, I’m opting to share the current home screen of my iPhone on this, the first day of 2018.

Embracing Defaults

As the iPhone and iOS has matured over the last decade, the amount of third-party apps I have used for system-provided services seems to have dwindled. I no longer use a third-party email client because Mail is good enough for my needs. Apple Music allowed me to ditch Spotify. The Calendar app isn’t nearly as good as Sunrise used to be, but it’s good enough that I don’t want to be bothered using a third-party solution anymore.

Probably the most controversial will be my use of the Apple Podcasts app over something else. The Podcasts app isn’t nearly as full-featured as my old stalwart PocketCasts, but I was willing to trade silence trimming for easily being able to tap on a share link and have it open where most podcasts expect: Apple Podcasts.


One constant is that I read a lot on my phone. Apple News has become a mainstay for me as a way to check in on the news of the day (both real and fake!), while also mixing in some of the entertainment and music news I am interested in as well. The New York Times is my go-to in the morning for their morning briefing and for periodic push notifications throughout the day so I know when we have been nuked.

I recently received a subscription to The New Yorker and have found their app to be incredibly well done and now my preferred way to read their content. I still check the Medium app daily as well, because there are a few pearls in their sea of masturbatory posts. I do enjoy their new audio posts feature for members, which is a nice addition for longer reads that I have been meaning to read for a while, but never actually sat down to enjoy.

One change I made in the last year is that I stopped using Pocket, which was probably my most used app of the last five years. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with Pocket, but I found that I would just throw articles in there and never get around to reading them. Queue Guilt is a real thing.

My new system is to either read the article at the time I find it, or open it in a background tab if I know I want to read it in the evening. Each morning, I close out those tabs, even if they are unread.


One of my goals for my 35th year is to get back into the habit of writing more, so I’ve put both Ulysses and Day One on my home screen to try and facilitate that. Day One tracks my journaling, private moments (think Instagram posts , but without sharing and growth hacks), and my monthly and annual goals. Ulysses is where I do the majority of my professional and hobby writing, such as this post you are reading right now.

And yes, I use the official Twitter app for both reading and writing tweets instead of Tweetbot. It’s fine. Don’t @ me.


One break from my “defaults” rule has been switching my photography app of choice to Halide. The ability to shoot manually or with Raw when it makes sense is a major win over the default iOS Camera app. If I need to shoot a video or panorama, the system’s camera app is easily accessible via Control Center.

Halide is the first third-party camera app that seems to have eliminated the annoying delay from launch to being able to capture an image. When I’ve tried (or worked on!) camera apps in the past, I found that the delay would cause me to lose several ‘in the moment’ shots. Either Halide is doing some secret magic, or Apple has finally fixed AVFoundation to not have that delay when using a camera view.

For sharing photos or seeing what is happening in the lives of my friends & family, I still use Instagram. Facebook hasn’t completely ruined it, yet.

A Work-Free Zone

A trend I started around the middle of 2017 and hope to continue into 2018 is keeping all work-related apps and services off of my personal phone and tablet: no work email, Slack, or Asana. The TestFlight build of the TED app is the closest I get to work-related content.

My reasoning for this was to try and create a better separation from work and my day-to-day life. I realized that the notifications and always-on nature of modern work caused my anxiety to increase in ways that I didn’t like. Now, I just check these services when I am sitting at my desk and actually working, versus making myself seem accessible 24/7. If a true emergency does come up (the 1% of the time it is a true emergency), people can contact me via iMessage and I’ll install whatever app I need temporarily if I’m unable to get to my iMac.

Into 2018

If I have to guess about how my phone habits will change in 2018, I am guessing they won’t much. I rarely download new apps anymore as I’ve found the ten or so that suit me. The bar to get people to switch apps is incredibly high at this point.

Forced to pick though, I’d say Instagram and Twitter will be gone by 2018. I constantly struggle with Twitter being both a toxic cesspool of hate and abuse, while also making me laugh daily. I don’t trust Facebook as far as I can throw them, so I won’t be surprised if they do something that makes me delete my Instagram account. Given that I use Day One more for “posting” what I used to share on Instagram, I don’t know if I’ll miss it.

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By Justin Williams

This is a two sentence bio. There are many like it, but this one is mine.