My Mobile Computing Utopia

Yes, I have discovered the mobile computing utopia. It has been a roller coaster ride of ups, downs, changes in routines, different devices, different platforms, new apps, old but reliable apps, multiple sync services and of course experimental workflows. But I believe I finally have it all figured out. 

What is this mobile computing utopia I speak of? Well I define it by the coming together of a device tailored for the user’s needs, a streamlined interface setup and key selection of essential apps that deliver to the user the ultimate smartphone experience. 

#1 What is the right device for me? 

It’s the iPhone 6 Plus 128GB model. Why? It gives me screen real estate that is not cramped, battery life that gets me through a work day and storage I don’t have to concern myself with managing. 

#2 What does a streamlined interface mean to me?

Proper notification setup is key. Take the time to tailor each application’s notification settings for your needs. You will be glad you did. I don’t need tweet mentions on my lock screen. And I sure as heck don’t need to be alerted every time Katy Perry has a new music video premiere on Vevo. Then set up your Today screen. What do you want to see when taking a glance at your widgets? What is important? My step counter is important to me. That’s one example. Everyone will be different. Next, a streamlined interface places the essential apps that I use several times throughout the day on the 1st page of my home screen. If I go more than a day without using the app, it won’t make the first page. This does mean my 1st page is not filled. There is extra space available and I’m perfectly fine with that. It closely resembles how I use my Mac as well with only essential applications sitting in the dock and everything else a few keystrokes away. The second page of my home screen is used to meticulously categorize every other app into folders and separate pages within folders for sub-categories of apps. For example: In my media folder, I have different pages for video apps, music apps and reading apps. Finally, there is my dock. It’s simple. What are the 4 apps I use more than any other? That is what goes here. Here are my 4:

Yes, I still use my phone as a phone. I am a Director of Operations overseeing 60 managers and about 220-250 employees. I need to keep in contact with my key people throughout the day and phone calls make up a large part of that communication. Then there are vendors I need to reach throughout the day. Finally, there are voicemails to listen and act on. 

The Messages app makes up the other large bulk of communicating I do with my team. It’s essential. 

Drafts has replaced my Omnifocus inbox for my “Capture” app. By capture, I mean the place where I put all my thoughts, notes and reminders for processing later in the day. Every time I open the app, I have a new blank page and a cursor for jotting down these snippets of information. I truly undervalued this application for way too long. It is now a staple. 

Finally, there is Launch Center Pro. Much of my day is routine. There are many actions on my device that I repeat over and over again. I have taken a lot of time to set up Launch Center Pro to be the ultimate time saving app for repeating these actions. Whether it be group messages sent out using pre-existing templates, or quickly searching for information within an app buried in a folder on my 2nd page or quickly entering a transaction into my finance tracker, it is a godsend of an app. There is so much more I could tell you about Launch Center Pro but writing a post on it would essentially take the time I have saved using it. 

What are the essential apps? There are 3 kinds of apps that are defined as essential to me. 

  1. The 1st page home screen apps because I use them ALL THE TIME!
  2. The utilities that do one job and do them extremely well. They don’t sit on the home screen because I don’t use them all the time but when I do need them, I want to use them because they work perfectly for my needs. 1 example of one of these apps is Checkmark. This app is extremely good at location based reminders. It offers something other location apps don’t which is the ability to remind me after a designated amount of time after leaving or arriving to a destination. I don’t interact with the app after inputting the reminder. I simply use the notification banner to mark as complete. Drafts and Launch Center Pro are great tools for sending information to these apps providing gateways to the app with minimal interaction. 
  3. Then there are those essential apps that represent the best of any particular category. These would be apps like Evernote, Clear, Dropbox or Google Drive as an example. Netflix, Vevo and TuneIn would be media apps that fall into this category. Dark Sky, Deliveries and ESPN SportsCenter just to name a few more that offer a reliable and quality experience for a particular need. 

I have been enjoying this mobile computing utopia now for several days and I find it to be extremely efficient. I am picking up my phone less and when I do pick it up, I am getting things done very quickly as I am not wasting time with unnecessary page swipes and notification clears. My phone is a tool when I need it to be and a toy when I want it to be. I could not be happier.