More App Shifts

The last time I posted about the various apps I have been using on my iPhone I was extolling the virtues of Mailbox. Well, a few weeks in and it has found its way off my home screen and into an “Alt Mail” folder on screen two. I have become almost obsessed with finding the perfect combination of apps to occupy the first screen real estate on my iPhone 4S. I am finding that to really make it happen, I have started using folders in the dock area. This is something I did specifically foe SXSW this year to keep the half dozen or so apps I was using while there completely accessible. Now I am trying the same idea, but with a folder dedicated to the things I use on the Internet regularly — these are not apps that I want to have clogging up my home screen, but do offer daily value. Another big change is that I have started using Path quite a bit again as it was sa staple through SXSW … amazing how much better an app is when there are actually people you like using it as well. Another little app that has found front page real estate is “Forecast” … it is a web app by the same crew that did “Dark Sky.” The thing I really like about it is that they are trying to build an open weather platform that others can use — not sure if it is time to ring the warning bell for accu-weather, but they should be paying attention.

It has me thinking a lot about an idea I have been toiling over since the Bloomsburg Flood in 2011 — a true platform to empower local news reporting. That is a post for another day, but the idea of an open, social, mobile, and simple to use platform for local news is quite appealing to me me. I continue to think that local newspapers are going to fade away and we will be left with a multi-year local news gap. I’d like to find a way to bridge that before too long. One thing that has been occupying some of my mental cycles is how powerful Instagram is for capturing and sharing digital stories. I posted to the The Bloomsburg Daily’s facebook page today that I am interesting in seeing if people would take instagrams locally in Bloomsburg and tag them with #bloomdaily so we can curate and expose them. I have no idea if a single person will do so, but I think it is part of a larger idea that needs to be tested. At any rate here’s my new home screen in all its boring glory.


Changing Apps


Over the last several weeks I’ve been noticing how great some apps have gotten in the mobile space. I am especially amazed at the number of apps being released by small app developers that are so much better than Apple’s own apps. In recent weeks I have moved from Safari to Chrome, from Mail to Mailbox, and most recently from iCal to Tempo. It is astonishing how much better these apps are at mobile tasks.

And in that is the thought that keeps running through my head — people are designing for mobile to unlock the true affordances of the devices we keep in our pockets. What makes these apps better for me is that they support rapid, integrated, and organized workflow. Mailbox allows me to manage a ton of email very quickly by using gestures to move mail quickly out of my inbox, react appropriately, and stay very organized. Tempo actually seems to make my calendar smart by bringing salient and contextual information to each appointment I need to get to in a given day. These integration and workflow ideas matter in a mobile app so much more than on a laptop. I’m glad that we appear to be reaching the next step in understanding that delivering experiences for mobile are different. I’m simply surprised Apple isn’t the one making that leap — it almost seems the apps shipping with iOS from Apple are light versions of what mobile apps should be just to help people get from the desktop to mobile more easily.