Apple, after 13 years, has decided that the world is ready for a change and has granted iOS users the opportunity to have something more than just icons on our home screens.

Widgets are not new to me and I have spent many years using it on Android before accepting the Apple wall garden as my ecosystem.

The struggle for me was how do I use this new feature in a way that benefits me. The struggle is real and most people may leave their home screen as it is. The reason being that we are so used to it. You and I may care significantly more about widgets than the average non-tech person.

Whilst setting up my home screen, the following two quotes came to mind:

Sophocles:

Nothing vast enters the life of humans without a curse

Jurassic Park (1993):

Scientist were so occupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think whether they should

Applying the above to this small part of my life, I approached this as a new opportunity to start fresh and setup my home screen in a manner that benefits me. My biggest issue with my iPhone is that it is an attention hog, and that's entirely my fault. Thankfully, it is my choice how I use my iPhone and for the first time in years; I am thinking this way about my home screen.

Billboard or tranquil home

Minutes after updating to iOS 14, my home screen was filled with widgets and frankly it reminded me of billboards/advertising at the New York subway. An exaggeration for sure, these widgets are beautiful, those billboards are not. Advertisers fill every space they can find to sell their product/service to us. This is not what I want from my iPhone. The iPhone does something similar, gone are the days where the iPhone has nothing to sell. Apple is pushing you towards many of its services and little nudges are planted all throughout iOS. Adding the News widget will nudge you to subscribe to News+. This is not an issue for me as the only Apple service I use is iCloud.

My issue is how these widgets/apps distract me towards killing time rather than using my time to read, write and learn etc. If I have free time, I want to use it wisely. We all only have 24 hours in a day.

I want to tailor my home screen so it's tranquil, freeing and distraction free. With that in mind, the following is my home screen:

Left:

This is my shortcuts hub. The only reason the calendar and weather widgets are present is to improve reachability of my shortcut widgets.

PHU - one click to my daily conference calls1

Mediate - shortcut menu for my morning and evening mediation. It sets my phone on DND, connects to the AirPods and opens Headspace.

App Updates - takes me to the App Store Updates page. I enjoy reading release notes.

Seven - daily workouts on the Seven app. This app is fantastic and contributed to my 88lbs weight loss.

The next set of 4 shortcuts are what I am hoping will change how I use my phone. Because there are no apps on the home screen, I use these four shortcuts as a question to what I want to do.

What do you want to write? - opens a menu of writing apps: Apple Notes, Ulysses/iA Writer, Notion, Drafts

What do you want to listen? - Sets the listening device (AirPods, HomePod, Sonos) and opens a menu of audio apps: Spotify, Endel, Portal, Castro, Blinklist

What do you want to Read? - opens a menu of reading apps: Kindle, Pocket, Libby

Kill Time - opens a menu of social media apps - Twitter, Tweetbot, Apollo, Youtube. The intention here is that this should be the option of last resort. I will be updating this shortcut to bring me back to the home screen after 10 minutes limiting my kill time.

Should you want any of these shortcuts, please hit me up on twitter - @MereCivilian.

Middle Page: Main home screen

This is a calm and distraction free home where the widgets only provide happy/good information. This includes:

Last Page:

This is my dashboard of most-used apps. The widgets (Things 3 and Weather Line) bring other app icons to the bottom of the screen. Both widgets are beautiful and provide information that is relevant and useful to me.

Summary: This, by no means is my final setup but I will be rocking it for now and I hope that that my tranquil iPhone will be even more joyful to use.

iOS 14 is a great opportunity to rethink your current setup, start from fresh and reconsider how you can use iPhone as a useful tool that actually benefits you.


Used to be twice a day and with constantly pushing back, its daily. 🤞 for weekly ↩︎