On iPhone Home Screen Organization, Targets and the Opposable Human Thumb

A few days ago, Ben Brooks wrote a piece on how he organizes his home screen, based on usage. I do the same thing, but in a very different way. Here’s a screenshot of my iPhone’s home screen:

I’ll explain that green box in a second.

As you can see, I keep things simple.

I keep an empty row between my apps and the Dock. This not only de-clutters my home screen, but gives me substantial space in which to swipe to Spotlight or to my second page, without accidentally opening an app.

I almost always use my iPhone with one hand. I cradle it in the palm of my right hand, and use my thumb to most anything that doesn’t include lots of text entry.

Since I use my thumb, it’s very easy to reach the center of the iPhone’s display without too much effort, or feeling like I’m going to drop the phone.

As such, I place my most-used applications in the center of the screen, with less vital ones further out. The green box I overlaid on the screen shot shows the primary target area I can reach with my thumb, while cradling the phone. Since my apps just take up the top three rows, they form a great little rectangle, making it easy to tap the top of the OmnniFocus icon, for example, to launch the app.

So, why are Phone, Mail, Safari and Settings in the Dock? I’d rank my usage of these 4 apps on my iPhone as lower than the apps I have above the Dock (even on the outer edges of the rectangle), but above the apps I’ve mercilessly stuffed into folders on my second home screen.

Also, I rarely use the apps in my Dock while walking down the hall, so it’s not a big deal to use both hands while at my desk or on the couch.

Just for kicks, here’s what my second home screen looks like:

I know all of this is pretty silly. But by tweaking my setup over the years, I’ve gotten to a point where I can easily and simply hop into an app, do what I need to do, and get out, all with one hand. That saves time, which adds value to my life. Isn’t that what all of these fancy gizmos and apps are supposed to do?