03rd June 2018

With iOS 12’s imminent announcement, I thought I’d prepare myself for a new way of using my devices.

For months now, I’ve been trying to refine my use of my devices, apps, and services that I use. But I think a different approach is needed, and I hope that future OS updates will help me along the way.

The method I’ve been using for a while is quite a harsh one, where I disabled notifications, and everything associated with them, on nearly all applications. Along with getting rid of some apps/services that I don’t think provide any value.

But while I think this has been a step in the right direction, I don’t think it’s a particularly accurate way to achieve my goal of adapting my devices to my needs, and for it to provide me with the most value as possible.

That’s why I’ve now done a complete reversal and turned on all the notifications, and possible distractions on my iPhone. In the short term, I’m hoping this will let me find out where I don’t need to be spending my time and also see if there is any value to them. I mean, I know notifications can be valuable, but I want the right balance. And by turning them all off, I’m potentially missing out.

So tonight, I’ve already gone through a few apps to disable types of notifications, and in some cases, just deleted the app entirely. For example, I have an app for a restaurant I go to maybe once every two months, but they send at least one offer notification every single day.

What I’m majorly hoping for in the next iOS update, are pretty minor things. With the ability to group notifications having the highest priority. I can’t even bear thinking about the types of apps that would benefit from this, because it’s probably all of them. I also think there can be improvements made to the way notifications are visualised. Because even grouped, it’s still just a list.

Then there’s priority, not all bits of information are equally useful. And if they are, you might not need to know about it right now. Things like iMessages are more important than likes on an Instagram post, and work emails are certainly not relevant out of work hours, or maybe even a work location. So there’s a lot of work that can be done here, involving sorting, filtering, and queueing/snoozing.

If all of these issues are “resolved”, then I think the way devices are experience, and even used, will change quite a lot.

There’s also one more tool that would be able to help focus your device usage on a bigger scale, and that would be a way to monitor/visualise your usage, or habits, system-wide. Of course, you can kind of track this by using the battery analytics that tells you the time on screen for apps, but I want it better, and more in my face. Because more insight can only be better.

This is, of course, a long-term goal, and maybe more of a process. But I plan to write about my journey of focusing my usage of devices, and in general, refining my life to maximise value.

I have a few more ideas that I want to try soon, so you’ll find these here only blog as well.

12th July 2017

Michael Rockwell, over at Initial Charge write a piece about a really interesting way to give web apps a more native feel on iOS.

Firstly, he mentions Fluid, which is an application for macOS which lets you “convert” web apps into containers that run as normal apps:

On macOS, there’s an application available called Fluid, which lets you create site-specific web browsers. Many of us use web apps everyday and Fluid allows you to run them side-by-side with your native applications without being sequestered inside of a web browser. Fluid is a handy little tool that every Mac user should have in their arsenal.

I hadn’t heard of Fluid before, so I’m going to try this myself, but it’s not as good as his next suggestion for iOS:

To build these site-specific browsers, it just takes two simple actions — a URL action with the web app’s address and the Show Web Page action. When run, Workflow will open up the URL in a Safari View Controller, which gives you access to your action extensions alongside forward, back, and refresh buttons. From there you can give the workflow a name, set an icon color, and a glyph to fit the website or web application’s functionality.

So, he uses Workflow! It’s something I haven’t thought at all about before, but it makes sense. You can use the standard Safari View Controller inside Workflow, or you make partner it with apps like Sidefari, or maybe even add another layer to it with Opener.

I’ve actually just set one up myself to handle my the interface for this blog, which runs on Ghost.

Whether you use macOS or iOS, there’s a solution for you in this post!