A new way to organize your phone

The role of your phone is changing rapidly. Your app organization should follow.

Traditional phone organization schemes focus on minimizing steps required to access popular tools like the camera, maps, messaging. However, the number of potential tool apps has surprised what can be stored and recalled on a few screens or using folder strategies. Happily, top-level app search tools on both Android and iOS are now sufficiently functional to allow for easy access — assuming you can remember the app name.

Concurrently, many apps are emulating Facebook and reorganizing around a feed-based system in which users are dripped a steady stream of objects to consume based on an algorithm or explicit user categorization. Photos, video, commentary, even your friends workouts, are queuing up in lines for your attention.

Love it or hate, digital life is quickly evolving into a frantic attempt to stay on top of these ever growing feeds of new stuff.

With this in mind, I propose a new phone organization system in which pure tools are demoted to the background to be searched out when needed. A possible exception would be the docked area at bottom, where uber-important tools, accessed hourly, might go.

By placing only feed-based apps on your home screen, your slavish task is now much clearer and (somewhat) manageable. Any downtime or concerted feed-reading efforts can be quickly built around visually moving through your queue. To aid in this effort, I place similar feed types in rows and place the highest priority apps on the right for easier access.

Importantly, I think this is only a transitional organization strategy while our app overlords jockey and compete to become the face (pun-intended) of their vertical. In other words, as feed-based content is centralized and redirected into fewer apps, this organization becomes less useful. Eventually, perhaps we can just rely on OS-level notifications for this purpose.

While everyone’s feed-based apps will vary, here is what my feed queue looks like currently:

Social/News: 
Facebook
Feedly
LinkedIn
Twitter 
Instagram

Reading/Analysis
Pocket
Nuzzel
The Economist
Medium
Kindle (yes, a bookshelf is a feed)

Video
PlayerFM
SoundCloud
DatPiff
TuneIn (no, not really a feed)
Spotify (ditto)

Video
YouTube
Hulu
HBO
Vevo
Vine

Misc
NextDoor
Strava 
Weather (NWS)
Messenger
Play (for finding more feeds!)

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