Analyzing my mobile app usage patterns and habits

I have a Samsung Note 4. I use it every day. I was actually a relatively late smartphone adopter– I got my first smartphone (a Samsung Note 2) on Valentine's Day 2013.

I'm not a techie or a gadget geek. I don't really obsess too much about tinkering with my devices.

Let me grab my phone now and hit the Home button. This is what I get:

1: Lock screen

The "Be more active" notification is from a Samsung native app, S Health. I literally never bother to pay attention to it. Sometimes I'm active without my phone. It gives me interesting data but I don't need to look at it. How do I get rid of this? Let me see… S Health… More… Settings… Notifications… Off. There we go! I hope it never annoys me again.

Next up… an email from Workflowy. I love Workflowy. I use it every day. And every day it backs up a copy of my work, and sends me an email about it. This is a silly email I don't need to receive. Let's perma-archive it. Gmail… search "Your history"… create filter with this search… check "Mark as Read" and "Skip the Inbox (Archive It)"…

Alright, done! I shouldn't see that anymore.

Let's open things up. I have some notifications from my alarm which I ignore very day, so I'm going to delete those. More notifications from a "movement" app, removing that.

2: Home screen

At some point my Home screen got overwhelming, and so I deleted everything off of it and only added what I used.

  • Flashlight is for navigating in the dark. I don't use it everyday, but when I need to use it, it's good to have it on the home screen.
  • The "526" is a counter I use to keep track of my 1,000 word vomits project. I love seeing the number go up (almost) every day.
  • JEFIT is where I keep track of my workouts. I use it whenever I work out, which is about 2x a week. Maybe it doesn't need to be on the home screen, but it's a nice reminder.
  • Google is for Googlin'. Probably my most used app. Thank you, Google.
  • Telegram is my most-used chat app. I also use Whatsapp to chat with family, but I don't open it all the time.
  • Spotify is what I listen to on my commutes. I'm currently rather tired and bored of my music and need some new playlists, new artists, etc. I'm thinking I should look to Reddit for recommendations.
  • Trello is where I keep my to-dos. I try to make it a point to use the Add Card feature as an Inbox for new tasks, but I haven't actually used that in a while.
  • Workflowy is one of my favorite thinking tools. I'm a paying user, so I get unlimited space, but I happily refer it to anybody who wants to try it out: Free extra bullets for you! I use it mainly on my laptop or desktop, and haven't really gotten around to using it on mobile. Maybe I should kill it from my Home screen.
  • Evernote is mainly where I do my writing when I'm on commutes. If anybody has any great mobile writing apps to recommend, I might consider trying and/or even replacing it. Ideally it would have a word counter built in.

Okay, I've just killed Workflowy and JEFIT from my Home screen since I use them infrequently. Hopefully this triggers me to use Trello's "Add Card" widget more.

2: On to the Apps screen.

Messaging

  • Messenger: I use this to chat with people from Facebook without having to log into Facebook. I do like having this.
  • Telegram: This is the main app I use to chat with my wife and close friends. The thing I love most about it is that it has a good Mac app. It also has hashtags, which I use to track expenses with my wife. In fact, the pictures of my screen here? I got them by taking screenshots, texting myself on Telegram on mobile, then dragging them from Telegram's Mac app onto my Chrome browser in Medium.
  • Snapchat: I hardly use it. I don't have enough people to follow, maybe. I'm 'visakanv', follow me?
  • Gmail: I very seldom have to send an email when I'm on mobile, but when I have to, this is a lifesaver. It's also pretty great how the draft gets saved and I can just continue on it from my browser . I mean, it's common sense but it's still something I appreciate.
  • Skype: Seldom use this on mobile. I remember using it when I was in bed while my wife was abroad.
  • Twitter: Barely use this these days. Unfollowed everybody from my personal account. I mainly use it to monitor ReferralCandy's Twitter feed. I still sometimes ask questions or surface hypotheses just to see what my followers have to say.
  • Phone: A vestigial remnant from an earlier age. Sometimes my parents call me. Or I use this if my wife can't find her phone.
  • HipChat: Work comms.
  • WhatsApp: For family and for some Facebook-averse friends. And for a "just for fun" work comms group.
  • Slack: Mainly to discuss Statement.sg with my partner and interns.
  • Messages: Mainly to receive stupid advertising messages that go into the spam folder. And to receive confirmation messages in 2-factor authentication and such.
  • Pages Manager: For Facebook pages. Come to think of it, this isn't really very necessary.
  • Contacts.

Audio/Visual

Spotify: I get really, really frustrated with how difficult it is to hit the buttons on Spotify (to “Go to Artist, etc) without accidentally playing the song. It has ruined my experience so many times.

YouTube: I really wish it were possible to play the audio from YouTube videos with the screen closed / while using other apps. You make me sad, YouTube.

Gallery: Where my photos live.

Pinterest: I sometimes pin stuff. Mostly I collect visuals of sketches because I want to eventually develop my visual vocabulary. I also put together an "Indian Men's Fashion" board which I'm quite proud of. But beyond that I'm not really a heavy Pinterest user.

Instagram: I used to use this more. I mainly use it to keep track of things via hashtags. I have #visawatchmovie, where I keep track of movies that I've watched (I take a screenshot and add some comments), and I have #sierralittle (my cats), #VSgomakan (when me and my wife eat out), #visanoms (food that I eat– I don't always bother), #visafavmoments for… my favorite moments. I wonder if Instagram has an export feature. I'd like to host them myself on my website someday. Ah, turns out there's Instaport.me. Great!

Layout: A useful Instagram app for splicing together multiple photos into a single one.

Play Movies & TV: Annoying bloatware I can't seem to delete. It looks like I can use this to buy and watch movies, which I suppose might be interesting/useful.

Voice Recorder: Have used on rare occasion to record some thoughts.

S Voice: Never used. I just realized it's kinda like Siri. I had assumed it was some other Voice Recorder software. Huh. Interesting.

Shazam: Used when I want to know what a song is. Not very common, but good to have when it happens.

GTD

Evernote: For writing on mobile, because it syncs well.

S Note: Unused. I realize I could/should use the Stylus.

S Planner: Unused. I use Google Calendar.

Calendar: Actually, I don't even really use this all that much.

Sheets: Occasionally useful if/when I have to read something from work when I'm on mobile.

Calculator: Actually I usually use Google for this.

YNAB Classic: For budgeting. I tend to rely on my wife to handle this, and just message her whatever I've spent $$ on.

Google: Mah n-word.

Chrome: What I browse the web on.

Facebook Ads: There was a period of time whne I was monitoring FB Ads closely. Not anymore, but I guess didn't have a reason to delete it. Might always use it again.

Wordpress: Oddly, I don't use this at all. I've always found to Wordpress login system/structure to be really messy and annoying.

RemindMe: Theoretically a good idea, in practice I hardly ever get around to using this. Maybe I should use S Voice instead. Or message myself. Or Add Card on Trello. I need to think about this one.

Skitch: Useful for annotating images. Hardly use it on Mobile. I think I did once or twice on Evernote or something. One of those "you don't want to have to download it when you really need to use it" apps.

Workflowy: I seldom use this on mobile, but it's good to know that I have access to it if I needed it.

ListNote: I was experimenting with this for its voice dictation feature.

Read:

Medium: I like the idea of it, but most articles aren't great. I keep it around anyway I guess because the reading experience it at least kinda pretty. It seems like every month or every couple of months or so there's something decent to read.

Quora: Used to be a big fan. It's gotten hard to find good quality things. Yishan Wong hardly posts any more. I still sort of keep the app as a sort of hopeful gesture that we'll someday get back to the glory days.

Pocket: Semi-decent list of things that I've saved to read later. I do actually get around to reading them, usually when I'm waiting for a bus or in a queue for groceries or something like that.

Goodreads: Terrible app. I believe I downloaded it once because it allowed me to scan my books' ISBN numbers. But that was such a painful and tedious experience. I think I'm going to delete it. Somebody please fix Goodreads or make something better.

Imgur: Great to browse through mindlessly for quick laughs when there's no bandwidth to do anything else. It's got the same sort of addictive dynamic as Tinder. I wish there was a Trello app or function or something similar for GTD that allowed you to cycle through your tasks on Mobile.

Health

MyFitnessPal: My wife got me to install this so that I could track my eating. I… don't track my eating.

S Health: Comes with the phone. Tracks my daily steps or something like that.

Fit: Comes with the phone too. Tracks heart rate if I want to.

Moves: Tracks my daily movements + locations. I'm using this because I might find the data interesting or useful some day in the future.

Runkeeper: For tracking runs. Haven't run in a while, since I started hitting the gym instead.

JEFIT: For tracking gym workouts.

Storage

Dropbox: Has been over capacity for a long time, which has been really annoying me. I need to get around to deleting some videos and pics. I guess I'll do that tomorrow.

Drive: For work.

Navigation

Uber: I used to use GrabTaxi more, because I had this perception that it was cheaper. But then the app started screwing around with me, insisted that I hadn't registered and asked me to register over and over again, then finally it blocked me for "suspicious activity" or some stupid shit like that. So I just use Uber. It's simple, the drivers are nice, I've never had a bad experience, and I enjoy not having to talk about money.

Google Maps: A lifesaver whenever I'm lost, and for when I need to figure out directions, make plans, etc.

Settings

Play Store: The Construction Yard of apps. The app that makes more apps.

Clock: Clock.

Settings: Settings.

My Singtel: Shows me my phone / data usage.

Pushbullet: I use this to get notifications from my phone to appear on my Mac.

Google Settings:

Flashlight: Flashlight.

Twilight: The Android substitute for Flux. Useful when I want to read in bed. Although I really just shouldn't read in bed.

1Password: I use this on Chrome, and it's great. I can't use it for Mobile yet until I clean out my Dropbox.

ARE YOU SURE

Facebook: The Folder title makes me laugh. I used to be a serious Facebook addict, posting dozens of comments and checking in probably a hundred or more times a day.

I went cold turkey and weaned myself off of it, and since then I use it mainly to check in on what's going on with my friends, and post the occasional question. Also I find it useful to have Messenger.

Well, that's it for now. I'll update this from time to time if I change my mobile apps / routines / habits / patterns.

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