The 20th App


I’m a creature of habit. I rarely — rarely — change the apps on my homescreen. And lately, I’ve been thinking: this seems unfair.

Given my job and my own personal interest, I’m obsessed with finding the next app that will become the first app I check in the morning. But that’s a lofty goal — perhaps too lofty. Finding an app that’s simply good enough to reside on my homescreen seems like a massive opportunity by itself. But again, the odds are stacked against this ever happening.

Why? Because the app ecosystem is quite mature and it’s hard to imagine any new app coming in and taking one of the first 20 slots (not including the four slots in the dock, which is another level entirely) which have been built up over years of iPhone usage.

So I’m trying something new.

Going forward, I’m going to leave one of the 20 slots open for rotation. That is to say, 19 of the apps on my homescreen will be firmly established and hard to displace, one will not. That one slot I intend to rotate a new app in to and out of on a regular basis.

I’ve thought about this a lot in my testing of apps throughout the years. An app can be really good, but unless it’s on my homescreen, I simply often forget to use it. Lame, but true. And I know I’m not alone. Out of sight after you immediately unlock, is out of mind.

Maybe some features of iOS 8 dissipate the dominance of the homescreen somewhat, such as the ability for apps to show up on the lockscreen in certain situations. But until we get truly customizable lockscreens/launchers for iOS, I believe the homescreen will continue to rule the iPhone.

So this is my solution to put an app through its paces in a meaningful way. This is important since most apps are not obvious without regular usage. Now if only everyone else with an iPhone would do the same…