App Asceticism

I set strange rules for myself.

Take my iDevices. I allow myself no more than two pages of apps on my iPhone and only one page on my iPad. Apple’s lesser apps get hidden in a folder (Game Center — yuck) but, aside from that minor exception, I hold fast.

App asceticism has actually increased my iDevice enjoyment. It has forced me to think carefully about why I want these devices and about what role they play in my life. Reducing app clutter has also reduced device distractions; I’m more focused on the few tasks I genuinely care about.

The iPad is primarily for reading. My iPad “home row”:

my iPad home row

(I’m a recent convert to iBooks; version 1.5 adds three beautiful fonts and has a non-skeumorphic fullscreen mode. Also: what is up with some Kindle books and their terrible typography, amiright?)

The iPhone is multipurpose, but there’s a lot of emphasis on short-form communication (Tweetbot, Foursquare) and on local knowledge (OneBusAway, Urbanspoon, etc.) It’s also my go-to device for music and podcasts.

Asceticism is not without pain. I’m constantly removing apps from my iPhone. My home screen has two app slots of shame. Land in those slots and you’re not long for my phone. Some recent slot occupants:

flickr eatery instagram path twitter camera

Flickr. I bought an iPhone 4S. I want a way to shoot, edit, and quickly upload photos to Flickr. But this is more about exploring community photos. Gone.

The Eatery. Massive Health’s gorgeous first app provides deep insights if you can remember to photograph everything you eat and drink. Gone.

Instagram. Cute, fast, near-perfect design for getting photos online. But I don’t always want filters, just basic contrast and brightness controls. Gone.

Path. I love Coquette Bold as much as the next hipster, and I think this app is the pinnacle of mobile design. Too bad all my friends use Facebook. Gone.

Twitter. Tweetie was the other app at the pinnacle of mobile design until Twitter beat it with an ugly stick a couple weeks back. Hello, Tweetbot. Gone.

Camera+. Still looking for the camera app of my dreams. This gets close, but the UI feels awkward. I’ll suffer through it for now.