iOS Homescreen 2024

The homescreen I described last time has stayed pretty relevant for a long time, but the most recent iOS update added some new features and so it has evolved. It's essentially all the same functionality and applications, just moved around a little bit to prevent me from getting sucked into my phone.

The goal of previous iterations has always been the "magic button:" Can I set up my device so that I touch it once and then put it down? Because of iOS17's new features… I can achieve 80% of that without even unlocking my phone.


The lockscreen now contains the layer of my device intended to "quickly capture" a thought, task, or event. Ideally I do one thing on this layer, then bounce back into the real world without being sucked in.

lockscreen lockscreen-notification lockscreen-launcher

On top: Fantastical shows the upcoming calendar item.

Below the clock: four "complications" left to right:

  1. Launch Overcast (my podcast app)
  2. Start Dictation to Drafts
  3. Start Writing to Drafts
  4. Launch Headspaces

Interactive widgets are a game-changer. I can pick up my phone, throw something into Drafts, and put it down without even seeing all the notifications, applications, or any other distractions.

The Headspace Launcher is the same shortcut I've written about using shortcuts and headspaces in a new location.

I have noticed that (with my iPhone 13 Mini) there seems to be some kind of time out that can keep a longer running lockscreen shortcut from finishing. I don't have a clear answer, but I have noticed that if the phone is unlocked, there is no timeout.1

Therefore it's pretty common for me to pick up my phone, faceID unlock, I hit the launcher and then immediately swipe up to "unlock" the phone, but I'm really still seeing the Launcher menu and executing one thing.

It's not perfect, but it works. 🤷

As it is, 95% of the time I pick up my phone, I touch one icon on the lockscreen and never reach the next layer: the homescreen.


My homescreen is the simplest it's ever been.


Using the giant Things widget and being able to check off items from the Homescreen has helped me stay on task.

It contains only the three applications that hold the deeper database of my systems: Fantastical for time, Things for tasks, Obsidian for thoughts.

This layer answers the second reason I pick up a mobile device: querying into the systems that run my life. Because the previous layer of the lockscreen answers 99% of all "quick actions" I pretty much only unlock my phone to do that deeper query, and I rarely drift into deeper querying when my original intent was "quick-add".

It's been great.

Removing Messages and Phone from my Dock was a weird change. However my friend group has slowly split up along the Messages/Signal/Telegram battlefronts, so I was frequently deciding where to message someone. As it is I typically start conversations using Siri anyway.

Because my notifications are so restricted, my Notification Center is messaging anyway, so that provides a way to re-enter conversations.

Obsidian continues to be more useful for me… I use it as my digital bible now that I pay for Obsidian Sync and it loads faster than most other Bible apps.


The only thing left is the widget panel, which I use for a few things that don't quite fit, but are nice to have. Kind of a utilities folder of specific logging tools for on the go.

widgets widgets-weight

From top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Locket is photos of my loved ones.
  2. Shortcut for recording my weight in the morning.
  3. Charty Widget that shows rolling average of weight.
  4. Foodnoms for recording food/water
  5. YNAB for recording transactions
  6. Battery Widget

The Weight Shortcut and Chart are an updated version of one I wrote up in 2020. Update Weight now calls the shortcut that builds the Chart and updates the widget, so this screen has a pretty powerful accountability tool without it being in my face all the time.

I am happy with this setup and have been using it since the update in September.

The "layers" concept has been helpful for mental organization and to keep me from floating away into the infinite expanse of digital distraction2. The Headspaces being exactly the same system on desktop and mobile allows me have the same time-tracking tools everywhere.

As usual… don't copy 100% my setup. Take some principles and try them on for size. If you do nothing else, auditing and harshly restricting your notifications so that you are only buzzed for something truly important is the best thing you can do for your focus.

Prior Art

  1. Joschua linked me to this stackoverflow post on the same topic. Seems there's some places on the screen you can keep touching to keep the screen alive too. 

  2. I'm also using to create an additional layer of friction for websites that distract me. 

  • 2024-01-08 08:28:23 -0600
    Add Joschua's insight

  • 2024-01-05 12:04:56 -0600
    Finish the article

  • 2024-01-05 11:40:38 -0600
    Adding comment

  • 2024-01-05 11:39:24 -0600
    Continuing to work on the article

  • 2024-01-05 08:56:24 -0600
    Start a blog post for homescreen