With iOS 11 now released, many iPad users, including myself, are rethinking how we utilize our screen real estate. The reason for this is the new Dock in iOS 11 that allows for quick access to many apps (or folders) no matter what app we are in. We now have the ability to drag and drop these apps to use with multi-tasking. But with this incredible feature comes the question: what do we use our home screens for now? For me, the answer comes from another question: do you use a keyboard with your iPad or just your hands?
Home Screen with a Keyboard
If you are a person like me and use a keyboard case like mine then your Dock is about as useful as pressing ⌘+Space and opening up Spotlight. From Spotlight you can press and hold the app that you search for and drag it to the side for multi-tasking.
Additionally, you can press ⌘ +Tab and switch between apps, or pairs of apps if you run certain apps together, with ease and very little friction. For instance, I use Ulysses as my writing app of choice and Safari running side by side when I am working on my writing. But when I am working on my task management I have Apple Notes and Todoist opened together to see what I have to do and what I have captured to do later. A simple keyboard shortcut allows me to switch between these two pairs and makes the iPad smooth as butter when switching into different work modes for my productivity.
With the ability to easily search in Spotlight and switch between apps effortlessly, the case for needing a Home Screen is very weak. Everything you need can be found with a few keyboard shortcuts and the need to press the Home button is reduced to nearly zero. I decided to test out a couple of ways I can have my iPad set up to maximize multitasking and allow for the switching of apps to be easy to do.
Which brings me to my first experiment, nothing on the Home Screen, and everything in the Dock.
Experiment #1: Nothing on the Home Screen
As you can see in the image above, I have moved my most used apps into the Dock. But all the way to the right you can see a folder which has all of my other apps in it. So if I don’t feel like searching for something, or just want to scroll through all of my apps, I can do so without pressing the home button and pausing all of my work.
This is especially useful for when I am in need of something while writing or researching. I don’t always want to stop my momentum by backing out of something to go to my Home Screen and then go back in to the article I am writing, or the book I am reading. With the Dock I can just check what I have and continue.
Now, this solution hasn’t come without its downsides. With everything in one folder I have to either memorize all of the apps in that folder or dig for what I need, swiping between several pages to find what I am looking for. I’ve tried to organize them in many different ways but no matter what, I am not able to remember all of the apps in that folder to save my life.
Which brings me to my other experiment, and current setup on my iPad Home Screen.
Experiment #2: Some Apps on the Home Screen, AKA Those that aren’t Worthy
When I decided that having all of my apps in my Dock under a folder, or even several folders, it was too cumbersome. So I decided to revert back to how I had things in iOS 10 and tweak it into a hybrid between my old iPad setup and experiment #1.
As you can see, I have two rows of apps and folders on my Home Screen and everything else in the Dock, but the apps in my Dock are those I either use frequently enough that I want easy access to them wherever I am, or apps I use in some form of multitasking regularly. As much as I like the implementation of Spotlight drag and drop, it is still necessary for me to make a deliberate effort to search for the specific app I need, making my progress stall . It is like when you are in the middle of taking care of an important email and a giant notification pops up requiring your immediate attention in order to continue what you really should be doing.
The apps I have in both Docks are virtually the same, with the only exception between experiment 1 and experiment 2 being the one large folder I had in my Dock from experiment 1 is now separated into sub-categories and placed on the Home Screen. This seems to be working the best for me as a large majority of the apps I use regularly are still a swipe away from being available wherever I am working. However, I still have other apps I regularly use available when I make the conscience effort to either finish or pause my current work and select something different to do. Something about having different modes of work I do in separate areas, be it spaces or the Home Screen, helps my brain flip the switches I need to ensure I have the right mindset and attention on the task(s) at hand.
While my solution is by no means set in stone, having regular apps available on the Home Screen and sub-categories of everything else allows me to make sure I have what I need with minimal effort when switching to other aspects of my work. Going from writing and researching an article for Tablet Habit to handling finances and tasks is a cinch with this setup in mind.
I would love to see what you have done with your iPad Home Screens as well, so either comment below with your Home Screens or share it with me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry or use #TabletHabit in your tweet.