By Dan Moren
July 31, 2017 3:50 PM PT
What I Use: What’s in My Dock: iOS Edition
Last month I talked a bit about how I have the Dock set up on my Macs. (Well, at least on the Macs I use everyday—my Mac mini server is a totally different story.) But let’s change gears just slightly and instead talk about iOS devices.
The iPhone: The iPhone dock is, of course, pretty limited. With room for just four apps, you have to be extremely selective about what earns a place in the Dock, and I can already feel the eyes upon me for some of my choices. But let’s get it out of the way:
Phone: Yes, that’s the Phone app. I get it, you don’t make phone calls anymore. Neither do I! And yet it’s proved difficult for me to wrest the Phone app from my Dock, if only because when I do want to make a phone call, I don’t want to have to dig around to find the app. No, I don’t use it every day, but I think I would feel weirdly unanchored without it in the bottom left corner of the Dock there. Perhaps someday it will find itself replaced—but, for me anyway, that day is not yet here.
Mail: Just like on the Mac, Mail remains one of my go-tos. No matter how much communication I do through Twitter, Slack, or Messages, my email is still the lifeblood of my work everyday. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, and generally the last thing I check at night. So it’s earned a place on that Dock.
Safari: This also kind of mirrors my Mac setup. Safari’s is one of those all-purpose apps that I need all the time. So much stuff gets done on the web that it feels weird not to have it always at my fingertips. Much as other apps have replaced some tasks that I do in Safari, there’s still plenty that I use the browser for.
Settings: Let’s bookend this with another controversial choice. Look, I know, Settings isn’t sexy, but it’s a workhorse. Even though Apple has added quick access to some of its features in Control Center and Siri, there are plenty of settings that I find myself needing to tweak on a regular basis—especially given my work as a tech journalist, where I often need to open up Settings to get a screenshot or test some feature or other. Certainly as long as I can’t 3D Touch on the Wi-Fi icon in Control Center to change Wi-Fi networks, I’ll be keeping Settings front and center.
The iPad: The iPad Dock offers a little more flexibility, especially under iOS 11, but it still doesn’t have the flexibility of the Mac’s Dock. The first thing you’ll note is that I don’t use the iPad Dock to its full potential—I’ve only got five apps on it instead of the maximum of six. Part of that is because choosing a last app to fit on there is just oh so difficult! There’s so many choices. But honestly, it’s because I usually use my iPad in landscape orientation and I just really like having the Dock icons line up with the columns of apps.
Mail/Safari: Just like on my iPhone, I use these apps all the time on the tablet, so they’ve easily earned their spots.
Photos: I do browse through photos a lot on my iPhone, but there’s no question that the iPad is a much more pleasant device to look at pictures on. To be honest, I probably don’t use it as much as the other apps here, but in the earliest days of using an iPad, it was one of my go-to demo apps, especially for my older relatives. Nice big, vibrant photos is always a good way to sell a screen.
Tweetbot: The only third-party app on any of my iOS devices’ Docks. I just can’t escape Twitter; despite all the challenges of using it in this day and age, I still keep up with many of my friends there, get news from the service, and use it to talk about my own work. (It’s proved invaluable for making connections around my book.) Tweetbot is my current client of choice on all my platforms, though I think the iPad app in particular is second-to-none. It’s earned its place here.
Settings: Just like on the iPhone, Settings is indispensable on my iPad. I frequently need to access any of a variety of features here, so having it always in the Dock means never having to go hunting.
And there you have it! My iOS device’s docks. iOS 11 may change the calculus slightly, especially on the new Dock on the iPad, but I imagine it will mainly be a case of which additional apps make the cut on the tablet. We’ll check in in a few months and see how it’s shaking out.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]