Why I like Apple HomePod

Apple is back into the home speaker market (some might remember the iPod HiFi from 2006), at a time when when others have become more established.

This week, Apple announced HomePod to reinvent home music. In addition to providing great sound, expanded AirPlay 2 functionality, and secure voice control, there’s one single reason why I like HomePod – usability.

Contemporary music listening enthusiasts will be familiar with the usual products (e.g. Sonos, HEOS etc.) that integrate to your home network, and connect with streaming services (e.g. Apple Music, Spotify etc.).

As familiar as we have become with the app interfaces of these products and services, users have to exit from their phone’s native music app (e.g. Apple Music) and open a third-party home music system app (e.g. Sonos). Although this is relatively easy, it requires an additional third-party step to enjoy music.

With Apple HomePod, the music listening experience is now complete. Users will simply use Apple Music via the native app or by Siri voice control, to enjoy music however and wherever they want.

For the smart home, Apple HomeHub becomes an integral component of Apple Home to integrate an already mature range of compatible smart home products and systems.

Even more, the HomePod will provide a higher level of intelligence for your smart home. Siri will have improved learning capabilities, opening a realm of future benefits to enhance your lifestyle.

Enjoying music and controlling technology in the home is about to become more usable, more intuitive, and more simple.

What’s on my iPhone – Part 3, The Folder Screen

Continuing and following my What’s on my iPhone series of articles (Part 1, The Home Screen & Part 2, The Secondary Screen), is my Folder screen.

Most of my apps are organised into logical folders. These folders are typically named after the primary categories that apps are organised within the Apple Apps Store. I find it very easy and quick to locate apps using this structure.

I continuously review these folders to cull apps that I no longer use, or moves apps into them from my secondary screen or sandbox screen.

Apple Stuff

Apps in this folder are made by Apple. Some are stock standard original apps that I haven’t removed and delete. I use many of them infrequently.

  • Health – Track your personal health
  • Activity – Track activity
  • Wallet – Digital wallet
  • Watch – Watch set-up
  • Apple Store – Stock and availability at Apple Stores
  • Podcasts – I use Overcast
  • Voice Memos – I use Recordium
  • Stocks – I use ASX for local stockmarket information
  • Find iPhone – For when I misplace an iPhone or iPad
  • Apple Support – Support resource. Make Genius appointments
  • iCloud Drive – Apple Cloud
  • FaceTime – Video calling to other Apple users
  • Weather – I use Pocket Weather
  • Apple TV Remote – Control Apple TV
  • Videos – Store videos
  • Clips – New social media video editing app
  • Find My Friends – Can track family iPhones
  • Tips – iOS tips and tricks
  • Compass – When you need to know where NSEW is
  • iTunes Store – Purchase music and movies



  • Star Walk 2 – See something in the sky and want to know what it is
  • TED – Great resource for watching presentations
  • Udemy – Online educational videos
  • Toastmasters International – I’m a Toastmasters member for public speaking




Health & Fitness

  • Strava – Bicycling tracker
  • Runkeeper – Walk, jog, run tracker
  • Fitbit – Fitness tracker
  • CalorieKing – Food calorie library
  • Daily Steps – Integrates with HealthKit to track steps
  • PowerNap – Powernap timer
  • Sleep Cycle – Sleep monitor
  • Fitness Buddy – Gym workout tracker
  • Gym Log+ – Gym workout tracker


  • MARIO RUN – It’s Mario!
  • Angry Birds – its Angry Birds!
  • CrossyRoad – Entertaining and frustrating game
  • Lego Batman Movie – My 5yo son loves Lego Batman


  • Carsales – Just in case I need to buy or sell a car
  • Chipolo – Used this predominantly before using Tile
  • SEEK Jobs – Industry intelligence
  • Dynalite EnvisionTouch – Philips Dynalite lighting control


  • Shazam – For when I need to know the name of a song and artist
  • SoundCloud – Listen to some podcasts
  • Mixcloud – Listen to friend’s mix tracks
  • BackBeat FIT – Integrates with Plantronics BackBeats earphones
  • Bose Connect – Integrates with Bose QC35 headphones


  • TomTom MyDrive – Integrates with my car GPS
  • Google Maps – More functional than Apple Maps for some requirements
  • CheapParking – Finds best value car parking
  • Parkopedia – Finds best value car parking
  • Glympse – Allows other to track your travel location and progress when you invite them
  • Waze – GPS with regularly speed camera locations


  • 3AW – Melbourne talk radio
  • CNN – International news
  • MailOnline – News
  • theCHIVE – The best site on the internet. #KCCO
  • Gadget Flow – Check out latest gadgets and technology
  • Casts – Podcasts. I mainly use Overcast for now
  • Reddit – News and information

Photo & Video

  • Hydra – HDR, lowlight camera
  • VSCO – Photo editing
  • Snapseed – Photo editing
  • Enlight – Photo editing
  • Pixelmator – Photo editing
  • Layout – Collage for social media photos
  • iMovie – Video editing
  • Capture –  Controls my GoPro Hero 5
  • Quik – Video editing from GoPro
  • Scripted – Teleprompter and video recorder
  • Canva – Online design
  • MOLDIV – Collage for social media photos
  • Swipeable – Chops up panorama photos for Instagram posting
  • Panorama – Stitches photos together to make panoramas
  • Downloader – Download YouTube movies
  • Files – File downloader and manager
  • Exif Viewer – View Exif information from photos
  • BlueHourApp – Best twilight photo opportunity times
  • Touch Blur – Blur area of a photo
  • CamRanger – Wireless control of my Canon DSLR from an iOS device


  • Apple Mail – Default Apple mail app
  • Pages – The only free word processor app that seamless works across all Apple devices
  • Numbers – The only free spreadsheet app that seamless works across all Apple devices
  • Gmail – Google mail
  • GoodNotes – Used on my iPad Pro 12.9″ and sync’d to all my devices
  • iA Writer – Clean word processor. Syncs via iCloud and/or Dropbox
  • Doodle – Group scheduled to invite participants with a preference poll
  • Instapaper – Offline web page reader
  • IFTTT – Integrates many IoT products and services
  • Stringify – Integrates many IoT products
  • Google Calendar – Official Google Calendar for when you need it
  • Evernote – Organise notes and other documents to the cloud
  • Skitch – annotate and markup photos and documents
  • Pushbullet – Similar to Safari Reading List, but also to Windows and Android devices to push web links
  • WordPress – Manage WordPress websites
  • Bitly – Manage and monitor own web links
  • Workflow – Automate iOS workflows
  • Sortly – Manage collections
  • Airtable
  • Any.do – Todo and task list. I use Todoist now.


  • ABS Stats
  • Translate


  • ALDI
  • Catch of the Day
  • Amazon
  • the Lott – Tattslotto
  • Lottoland – Play international lottery
  • Coles
  • Coles Express
  • Woolworths
  • Stocard
  • IKEA Store
  • B&H Photo
  • MYER one
  • Gumtree
  • Eastland
  • Lasoo


  • Skype
  • Twitter
  • Twitteriffic
  • Pinterest
  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Repost
  • Kickstarter
  • Indiegogo
  • ASKfm
  • Tumblr
  • WhatsApp


  • NFL Mobile – All the NFL games, scores and standings
  • NFL Game Pass – Subscribe to watch every NFL game whenever you want
  • New York Giants – Go Big Blue!
  • NBA – Basketball
  • Lakers – I love my Los Angeles Lakers
  • Carlton FC – The mighty Blues!
  • AFLLive – Offical AFL app that the AFL themselves have destroyed wth poor design
  • Footy Live – Clean AFL fixture, scores, and ladder
  • Storm – Melbourne Storm NRL team app
  • Golfshot – Golf scorecard
  • Cricket – Cricket scores and news from all over the world
  • NBL – Australian national basketball league
  • Fansided – Sports news articles
  • Bleacher Report – Customisable sports news feed
  • NRL – Australian Rugby League


  • PTV – Publics Transport Victoria timetables
  • Uber –
  • Flightrader24
  • MelAir
  • TripAdvisor
  • Virgin Australia


  • Telstra 24×7 – Manage devices on my Telstra account
  • PayByPhone – Pay for car parking
  • PayStay – Pay for car parking
  • My Data Manager – Track wifi and data usage
  • Synchronize – Time shifter
  • Timer+ – Multiple timers
  • T-Zero – multiple countdown timers
  • Vert – Unit converter
  • Character Pad
  • SalePrice
  • Compare
  • Paper Picker
  • Speedtest
  • Voice Recorder
  • Who’s got What


  • Yahoo Weather!
  • AUS RainRadar


What’s on my iPhone series:

  1. The Home screen
  2. The Secondary screen
  3. The Folder screen
  4. The Sandbox screen
  5. How I select mobile apps

What’s on my iPhone – Part 2, The Secondary Screen

Following my previous blog article, What’s on my iPhone: Part 1 – The Home Screen, I have a secondary screen where regularly used apps reside. My apps always have a purpose and meet my own particular requirements (check out my How I select mobile apps article).

My secondary screen gets regularly updated depending on what I’m most using at the time, or sometimes even the time of year (e.g. the NBA or NFL app gets promoted out of a folder when in season etc.).

Following my personal organisation rules, apps are somewhat organised depending on their frequency of use, and purpose (e.g. smart home apps are grouped together etc.).


Password have become annoying. Every site uses and needs one, and seem to use different combinations of letters, numbers, characters etc. Even then, some require a particular requirement. I’ve been using 1Password for years across all my devices. It syncs using iCloud, Dropbox etc.

I’ve been using Dropbox for years. It’s just standard vernacular now; “I’ll send you a Dropbox link”. I store documents, photos, videos and other files, knowing they are safely stored and can be access from any of my devices. I regularly send and share Dropbox link to family, friends, colleagues, and clients. Dropbox integrates seamlessly with everything, whether it’s Windows, Mac OS, iOS or Android.

Google Drive
Being a longtime Dropbox user, I don’t use Google Drive too much, but I use it when I have to, such as when I am provided a Google Drive link from someone.

Recordium is the best voice recorder that I have found. It’s simple and easy to use, allowing you to bookmark parts of a recording and many other features.

Apple Home can control all HomeKit compatible products and accessories from different manufacturers from a single app, and with Siri voice control. I don’t have many HomeKit compatible products, but do have Philips Hue products. It’s pretty cool to turn on lights by saying “Hey Siri, turn on the bedroom lamp”. I would buy other HomeKit compatible products, but many are not available on the Australian market, yet. HomeKit is one of a handful of home control ecosystems that are competing for smart home control of your home.

Sonos Controller
I have a number of Sonos speakers around the house that stream Apple Music, internet radio, and other audio (e.g. Podcasts) from my iPhone. I have had Sonos speakers for many years, when they were the first to market with this type of standalone speaker system.

Philips Hue
Philips Hue is the biggest name in smart lighting globes. Colour changing lights are typically controlled the app. The Philips Hue system is Apple HomeKit compatible, allowing control by Siri. I also integrate some cool functionality via IFTTT and Stringify.

Ring Video Doorbell
Ring is a video doorbell that connects to the internet to show live audio and video on your smartphone when the doorbell is pressed or if it detects motion. Video footage is saved to Ring’s online subscription service, and is accessed via your smart mobile device. I have Ring integrated with Stringify to automatically control my Philips Hue lights. I wish ring was HomeKit comptabile.

Apple News
Apple News provides a customisable news feed. News articles can be saved and linked to popular social media services.

I can always spend spare time surfing YouTube. I subscribe to a number of YouTube channels, following a number of vloggers.

Road Trip
I use the Road Trip app to log my vehicle expenses. It syncs and backs up to Dropbox.

It’s a banking app, that works pretty well. I wish Westpac would get onboard with ApplePay. I specifically opened an account with another bank to just to use ApplePay.

I’m regularly buying gadgets and accessories online. eBay is a great place to see the market.

I constantly misplace my wallet and keys. I have multiple Tile Mates and Tile Slims on various things to keep track of them. I’ve tried many Bluetooth tracking devices – Tile is the best all around product I have found. I wish that the batteries were replaceable, and the reTile program applied to Australia (maybe it does?).

Facebook Groups
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I ‘subscribe’ or join multiple Facebook groups. Facebook Group allows me to follow the group, receive notifications of posting etc. without having to sort through the algorithm curated feed that Facebook forces upon us.

Facebook Pages Manager
I manage my Facebook page (not my personal Facebook page) from the Facebook Pages app. Like with the Facebook Groups app, I can manage my page without the distractions of the curated feed of the Facebook app. I do hate the little flag symbol used in the app name.

Keynote is Apple’s PowerPoint, but easier and more intuitive. I do a lot of presentations, and only use Apple Keynote. My Keynote presentations are sync’d to all my devices by iCloud. I also use Keynote as a design layout tool, and have various custom templates for various applications. If Apple Keynote was good enough for Steve Jobs, it’s good enough for me.

I’ve been reviewing numerous todo and task apps. Right now, Todoist is my app of choice. Todoist integrates with Slack, although only one way. I have only recently changed from Any.do app, if only for the Slack integration.

Slack is a fantastic communication and collaboration app that keeps project messaging all in one place. I use Slack to keep my project teams updated with news, information, tasks and todo lists. Using Slack takes a bit of getting used to and some persistence, only because we have been so used to email and various messaging and task apps. In time, I hope other apps and even Apple operating systems will integrate with Slack.

I’m really just working out Snapchat – how it works, how it can fit into my social media strategy. I find the Snapchat user interface to be unintuitive to navigate, but I persist in the hope of finding a benefit and purpose.

What’s on my iPhone series:

  1. The Home screen
  2. The Secondary screen
  3. The Folder screen
  4. The Sandbox screen
  5. How I select mobile apps

What’s on my iPhone – Part 1, The Home Screen

I’m very particular with my apps and how I manage them on my devices.

I have a method to how I manage and organise apps:

  • The home screen contains my most used apps.
  • Apps are somewhat organised by application type (e.g. social media apps are grouped together), ergonomics, and colour.
  • The most used apps are located around the edge of the screen.
  • I never fill up my entire screens (any screen) with apps, eliminating false opening of apps when I swipe through screens.

Being a long time Apple user, I am fully entrenched in the Apple/iCloud eco-system. Most of my apps sync wonderfully with iCloud across all of my devices. Other apps sync using Dropbox, Google Drive or similar, to my work computer that runs Microsoft Windows.

Being an app junkie, a collect and manage a lot of apps (more than 200 different apps at the time of writing this article), and I’m always looking for new apps and alternate apps that might do a better job that a default, or one that I’m currently using. I have personal rules for how I select apps, based on my philosophy of simplicity, functionality, and usability.

As a preview and in summary, I have four screens:

  1. Home screen
  2. Secondary screen
  3. Folder screen
  4. Sandbox screen

Here’s my iPhone 7 Plus home screen:


Safari works so well in my Apple ecosystem across all my iOS and Mac OS devices. All my bookmarks are perfectly and quickly sync’d across all devices. Reading List allows me to quickly list a page that I want to view later on another device. Passwords are stored and accessed from Apple keychain across all devices.

I only use the default Apple Calendar app for its dynamic icon that shows today’s date. For my everyday calendar, I mostly use Fantastical.

Fantastical 2
Fantastical is the best calendar app on the App Store. The user interface and design is easy and syncs to iCloud seamlessly. New events can be entered using real English and automatically translated into calendar format.

I haven’t yet found a better contact manager for my use than the default contacts app that syncs across all my devices.

The default Apple Clock app does the job well. Functions include; world clock, alarm, stopwatch and timer. The app integrates well with Siri, and is very easy to use. I have recently been using other timer apps that can show multiple timers, the the Apple Clocks app is always a goto. it would be great if the world clock was able to time shift, but there are other apps for that.

I just trust Apple, and the integration with iOS, Mac OS and Siri. Yes, Google Maps is probably a better map app, but it doesn’t provide full integration with the Apple ecosystem.

The stock Apple Calculator app does the job, it’s just a calculator. Rotate the phone to the side and it becomes a scientific calculator.

Apple Photos is the best photo manager. It syncs perfectly with iCloud and make all of my photos available on all of my IOS and Mac OS devices. All of my photos are automatically backed up, I don’t have to worry about my photos.

The default Notes app does the job. I have tried other apps, but keep coming back to to Apple Notes for its iCloud integration.

I’m sure I could find a better reminders app that perhaps can integrate other apps, but for now the default Apple app does the job. I have been testing various todo apps that may replace the Reminders app in the near future.

Apple Music is the best overall music streaming app, and has effectively replaced iTunes. I subscribe to Apple Music and consume and download as much as I want. I just haven’t had a need for other popular streaming apps like Spotify.

I have used most podcast apps, and keep coming back to Overcast. Overcast does most things very well. The excellent layout makes it very easy to navigate, especially in the car. I often listen to news and sports radio shows that are broadcast as podcasts. I wish there was a way to tidy up and purge podcasts after a week (as the Apple Podcasts app does), rather than a quantity.

I have the settings app on my front page, because I don’t want to hunt around for it. It’s easily accessible for when I need to get into various settings.

App Store
I’m an app junkie, I love finding new apps. My iTunes account is always topped up when iTunes gift cards are on sale.

Pocket Weather Australia
This is the weather app that I am using at the moment. I used this app a while ago, until they lost their way with a poor user interface design. Recent updates have gone back to basics, and now shows the right information in the right way. I have Weather AU customised to show (in order); current temperature, week forecast, daily forecast, observations, and rain radar.

LinkedIn is the best business networking app. I use LinkedIn daily, and have my own process for how I use it.

Since Instagram closed down their API, this is really the only way to use Instagram on the iPhone. I only wish Instagram would provide a grid viewer to allow multi images to be shown, and lists to make it easier to filter follows.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It’s just the default way to stay in touch with family and friends. I just wish I could view my timeline in chronological order, rather than the promotion algorithm that Facebook imposes.

Facebook Messenger
I juggle multiple messenger platforms. I use Facebook Messenger because others use it. Facebook Messenger is my default method of messaging people who don’t use Apple Messenger.

As an early adopter of Twitter (I’ve been using it April 2007), I’ve used most apps. Tweetbot just gets the edge over Twitterrific for me. Tweetbot, like most Twitter apps easily manages multiple Twitter accounts.

Camera +
I find that Camera + is the best app for when you need more camera control, particularly manual control, that the default Apple app doesn’t provide. Camera + seamlessly saves to the Apple Photos app.

Bottom Bar

The default way to make telephone calls. I don’t even know if there’s another app to make calls.

Apple Messages is the best messenger app but doesn’t work for non-Apple people, so I need to juggle multiple messenger apps. I can easily send text, photos, and videos. I don’t do emojis or stickers.

I have recently sort an alternate to the default Apple Mail app, and like Spark for now. I manage multiple email account and types from my email apps: Gmail, Outlook, and POP/IMAP. Spark implements a ‘smart inbox’ very well by pigeon holing; newsletters, notifications and new mail. Unread emails can be cleared very quickly by swiping right to the next one.

The default Apple Camera app does the job of taking photos reasonably well, and is fully integrated with the iPhone and iOS. The iPhone 7 Plus camera is the best camera that Apple has. Even as a photographer, the iPhone camera has pretty much replaced my standalone point and shoot camera. I use a collection of other camera apps such as Camera + when I require more manual control.

My Wallpaper

My wallpaper is always simple and doesn’t distract from the apps. I never use personal photos (e.g. partner, family, cat etc.) as a wallpaper. My wallpaper is always clean and professional, as I regularly AirPlay Apple Keynote presentations from my iPhone to an Apple TV.

What’s on my iPhone series:

  1. The Home screen
  2. The Secondary screen
  3. The Folder screen
  4. The Sandbox screen
  5. How I select mobile apps

How I select mobile apps


I’m always looking out for new apps, and in order to filter out bad ones, I have some personal rules that I follow when selecting, downloading and buying them. My rules are based on my philosophy of simplicity, functionality, and usability.

My app rules

  1. Apps need to be simple, uncluttered and have a clean design. I value and respect good design.
  2. I don’t use apps that have advertising. I will pay for a premium ad-free version of an app, or pay to disable ads.
  3. I don’t use apps that have unnecessary skeuomorphic design. Apple used to do this, but we have moved on for the better.
  4. I will buy apps that provide the best functionality and design for my purpose.
  5. I prefer apps that are regularly and most recently updated. Why bother with apps and software that the developer themselves don’t care about enough to improve and update?
  6. An app should have an attractive screen icon. You judge a book by it’s cover. An app’s icon is a good start for initially determining quality.
  7. I prefer apps that can be viewed natively on all my iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPad Pro).
  8. I prefer apps that sync and save to cloud services (e.g. iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive etc.) where necessary.
  9. I prefer apps that integrate with core Apple functions and services (e.g. iCloud, HomeKit, HealthKit etc.) where possible.
  10. Look out for an app’s search presence, review and rating.


What’s on my iPhone series:

  1. The Home screen
  2. The Secondary screen
  3. The Folder screen
  4. The Sandbox screen
  5. How I select mobile apps