The tyranny of two screens.

I have this habit that I’ve developed. On both of my iOS screens (iPhone and iPad) I try, whenever possible, to have all the same apps and icons in the same places. The reason I do this is because in thinking about it, I like the idea that no matter where I am, and on either device, I always have a quick mental map of where apps are located and the stuff I want is always where I expect it to be. It’s sort of interesting to go between the devices quickly and it certainly seems to work pretty well when I’m using my devices in tandem.

However, the truth is that I don’t really use the devices the same way. I have certain apps on my home screen on the phone that make no sense on the iPad. Like Messages, for instance. Used constantly on the phone, almost never on the iPad. Because the whole ‘get your messages wherever you are’ thing only works if everyone sends messages to your email address. And uses iOS. And not everyone does, and the years-long habit of using phone numbers to message people is not going away, no matter how much Apple wills it.

So I find myself using my iPhone intensely for a few days, then reaching for my iPad after a period of not using it, to find everything needs to be rearranged. And because I have mental problems, I often feel the need to do this before I do anything else because I’ve been looking at things the other (new) way so much on the phone that it doesn’t feel right the way it is now on the iPad.

I start to wonder about just setting up apps completely differently on both devices, as I did when I first got the iPad, the way most people probably do. Is it more valuable to have the perceived speed gain from mirroring the app layout in both places, or should my specific use for each device dictate how apps are arranged? Does anyone else ever think about this or should I just start looking for a decent therapist now instead of waiting?

Maybe I’ll just move them around.

Author: Seth Clifford

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