Bravely default.

For years, I’ve eschewed using the default iOS apps in favor of third-party offerings, because maaaan, I always knew better. Apple’s apps are for regular people, and I’m a PowerUser™, maaaan. I’d configure all kinds of workarounds and extra steps because I wanted to wring every last bit of functionality out of my devices, and the basic starter apps just weren’t ever enough.

Something’s changed though–well, two things–in the past few years. I’ve lost my taste for fiddling a little bit, and the default apps Apple ships with its devices have gotten, well, better. Better than other things I could use? Not in all cases. But better… enough. I’ve been increasingly focused on reducing friction in my life, and having a simpler computing experience that works together with its component parts–as much as any multi-device connected computing experience can work without hair-pulling these days.

There are still plenty of strange UI choices and functional misses for me in some of Apple’s default apps. I could probably write a series of posts on this topic alone. But what I’m discovering is that the more I give in to accepting that some of these apps provide the core functionality I need in a certain app, the less I find my mind wandering toward exploring an endless array of options and falling into a rabbit hole of tweaking workflows and deluding myself into thinking it’s helping in some way. Faux-ductivity. I’m totally coining that. Try to stop me.

Certainly I have specific pieces of my workflows that must remain more complex; OmniFocus is a great example. The complexity-to-ability balance is tilted way in favor of the amazing productivity gains it offers when life throws a lot of stuff at me. But that new Notes app looks hot. Dark Sky is cool, but I just end up opening Weather way more often. I’m rediscovering that using Reminders for very simple nudges can be highly effective outside of OmniFocus. Most shockingly for some nerds, I’m just using the built-in Podcasts app. Why? Because my use case is having a podcast show up, and me listening to it. At regular speed. And having them actually appear on all devices consistently (yes, it’s true) is kind of nice. Now put your eyes back in your sockets. I’m sorry to have done that to you.

The added bonus for someone like me, who often restores devices for a variety of reasons, is that the process of setting up a new phone is increasingly easy, since there are fewer things to install, log into, sync, and adjust. While I don’t restore my phone every week, knowing that if I need to (or want to) that it’s not a multi-hour activity anymore is really nice. I can be 80-90% back up and running in under an hour. Time being a dwindling resource for me these days, that makes a real difference.

I’m always talking about examining my habits to solve for new variables and increase my feelings of success across the things I do. The best way to ensure that you’re focusing on the right things is to stop focusing on everything else. I know I’m incurably broken when it comes to getting excited about trying new stuff. But I’m beginning to consider that understanding what works–getting comfortable with certain trade-offs that would have been deal breakers for me in the past–is a positive step forward that I wouldn’t have expected.

Author: Seth Clifford

I'm here for the open bar.