Organizing an iPhone 5 Homescreen

Ages ago (last year) I wrote a post about my methodology for organizing my iPhone and iPad homescreens. I still use that methodology for my iPad, but with the extra row of apps on the iPhone 5 I had to rethink my organization system.

At first I simply added another row of apps to the bottom, like I suspect so many of you did, but after a week it was clear to me that this was the wrong way to go about utilizing an extra row of apps. I was stuck, not having a methodology bugged me because there had to be a good way to organize with this extra row — then during a 3am wake up call from my daughter it hit me.

My flashlight app.

With the added screen real estate I had finally added it to my homescreen, but it was in a random spot and in the dark I couldn’t find it without looking at the screen. Then I thought, if I had it in the top corner I could find it without looking — because it’s as far as my thumb can reach along the edge of the phone.

That was the aha. So I have rethought my overly nerdy way of organizing my homescreen. Let’s take a look.

I had actually modified my original method, and the modified version can be represented as such:

Modified homescreen layout for iPhone 4S sized screens.

The numbers roughly correlate with the priority of the apps in those spots.

So for the iPhone 5 I finally realize that I need to treat the extra row, not as a row that slid into the bottom, but that attached to the top, like so:

Now what apps go at the top?

From there all I had to decide was what should go at the top. As I said, top right is my flashlight app for the simple reason that I can find that spot on my iPhone every time without looking. This, however, is not something universal for people, it just so happens that with the grip I keep on the phone, my tendency to hold it with my right hand, and the size of my hand, the top left corner is an easy tap for me without looking. Great spot for a flashlight app in other words.

Here’s my revised iPhone 5 homescreen layout methodology:

iPhone 5 homescreen layout.

I admit that this is a bit of a cop-out. I’ve numbered the top row all the same, but this is simply because the top row is not easy to access and therefore any app in that spot should be one that fits two criteria:

  1. Is useful to have on the homescreen, but not mission critical. (Flashlight app)
  2. Isn’t accessed all the time, but when needed is an app that you would get annoyed digging for. (Settings)

I’ve obviously thought about this layout a bit, and tailored it for my thumb range: that is the apps I tap the most, I want in a zone that is easy for my thumb(s) to get at. It’s that simple, here’s what my homescreen looks like:

My homescreen as of October 17, 2012.

I only want to note a few things:

  1. I love having settings in the top row, like really love it.
  2. Der Kalendar likely isn’t permanent. I’ve become annoyed with calendar apps (again) and am cycling through a bunch right now.
  3. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell iOS to allow an app to span multiple icon cell areas? I’d love for Scratch to be the size of both the OmniFocus and Scratch icon spots for really quick and easy taps.

Overall, I am pleased with my new arrangement methodology now that I have better accounted for thumb reachability and decided that the extra row of apps is added to the top, not the bottom of the screen.

Originally posted for members on: October 18, 2012
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