Today on impulse I carried out a severe cull to some apps I keep on my iPhone home screen. I deleted all of the ‘time sink’ apps from there — Twitterrific, Instagram and Apollo for Reddit. I also took the opportunity to remove my favoured weather application Weather Line plus the Cesium music player. The elephant in the room is the Facebook app and I got rid of that a long time ago...
Why? Let’s be clear about a couple of things — first, I am not giving up on any of these services where I’ve deleted apps; I will just be focussing on them at different times. The other important point is that I see more and more people taking a similar decision. Whenever you think you’re unique, you’re wrong!
Tackling the easy one first, the music player. I simply didn't use Cesium often enough anymore.
Weather Line went in the bin because I can’t find an app that hits that sweet spot between elegant user experience vs. reliable and accurate data. Weather Line does the first one perfectly but the Dark Sky data is simply not reliable enough except for the hyperlocal data I can get by just looking out of the window. An app like WeatherPro uses much more accurate data but has a user interface that fell from high up in the ugly tree and smashed against every branch on the way down!
My main focus with this exercise was to get rid of as many ‘time sink’ social media distractions as possible. Twitter was easy — I have found myself increasingly jumping to the top of a timeline and can survive without the service during the day. In the last couple of years I have felt that the degree of social interaction on Twitter has declined and it has become more of a broadcast service. I do need to post to the Twitter account for the Parent Council at my children’s school but other tools such as Drafts and Linky will fill that gap.
Instagram was a tougher call though. I enjoy posting photos there and I really enjoy seeing other other people’s work, inspirational photographs and following people with similar interests. Over the last few month I have found the experience of browsing through my timeline increasingly frustrating due to the presence of irrelevant ‘stories’, too-frequent adverts and suggestions for who to follow.
Reddit is a wonderful community of interests but, again, I can live without the distraction during the day and especially before trying to sleep at night.
The other aspect to this decision is the thought that it would do me no harm to step away from these desultory distractions and perhaps be more mindful about how I consume information.