in Tech

How I Organize My Apps


I’m a real sucker for apps and have actually been collecting them ever since getting my first iPhone 2 years ago. I’ve since downloaded 261 apps, of which 116 remain on my iPhone. The problem is, I’ve always had a difficulty managing and organizing the apps on my phone. As much as I’m a fan of Apple products, I feel that iOS’ limited app organizing ability is actually one of its biggest limitations.

I’ve also realised that on top of collecting apps, the phone has gradually been taking away more and more of my time over the years. I constantly find myself scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mindlessly, reading updates over and over again and opening data heavy apps like YouTube in the subway for entertainment, only to be really frustrated because of the non-existent data network in Singapore.

Whether or not my time was spent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reeder, games and whatever else, I was determined to cut that down.

I began searching on the Internet for the best and most productive way to organize apps, but somehow most of what was available didn’t make much sense to me, probably because everyone prefers organizing his/her phone in a different way.

It was then that I decided to conduct a little experiment.

I made time-wasting apps like social media apps and games more difficult to access by placing them on a screen that was further away, and made hygiene, work and productivity apps more easily accessible by doing the opposite, placing them on a screen that was closer to my home screen.

I also tried my best to follow the concepts of usage-based, relatedness-based and usability-based app arrangement (read more about it below). I’m really happy with what I have so far, hopefully it’ll be a start to helping me cut down the amount of time spent on my phone, or at least the amount of time spent mindlessly scrolling through social media apps.

Here are some screenshots of the current state of my phone:


The screen to the left of my “Home” screen

Here’s where all my utility apps are. If you’re familiar with iOS, I use the screen to the right of this as my “Home” screen, so this “Utility” screen is easily accessible with one swipe to the left.



I use these apps the most, or at least want them to be the apps I use the most.



This screen is reserved for all apps that are work and productivity related. I placed it one swipe to the right of my “Home” screen in hope of encouraging more work/productivity related app usage.



I name this the “Time-waster” screen because I have a love-hate relationship with the apps on this screen. I really enjoy using them even though they’re big time-wasters. The only one that deserves a special mention is “Reeder”, my dedicated feed aggregating app that I can’t live without.



To the right of the “Time-wasters” I have my library, which is essentially an assortment of apps without a proper resting place that I find myself needing from time to time.



Self explanatory. Placed furthest away from my “Home” screen.

The Five Ways Users Organize Their Apps And What Designers Can Learn From This – TechCrunch

Two researchers from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence analyzed more than a thousand screens from users on both iOS and Android devices. From the data collected, five high-level concepts that users have been adopting for organising apps on their phones were found. They are:

  1. Usage-based icon arrangement: This group organizes app icons based on the frequency of the app’s use.
  2. Relatedness-based icon arrangement: This group organizes apps into cluster based on functionality. If you have a screen of photo apps, for example, this would be you.
  3. Usability-based icon arrangement: Some people organize their apps so they can reach the ones they need most often with their thumb, without having to swipe too much or accidentally click on other icons.
  4. Aesthetic-based icon arrangement: These people organize icons in ways that are pleasing to them. For example, they might keep their first screen sparse in order to see the background image of their girlfriend, or they organize icons by color or patterns.
  5. External concepts for icon arrangement: Others report using systems imposed on them by external forces. For instance, their icons are arranged by order of download, or they keep the icons in the default arrangement pattern suggested by the hardware maker. One user organized his icons alphabetically.

The concepts are not mutually exclusive, and I actually find myself using a lot of 1, 2 and 3. Maybe a little bit of 4.

Do you have a particular way of organizing your apps?