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Productive Apps on my iPhone and MacBook as an A Level Student

Language/语言:   English   简体中文
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By: Ken Deng   Published on 1 Aug. 2021

Approx. 1700 words, 8 mins

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Hello there! My name is Ken and I am a Chinese senior high A Level student in Guangdong Country Garden School. Welcome to Ken's Study Journey website and blog!

As I am an AS and A Level student, I have massive study tasks, but some apps on my iPhone and MacBook can boost my productivity to let me study in my free time.

Not only do I have many productive apps on my devices, but also widgets on the home screen and widget areas play an important role in my study productivity.

Suitable layout and arrangement on the home screen on computers and phones can give a sense of tidiness. This is similar as we clean up our bedroom and desks.

Today, I am going to talk about what's on my iPhone and MacBook with some productive apps, widgets, screen layouts, and tips. Let's jump in!

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Apps and Screen Layout on my iPhone

My iPhone has a wide range of apps for studying, travelling, chatting with my friends, fitness, music, video, audio, and social media.

In order to boost my study productivity and avoid distractions, together with new features on iOS 15, I separated the apps into different categories, folders, and screens.

There are 4 screens on my iPhone with different kinds of apps, such as system apps, chatting and travelling, studying, and social media.

Daily Apps on the First 2 Screens

The first screen has some built-in apps made by Apple, such as camera, calendar, email, clock, weather, reminders, App Store and Settings.

I usually use iCloud mail, calendar and reminders because I can use Siri suggestions for my Apple apps. In the new iOS and macOS, we will be able to generate random email addresses to hide the real address.

The second screen has instant messaging and travel apps, such as WeChat, a messaging app that is commonly used in China, Skype, Apple Maps, Google Maps, Alipay, TripAdvisor, and Google Translate.

Many Studying Apps on the Third Screen

Studying apps are placed together on the third screen, including Apple Office such as Pages, Keynote, Numbers and iMovie, Microsoft Office such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel, English studying apps such as Quizlet and Kindle.

I usually use Quizlet to remember English words and some knowledge of other subjects using flashcards, and use Kindle to read books.

There are also some media apps on this screen. They also can boost my productivity.

I usually use Apple Music and Netease Music as my music apps, Tencent Video and Iqiyi as my apps to watch movies, like Apple TV and Netflix in western countries. YouTube is used to watch vlogs to learn some tips for studying AS and A Level, applying for universities and daily life of university students in the UK.

I also use Apple Podcasts and TED apps to listen to English audio, such as podcasts and TED talks. It is very useful to listen in the car and transportations together with the background sounds on AirPods in iOS 15.

The last 3 categories of apps on this screen are fitness, programming and authenticators.

Fitness apps have Mi Fit and Nexgim. I am going to buy the latest Apple Watch this September or October, but I am currently using a wristband by Xiaomi so I use its Mi Fit app. Nexgim app is used to ride virtual bicycles at the gymnasium at home.

Sometimes, I need to write codes on my phone. For example, I may use Microsoft Remote Desktop to manipulate and maintain the web server for my website. There is also an FTP app on my phone to upload files onto my server when I write new articles on my phone.

Almost all apps I am using enabled 2-factors authentication to keep my accounts safe, so I used authenticators. Google Authenticator is commonly used, but it cannot be used on computers, so I used an authenticator app called SecKey. I also used Microsoft Authenticator to secure my Microsoft account.

Unimportant Apps on the Fourth Screen

The last screen on my iPhone is placed with some unimportant apps such as social media, news and personal apps.

In iOS 15, we will be able to disable and hide screens in Focus mode so we will not be distracted while studying. I am going to hide this screen on all study modes I set.

I occasionally use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pinterest is used to share and find blog articles. I also read some news around the world in English like articles with some apps, such as Microsoft News, Apple News, Google News and BBC News.

There are also some apps related to managing my personal things. JingDong is used to buy things online about some stationeries and study tools, which is similar to Amazon in western countries. I use China Mobile as my mobile phone career, so its app is used to check for the remaining amount in my plan, including mobile data.

Commonly Used Apps on the Dock

The last thing I want to tell you is the apps that are commonly used on the dock at the bottom of the iPhone. It contains phone, iMessage, Safari and Notes app.

Apps and Screen Layout on my MacBook

In fact, I usually use my Mac computer instead of my iPhone because the screen on the phone is very small, which is harmful to our eyes.

There is just one screen on the LaunchPad on my MacBook, so I can find and reach all apps quickly.

The built-in apps are all placed at the top, such as App Store, Safari, reminders, photos, notes and Apple maps. Apple uses iCloud to synchronise information between devices, so I can see the photos and see the routes on the map directly on the computer.

All other apps are placed at the bottom, such as instant messaging apps, Apple office, Microsoft office, music, video, audio, and Adobe apps.

There are more programming apps than iPhone, such as Python as a programming language, Visual Studio Code as a code-writing app, and VMWare Fusion to run Windows for programming. What's more? There are Adobe apps to edit my audios, videos and photos using Audition, Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

Productive Apps and Layout on macOS Computer

I also put some redundant icons such as Siri and Apple Home, or Adobe app icons on the second screen, so I can improve the appearance.

Widgets on my iPhone

On iPhone and iPad, we can use widgets on the home screen to see the status along the way we take out the device and open apps.

I usually put the widget at the top and left sides along with app icons and folders at the right and bottom, so I can reach the apps with only one finger more easily.

On the first screen, there are 2 widgets in small size at the centre of the screen. They are Batteries and Screen Time. They can let me see the situations directly.

On the second screen, I have put 2 smart stacks with weather apps in my city where I live and the current city, together with today’s reminders and calendar. They are both in medium size. Another widget is the world clock with 4 cities which is small. The space remaining has the folders with messaging and travelling apps.

The third screen involves a smart stack in medium size with Music and Podcasts. There is also a small widget of YouDao Chinese-English Dictionary that shows daily recommended English words.

The widgets on the last screen are very special. Because this screen has social media apps. I only open this screen when I feel bored, and it cannot be opened during Focus mode. On this screen, there is a medium Siri suggestion widget at the top to recommend me something to do. There is also a medium screen time and a small tips widget. The tips can let me learn how to use full features of my Apple devices.

Widgets in the Widgets Areas

Apart from widgets on the home screen, there is a special home screen on the left that is used to put widgets on iPhone and iPad, and the notification centre on Mac computer is also used to put widgets.

On my Mac computers, I usually put some widgets related to my daily life. For example, I put calendar, today's reminders, world clock, weather in my current location and Guangzhou, China (the city where I live), Podcasts and screen time.

The widgets in the widgets areas on my iPhone are slightly different from my Mac computers. There are some more widgets such as tips and music, along with some smart stacks.

Tips for using Windows and Android

Some people may be using Windows and Android rather than iOS and macOS, but there are also some tips to boost your productivity.

You can create some folders on the home screen on your phone or tablet. Just drag an app icon above others and a folder will be created.

It is essential to add some suitable widgets on the home screen so you can see the information before opening apps. Putting the widgets at the top may be more suitable.

On Windows 10, you can use your Microsoft account to synchronise your things between devices with some Microsoft apps installed on your Android devices. Organising the tiles in the start menu like widgets can also improve your productivity.

If you are using third-party apps, such as Chrome, Firefox or WPS Office, especially in Windows 7 or earlier versions, you can sign up for an account to synchronise your content such as your favourites in your browser.

These are my tips for using your computers and phones productively with some apps, widgets and suitable layouts. I hope you can improve your productivity significantly with my suggestions.

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Alright! This is the end of the article. Thanks for reading.

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Ken Deng