Chuck Skoda’s sweet iPhone setup

Every week we try to post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

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Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Chuck Skoda. I’m a developer. My day job is at Tagboard building web-app-type-things and also posting GIFS to our Slack channels. Additionally, I make some iPhone apps, both independently, and with Sky Balloon, a company for side projects I started with a couple compatriots.

What iPhone do you have?

My “Space Gray” iPhone 5S (only 16GB, how do I survive?) has certainly been my favorite iPhone yet. I’ve had every model since the 3G, excluding the 3GS, and my home screen layout still has roots all the way back in that 3G setup.

Chuck Skoda's iPhone

What apps do you use the most, and why?

I’ve wanted Apple to answer the first part of this question for a long time. Whether from their own app, or an API that gives information on usage statistics. (They’re getting closer with iOS 8. The battery usage page in Settings.app gives a general idea of what apps you’re using most).

You might have noticed Reporter on my home screen. It’s an app that prompts you to take surveys at regular intervals to let you keep track of different data points about your life. Early on, I added the question, “What was the last app you opened?” I answer that by bringing up the app switcher and checking the most recent app.

Being surveyed at intervals, the numbers aren’t perfect, but I can give you my top 5 apps used with relatively low margin of error:

Clearly, my phone is used largely for communication. Messages isn’t the first app I think about because it still feels like texting, which I’ve always had available on my cell phone. However, “texting” also happens to be something I do quite a bit, so it’s no surprise that it tops the list. The entire top five seems pretty well in line with what I would expect. My phone is first and foremost the “Internet Communicator” that Steve Jobs showed us all those years ago.

Which app could you not live without?

It just barely made the top 5, but Camera feels like the most critical app I have. That seems like a boring choice, but it gives quick access to capturing photos and videos that rival some of the best you could take with the point and shoot cameras of the past decade. As a single app, I’d say that has changed the value of my “cell phone” the most significantly.

Are Apple apps against the rules? Because, Tweetbot is certainly my favorite from a third party. Of all the things I can do on my phone, many still have a better experience on my Mac. But Tweetbot for iPhone is the best way to experience Twitter on any platform.

In third place, I would probably place Instagram (even though it’s not in my top 5 for usage), which kind of bridges my first two choices. Those photos we take get a lot of added value from our newfound capability to share them with others, and that’s something I think Instagram is still doing better than anybody else.

Focusing on my “can’t-live-without” apps feels like missing the forest for the trees though. The most powerful thing about my iPhone is the aggregate of possibilities I can bring with me wherever I go. If my phone was just Tweetbot or just the Camera app, would it still be with me 24 hours a day? Probably not, because the whole package is more than the sum of its parts. It’s hard to quantify how the iPhone has influenced day to day life over the last number of years, but I can’t imagine going back.


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