(map blog thoughts)

Jul 27, 2013 - Lifehacks

On Making a Better iPhone Home Screen

Considering the little computers that we carry around in our pockets (or purses) all day help us with our email, internet access, personal GPS recorder, social networking, (very) personal journals and once in a while also act as a phone, it makes sense for us to want to protect all that data. The easiest way to keep our phones from prying eyes is to switch on the passcode functionality.

Of course this presents itself as a Catch-22. On one hand we know if we were to forget our phone at a coffee shop or a public library (or even worse lose our phone), it would prevent someone from getting to know pretty much everything there is to know about us. On the other hand it also prevents a good Samaritan from returning the phone to us in the event they find it.

Furthermore, locking the phone also obstructs emergency services from getting a contact person in the event of an unfortunate accident.

So what does one do?

For what it is worth, there are tons of ICE apps out there for the iPhone (or any other smart phone). All of these apps record relevant parts of our medical history (such as blood type, current medications and any existing allergies) allowing emergency services to quickly determine how to respond. Furthermore these allow us to make the info page as the Lock screen so the paramedic does not need to unlock the phone in order to get to that information.

Needless to say these serve well as our “In case of Lost Phone” application because they list emergency contacts as well.

One concern with the lock screens these apps generate is their looks :-/ Of course this may be a tad short-sighted especially in light of the medical concern, but that does not prevent us from trying, right? :)

Allow me to admit that I am a big fan (and long time lurker) on both Lifehacker and App Chronicles (especially they Apps Gone Free page). A while back Lifehacker posted an article that got me thinking on creative ways to add ICE information on the home screen. Soon after seeing that article App Chronicles posted that Typic Pro - Photo Text Editor that had gone free for a day and I managed to snap it up. Typic Pro allows us to add captions and design elements (like banners and frames) to our photographs which is exactly what we need.

Game on.

First thing we do is was open up the Typic Pro which presents us with an option to take a photo, or select one from our photo library. We will opt to take a new picture. The idea here was to get a completely black background, so cover up the camera lens with a finger, or rest it on any opaque surface to block out all light (be sure to switch off the flash for this) and click. There! A completely black background.

Then, go to town with it. Typic Pro allows us to set (at most two) captions on the picture, pick font, font colors etc. Here’s an example.

Lock Screen 1 Lock Screen 1

Let us try a few more. Here is another one

Lock Screen 2 Lock Screen 2

Of course we need to be careful with how far we take this. Typic Pro allows us to pick one of many available fonts from a deck but the idea is to keep it legible. After all the purpose of this exercise is that anyone finding the phone should be able to read it without any difficulty.

Typic Pro only allows a maximum of two captions per image which can be a tad restrictive at times. Fortunately we can easily work around this. Simply line up the first two captions to accommodate for more, save the image, then open that image up again in Typic Pro and add two more!

As an example we can start here

Partial Image Partial Image

Notice now there is some some space left on the right-hand side of the name to allow for a third caption. Open the image up again in Typic Pro and add another caption.

Lock Screen with more than two captions Lock Screen with more than two captions

Pretty sweet, right? :)

So there we have it. A nice way to create a lock screen wallpaper. Here is one in it’s full glory

Lock Screen in use Lock Screen in use

A few final points of note. One, bear in mind the idea is legibility first and foremost. Second, the image will need adjusting prior to setting it as the wallpaper especially if the text is dangerously close to the bottom edge of the screen. Third we can always use an image as a background, but since our topmost priority is legibility a blank background works best.

Finally, we must realize that ICE applications and cards have their place. While this is a great experiment in cosmetics it cannot (and should not) come in the way of our well-being. Do what is right, aesthetics be damned.

With that said, be careful and safe out there.

[Full disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Lifehacker, App Chronicles or Typic Pro apart from being a happy customer. All the links in this article are affiliate free]