basement blog

minimal-izing my phone screen

This week I got suggested a YouTube video that demonstrated this app that lets you turn your phone's home screen into a more minimal, text-only format. So I've been trying the the app (which is called Blank Spaces), and this is what my phone looks like now:

bare phone screen

Looks cool right? That's what I thought at least, but the way the app accomplishes this is pretty hacky. It takes advantage of iPhone widgets that you can center on the screen and displays links to apps that you choose from a pre-defined list within Blank Spaces.

Choosing from a pre-defined list means means that Blank Spaces doesn't have full support for every app, which is why I still need some of the unsupported ones docked at the bottom. This also means that because it's an iPhone widget, it first needs to navigate you to the Blank Spaces app which then links you off to the app you selected.

The one other annoying thing is you can't turn off the "App Library" screen on iPhones, which means if you swipe left, you'll see the apps like normal. But you just have to remind yourself not to swipe on the home screen:

app library screen

can't turn this screen off

Overall, it's a fine experience. I recommend it for people who are looking to achieve a less distracting view when unlocking their phone. Outside of the minor quirks, I've enjoyed it. I do think that I have a healthy amount of self-control, so this minimal layout isn't decreasing my phone usage drastically, but moreso acting as a reminder that I should be using my phone with intent, rather than just to kill time.

If you're looking to try it out, find Blank Spaces on the app store. They'll walk you through how to set it up. But the one that I found confusing is how to get the widgets to match the exact shade of grey (or white if you choose a light theme) as your phone background color. Basically what you need to do is take a screenshot of your phone's home screen on a blank page after you've selected the plain background image, then upload it in the "Custom Wallpaper" section in the settings.

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