Android Expert Profiles

How I Use Android: EvolveSMS and Talon developer Luke Klinker

One of Android's busiest developers gives us a glimpse at his personal home screen setup and talks about the apps and devices that help him stay productive.

How I Use Android - Luke Klinker

Luke Klinker knows his way around app development.

Klinker started building his Android app empire when he was a student at the University of Iowa. He embraced Google's Material Design standard and worked with his brother to create clean and intuitive apps that were packed with features and yet easy to use.

These days, Klinker Apps has quite the catalog. EvolveSMS is the company's most popular app to date, according to Google's public statistics -- which might explain why Klinker is now working on a new next-gen multiplatform texting app codenamed "Messenger" (it hasn't officially been released yet, but you can try it as part of a prerelease beta program). He also stays busy keeping up with development on Talon for Twitter, Blur Launcher, and Source News Reader, all of which are distinctively Klinker creations.

It's no surprise, then, that Klinker -- who just finished college this past May, by the way -- considers himself a full-time Android developer. Klinker Apps takes up as much of his life as a full-time job, he tells me, even though he also works as a software engineer for an Iowa-based consulting company. (His brother and former Klinker Apps partner, Jake, moved to Mountain View to start a gig with Google earlier this year.)

So, yeah -- this is absolutely a guy who's got his hands full. And that seems to be just the way he likes it.

I caught up with Klinker to get the lowdown on how Android fits into his own personal life -- what devices and apps he relies on, how he sets up his home screen, and how his mobile tech helps him juggle his ever-expanding array of projects and obligations.

In his own words, this is how Luke Klinker uses Android.

The basics

Your current primary phone: As of this chat, I have a Nexus 6P, but I'm hoping to have my Pixel XL within the next few days! Since the Nexus 4 (my first Nexus phone), I haven't used anything but Nexus as my daily driver.

For me, the main draw -- since the Nexus 5 -- has been the ability to use the preview versions of Android. I have had a few problems with these versions in the past, but that has never stopped me from updating immediately when a new version comes out.

If you have ever used one of my apps, you know I love being able to include the latest and greatest features. To do that, though, I have to be running on the cutting edge, so Nexus phones have been a necessity for me these past few years. I'm stoked to get the Pixel in the next few days!

What case is on your phone (if any): I have never been a case person -- guess I like to live dangerously. I haven't actually broken a phone myself (knock on wood), so I have never felt the need.

I did order one of Google's "Live Cases" for my Nexus 6P when they were announced, but I never really used it. The phones are already big enough. I don't want them taking up any more room than they have to.

Your current tablet (if any): Past tablets had always just collected dust for me. That changed when I got a Pixel C, though. I absolutely love this tablet. The main draw was the quality. I didn't get it right when they announced it, but once the reviews came in about how premium it was (despite some issues), and after my brother got one, I needed one for myself.

Having a keyboard is great. The thing I hated most about previous tablets was how hard it was to type with the on-screen keyboard. This thing has pretty much replaced my laptop for casual tasks. Obviously, I don't code on the Pixel C, so I need a computer for that, but the size and usability of this have been perfect for my usage!

I also have a Nexus 9 and a Nexus 7 on hand. These don't get used all that often anymore, though. They didn't age too well and are both pretty sluggish on normal usage.

Your current smartwatch (if any): Right now, if I wear one, I'm rocking the original LG G Watch. My first-gen Moto 360 just conked out last month. The G Watch might not look like much, but I was surprised to see how well it still ran. It's much quicker than my 360 had gotten.

I don't wear it all the time -- there was a time when I didn't wear a watch at all -- but I had to break one out for testing purposes a few months back and have kept it around since then.

I really like the idea of Android Wear, but as many others have said, I find myself constantly struggling to get real-life usage out of it. Most of the notifications I get are things that I want to reply to right away, so I pull out my phone or grab my tablet -- because I am not a huge fan of talking to a watch in public.

When Google finally rolls out Android Wear 2.0, I will definitely look to update. I pretty much just use this one because I don't feel the need to buy a new one at this point. I would consider myself an early adopter for Android Wear, but it never really became a huge part of my daily routine.

What face you're using on your watch right now: Well, this one isn't too exciting: I have used the Together watch face since it came out -- not because I use it with anyone else but because I like the clean look of the clock. I never wanted anything too flashy to be on my wrist, and it provided a pretty sleek and easy to read clock.

The home screen

A quick walk-through of your phone's home screen setup: I will be the first to say that I'm pretty boring and generic when it comes to my home screen! I only use one page, just because if I put things on other pages, I quickly forget about them and then they never get used. I like just having the single screen to get a quick glance at what needs checked or done.

Luke Klinker Home Screen (1)

Obviously, I have all my own apps front and center, because those are by far my most used apps -- which is why I made them! Talon and Source are my most used apps, along with my new "Messenger" app. Inside the Messenger folder, I have all the communication apps. I wasn't a big fan of Allo when I tried it, but I have kept it around for the Assistant.

Luke Klinker Home Screen (2)

For me, this setup is all about productivity. When I open the phone, I just want easy access to the services I need to check: email, news, Twitter, Google+ (inside the Talon folder), my calendar, and my to-do list.

What launcher you're using: The past few months, I had been putting a ton of time into my own launcher (Blur) that I released a few years back. I had been using that launcher ever since its release, along with Action Launcher whenever I got bored and wanted something different.

Then I started working on Messenger and that Blur revamp was forced to be put on hold -- just not enough time in the day. I have been on Action Launcher for the past few months now and, of course, really love it. Tons of awesome features here, but my favorite is one of the originals: Covers.

I hide most of the apps from the app drawer that are unused or are on the home screen already. Covers are a perfect feature to group relevant apps together and keep them out of my app drawer.

I may try out the Pixel Launcher when I get the new phone, but I don't see a whole lot of draw to it at this point. Most the features have been adopted very quickly into Action Launcher and many other third-party apps.

What wallpaper you're using: Well, my wallpaper is about as generic as my home screen. You will probably start to see that trend!

I just use the wallpaper from the Pixel C on both my phone and tablet. I have always liked the simple nature wallpapers. I am intrigued by the new live wallpapers that come with the Pixel phones, though, so I'll probably be using one of them after I receive that phone.

Anything else of note (interesting customizations, special icons, etc): I haven't used a custom ROM for a few years now -- and clearly, my setup isn't all that interesting! I really despise widgets, to be honest. I would much rather open up the full app instead, because I know how much more time a developer puts into the app over its widget.

As for special icons, you might have noticed Pulse is one of the icons on the home screen. I will go ahead and say that that is going to be the production name and icon for the new "Messenger" app! Looking forward to pushing that out to everyone before long, similar to the design of the Allo and Duo icons.

The experience and the apps

What's one of your favorite Android-related tips or tricks?

Uninstall the Facebook app -- and while you're at it, might as well uninstall the Twitter app and use Talon instead. ;)

Only kind-of kidding on that. But really, my main tip is to spice up your tablet usage. If you are looking for a new one, get a tablet that you can attach a keyboard to. The Pixel C and its keyboard completely changed the way I used my tablet (see: never used one -> always have it around). You don't have to have the keyboard attached all the time, but just to have it available when you want to write out an email, reply to any kind of notification, or even browse the web is insanely useful.

My tablet has become a huge part of my daily routine now that I can type effectively with it!

Beyond the obvious stock Google programs, a few apps you can't live without right now (and a quick word about why):

I absolutely love Todoist. I installed it a year ago, and it is one of my main productivity apps. I am always thinking of new ideas or catching things that I want to tweak with my work, and I usually get the best ideas when I am out and about. Todoist is the perfect tool for me to quickly organize and add to projects until I can get the ideas tracked back at home. This app is a life-saver for me!

I have also been getting more into podcasts the past few months and use Pocket Casts to manage those. It is easy to use and looks and works great.

Of course, I can't forget about my own work in this list, since they are definitely the most used apps on my phone and tablet!

Pretty much all my communication with friends and family goes through my new text messaging app, Pulse. Almost everyone that I talk to still uses SMS. Since this app is available on any device, I don't have to worry quite so much about leaving my phone up in the bedroom or on the charger somewhere. Pulse has been so fun and unique to make. I couldn't be happier with the outcome at this point.

I am more of a casual Twitter user, but I am on Talon all the time. I do a lot of support through Twitter, but I still find time to browse my own timelines and lists as well. Talon was the first app I ever made on my own -- I started it back when I was a freshman in college -- and it is still by far the app that I spend the most time scrolling through during the day. I love everything about this app. The time spent on it has definitely been worth it!

Last but not least, all of my news goes through Source. I don't have a whole lot of time to watch the news on TV or browse the web during the day, so I rely on Source for a quick look at just the news that I care about. Admittedly, I do much more scrolling and looking at pictures or titles than I do reading articles, but Source works well for that use case, too!

Check out more Android expert profiles below or in the official Google+ collection -- and stay tuned for even more entries in the weeks to come!

Icons in title image courtesy of Freepik and Madebyoliver at flaticon.com.

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