Whether you are a professional who charges clients by the hour, or a productivity geek simply out to evaluate and analyze the time you spend on things, tracking time is a pretty mundane and potentially irritating activity. Of course, there are a lot of ways on the desktop and the web that you can make things easier – from simple spreadsheets to dedicated time tracking apps or full-fledged project management suites. But all of these methods have been traditionally computer-focused and are not best suited for when you are out and about.
If you’re always out and about, or simply use your Android smartphone a lot, you probably like to get things done on the handset and would like an easy way to track time on the go as well. If so, this is a good place to start. Rounded up below are a bunch of apps that you can use on your phone to track the time you spend on projects or pretty much anything else you might want to keep track of.
Note that a lot of the apps I’m going to talk about do very much the same stuff, so what you finally choose is going to come down to your personal preferences in terms of the UI, functionality and connectivity to your other tools of choice.
Toggl.com is one of the best known web-based time tracking apps out there, and has been around for a few years now. If you are already locked into the web app and would like to extend the functionality to your phone, the Toggl Android app is an obvious choice. You can use the built-in timer or manually log time whether you are online or offline, and the app will automatically sync all your data with the web version whenever there is an data connection available.
RescueTime took the productivity crowds by storm when it launched a few years back. Instead of depending on the users to manually log what they have been working on, the desktop application sat in the background and tracked what you did on your computer. It then threw back a whole set of reports and metrics to help users see where their time was going through the day and analyze for themselves how they were doing.
The RescueTime Android app bring the same functionality to your phone. Review which apps and websites you are spending your time on, identify time sinks with the help of detailed reports, and take corrective action.
Yast calls itself the world’s easiest time tracker, and for good reason. Another one of the web-app-with-a-mobile-presence apps, the idea behind Yast is to make tracking time on projects as easy as possible for you. Start clocking time spent on a project with a single tap, and stop with another. The feature set is not too deep here; it’s limited to the ability to set projects, log time, and comment on tasks with no more than a couple of taps.
Again, if you are already using their pretty and useful web app, the Android version is a no-brainer. Even if you are not, but are looking for an easy way to log time from the phone while having it synced online, this might be the way to go.
If the simplicity of Toggl and Yast feels a bit too shallow, Time Recording Pro might have you covered with a much fuller feature set. For those who charge by the hour, you can set an hourly rate and the app will include the total earnings in your timesheet along with the overall time spent. You can set projects as billable or non-billable so personal projects can also be included along with client work.
Although the free version of the app contains pretty much all the time tracking and reporting features, the Pro version adds a couple of very nice perks: the ability to sync with Google Calendar and Dropbox.
Going a step further from the previous app, Xpert-Timer Time Tracking adds some content and project management features to its core time-tracking app. Manage your clients and their projects, set hourly rates per project, add comments on every timestamp for review later and generate all sorts of detailed reports. All this in a pretty sleek and usable interface, and you’ve got a winner on your hands – as long as the price doesn’t drive you away.
For synchronization and backup, the app connects with it’s desktop client for Windows which provides all the same features on a bigger canvas for more detailed reports and analysis.
Where both the previous apps try to cram in as much as possible in their tiny mobile footprints for a price, Timesheet Time Tracker attempts to strike a balance between decent capabilities and a free pricepoint. The first thing the strikes on when you see the app is how neat and clean the interface is. You choose a project, hit a button to start a timestamp and hit another button to stop. It feels simple, but you also have the ability to go inside the task and edit details, add comments, set charges, and more. Reports can be generated for multiple variables and exported in a host of formats.
A couple of things that are unique to the app are location tracking for your tasks, rich text notes with images, and a pretty nifty homescreen widget for logging time without having to bother to open the app itself.
If you use your time tracking app primarily to log time on projects so you can bill clients at the end of the project (or on a periodic basis), TimeClock’s ability to export your data as an invoice might prove pretty useful. The app comes with all the usual bells and whistles that we’ve seen in the other apps, with a very heavy emphasis on reporting and billing. Be aware that the interface can be a bit overwhelming, though. The app tries to do a lot of things and this is reflected in the distinctly busy looking UI.
For $5 a month, you get access to a web interface of the app called TimeClock Connect, which is like a complete invoice management solution connected to and controlled from the mobile app.
Basecamp from 37signals is easily one of the most used online project management apps out there. Along with all the other project management and collaboration features, Basecamp has a built-in time logging solution which, thanks to their API, can be accessed from a number of third-party apps. If you already use Basecamp at work and would like to log and track your time on the go, these two apps could be the solutions you are looking for.
Timy does just one thing – it lets you fill out your Basecamp timesheet. For an app that is so simple, it does a pretty neat job with the user interface. You log in to your Basecamp account, select your project and enter the time spent on it. The app has a dashboard that shows you the amount of time spent every day.
Price: Free Requires: Android 1.5 or above Market Link:Timy Developer:Nascom
Unvired Projects is a full-featured Basecamp client for Android that lets you keep track of all your projects on Basecamp, upload and download files and add time entries to projects while on the move. You can view all your to-do lists, add or check off items on the list, and more. The interface may feel a bit overwhelming and the dark theme does not help much on that front, but it’s pretty straightforward for the most part.
There are other Basecamp client available on Android, including the very impressive Camper, but Unvired Projects seems to be the only one that lets you add to the timesheet from the mobile interface.
Like I mentioned before, a lot of these apps are very similar in what they do and there are many more in the Android Market. I’ve tried to shortlist the ones that bring something unique to the table in one way or another. Your choice will invariably depend on what kind of an interface you like, or what service you are already using. Go ahead, then; take your pick and start tracking!