There are a surprisingly high number of time-tracking apps for the iPhone, but most of them aren’t that good. Our favourite from the mountain of options is HoursTracker, thanks to its versatile feature set, ease of use and handy data export features.
- Add unlimited jobs/tasks to track
- Clock in and out as needed
- Start your time clock at a specific time if you forgot to clock in
- Review hours over a given time period
- Easily view your earnings (if you’re tracking with an hourly rate)
- Export data (all of it or as a date range) via email to an easily readable format or CSV with just one tap
- Free version is available if you want to try it out before buying
HoursTracker is great because it’s really easy to get started and it lets you export your data into an open format (CSV, among others) so you’re not stuck with all your tracked time on your iPhone. The app is very easy to use and understand. You can get started without setting anything up. All you have to do is tap the “Clock In Now” button and you’ll be tracking your time. You’ll automatically have a sample job that you can edit later. When you’re ready to set up, all you have to do is edit the job details and switch between jobs when you want to track time for another task. You can specify earnings if you’re working for pay. Overall, HoursTracker is really comprehensive and flexible.
The interface could use a re-design, but fortunately HoursTracker’s usefulness far outweighs its average looks. The interface just isn’t that attractive, but it’s definitely well-designed from a use standpoint. This is kind of a shallow complaint, but with so many beautiful iPhone apps it’s hard to not hold everything to those high design standards.
HoursTracker is also $2.99. This is a price point that seems to draw the most debate among people. Some think it’s too expensive and others think it’s a good deal. Personally, I feel $3 is reasonable for an app you’re going to use. And, of course, you can always try out HoursTracker for free.
Finally, although the export options are really nice, a few more would be helpful. You have CSV so you can move to other apps, but Excel or even Numbers would be useful because you could then open either format as a spreadsheet in the mobile version of the app (theoretically). It would also be nice to be able to generate invoices directly from the app, but the export options provide you with enough flexibility that you’ll be able to take the data and do with it as you please when you get back to your computer.
Billings (free) is the app that, in many ways, ought to be called the best. It’s very, very well done. The problem is that while it’s free and completely sufficient for all your time tracking needs (on top of being the best-looking of the bunch), it was designed to integrate with the Billings app on Mac OS X. While that’s fantastic if you own that app, it’s not if you don’t (or don’t run Mac OS X, for that matter). It costs $US40. So while you can use its time-tracking features for free, if you want to get any data out of the app you need the help of its desktop counterpart. Again, this is a great app but it’s unfortunately a little too limited because of that one downside. It’s too bad they don’t make a stand-alone version and sell it for a few bucks.
aTimeLogger ($4.49) is a nice app for tracking your general, day-to-day activities. This doesn’t mean work projects, but work in general. That and eating, sleeping, going to a movie, spending time on a bus, walking around, and so on. If you want to keep track of what you do every second of your life and have related statistics on your iPhone, this is the app for you.
TimeWeks ($2.99 / Free) is a good option for tracking time and creating invoices. It’s a little cumbersome to get around the interface, as the actual time tracking part isn’t immediately accessible (you have to drill down into projects to get to it), but it’s a pretty solid choice — especially if you’re just grabbing the free version.
TimeTracker ($5.49) is a pretty good time tracker, but for the cost it’s not really worth it. It does make it easier to quickly add tasks and its sorting options are great, but with free/cheaper options available that do just as well you can probably pass on this one.
If you subscribe to invoicing services Harvest or Freshbooks, you also have some options. Harvest makes their own app (Free) and a third-party created MiniBooks Lite for Freshbooks (Free) so you can track and invoice time directly from your phone.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.