Tracking your habits is a great way to keep an eye on your progress for a variety of self-improvement goals, and you have an incredible number of apps for doing so on the iPhone. However, when it comes to performance and ease of use, we like Productive, because it blends simplicity with the statistics you want to see.
- Tracks up to five habits for free, unlimited for $5.99
- Habits fit into a number of different schedules, including specific times or days
- View your stats in a number of different ways, with different data points
- Easy to add new habits and see your schedule for the day
- Tracks streaks, but doesn't make you practise a habit daily to keep a streak
- Support for reminder with different time options for alarms
Where It Excels
Apps that track your habits are a dime a dozen, so to separate from the pack, an app needs to be easy to use, but still track a lot of data. Productive nails both. You can add a new habit by pulling down on the main screen. You're then taken to a menu where you can assign that habit a time of day and day of the week, and add a notification. You can set a habit to recur as rarely as once a month, bi-weekly, or on specific days.
Once you set all that up, Productive's daily dashboard displays the habits you have set for the day and you can swipe to mark them as done. You can tap any habit to see a detailed set of statistics, including your current streak and best streak. You can also check out the Life Log to see how you're doing in general.
All this means that Productive works for a number of different types of goal setters. If the idea of "don't break the chain" is appealing to you, Productive supports streaks that form into chains. If it's less about daily activity and more about slowly building a healthy habit over time, Productive can help there too. Productive appeals to a lot of different types of people with different types of schedules, so it's a great entry point if you're not sure which methods work for you.
Where It Falls Short
It's nice that Productive has a free version so you can check it out without paying anything, but most people will need to pony up the $5.99 for the full version. The free version only allows you to set up five habits and doesn't give you statistics or notifications for individual habits.
Productive is pretty good about displaying tracked data in a couple different formats, but if you're a data nerd looking to visualise your habits in a specific way, Productive won't cut it. Productive is also missing deadlines, which is problematic if you're tracking something like financial goals. Productive is iOS-only, which means if you switch to Android at some point, or if you want to track habits on your desktop, you're out of luck.
Motivation is a very personal thing, so it's hard to say that Productive is a "perfect" app. The habit tracking app that works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. Thankfully, you have a lot of different options, and some take a different approach from Productive entirely.
HabitBull (Free / $7.99), is the closest contender to Productive and is a good option if you don't like how Productive works. My main issue with HabitBull is how long it takes to add a habit. You have to tap through several different fields of information each time and HabitBull tracks so much data that the interface ends up feeling a bit cluttered. For some people, this is great. You really can visualise your habits in a variety of ways, track streaks, look at a calendar and even discuss habits with other users. If you have the patience to learn the interface quirks, HabitBull is a great app with a ton of data.
Strides (Free / $6.99 per month / $54.99 per year) is another habit tracking app aimed at data geeks. Like HabitBull, you can set goals and targets. You can also set milestones, and Strides allows you to set certain parameters that make it better than HabitBull or Productive to track habits that have more concrete values, like financial goals. If you want a numbers-focused habit tracker, Strides might be the app you're looking for.
Streaks ($5.99) is probably the best looking habit tracking app out there and it's absolutely the simplest. While you can track any number of habits, it feels built primarily for health-based goals. Streaks automatically brings in your data from Apple's Health app, which means it can automatically track any exercise habits you have linked in there. As the name suggests, Streaks is built around trying to keep a habit alive for streaks. You'll get a calendar view and a graph of your performance, but Streaks doesn't provide the same number of data viewing options as some of the other apps. Regardless, Streaks is the habit tracking app best suited for tracking exercise habits or for anyone who likes a simpler approach.
Finally, Habitica (Free) is the best app for anyone looking to gamify their habits a bit. Formally known as HabitRPG, Habitica tracks a variety of habits and gives you little in-app rewards that resemble a RPG. You can also compete with friends to keep track of each other's progress. Habitica isn't just for habits, it's also a to-do app, and while its dual nature is great for some people, it also means it's a little lacking as habit-tracker because it doesn't allow for much flexibility in goal setting outside of daily tasks. Still, it's a fantastic app for anyone who loves old school RPGs, and the fun interface and design makes it a joy to use.
Lifehacker's App Directory recommends the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.