Toggl Timer: Keeping Time Tracking Mobile

As a freelancer, it is important to keep track of how much time I spend on each project I am working on. Yet, when it comes to tracking my time, I quite honestly suck at it. It is one of those things that I always think I will remember to mark down later and almost always forget.

Recently I came across a web app called Toggl. The simplicity of Toggl, together with the data it can capture and breakdown for me, meant I fell in love with the app straight away. But I quickly realised that I don’t always have my computer with me when I need to track my time. Therefore, when I saw that there was an iPhone app, I wanted to know how the Toggl Timer compared to the Toggl web version. Let’s find out.

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You + Toggl Timer: Love at First Sight?

Scraps of paper with numbers on them, overflowing mental reminders and indecipherable notes in my reminders app — up until recently, these were some of my favourite forms of tracking the time I spent on projects. Not very efficient, nor very professional. Something had to change.

Toggl, the web app, is already awesome. Could Toggl Timer be just as great?

Toggl, the web app, is already awesome. Could Toggl Timer be just as great?

My first solution was the Toggl web app, which is wonderful in itself, but I also needed something for when I was out and about, away from the computer. Enter the Toggl Timer iPhone app.

Design and Interface

When you first launch the app, you will be prompted to log in. This can be done using your Toggl account (if you have one) or via Google (you will then have to grant Toggl certain Google permissions). If you prefer a separate Toggl account and don’t have one, you can create one via the button at the bottom of the screen.

Sign in with your Toggl account or via Google.

Sign in with your Toggl account or via Google.

To start a new time entry, just add the task in the first box and press the Start button. Additional fields can be added (project and tags, for example) by tapping those specific fields. If the task you wish to enter has already been completed, then you can also add the date, start and finish times in the same way as adding the project and tags. To stop timing you only need to press the big red Stop button. To continue a previous task, tap the green arrow to the right of the task you wish to continue.

To refresh your tasks, provide feedback or logout, tap your account name at the top right hand corner of the screen. It really is as simple as that.

The Magic of Syncing

Toggl Timer automatically syncs entries to your online account. “Eating Chocolate” showed up in my online data faster than I could say KitKat. Likewise, recent new items created in the web version of Toggl will show up on your iPhone when Toggl Timer next syncs.

If you happen to be working offline using the app, you will receive a warning at the top of the screen to indicate that your new entries have not been synced. Heading back online gets you all synced up again (sometimes a little help in the form of using the refresh button helps to speed the syncing up).

Performance

Reviews in the App Store for previous versions of Toggl Timer mention that the app regularly crashes. The current version does not seem to have the same reviews and during my time of using the app, I didn’t experience any crashes. Overall, my user experience with Toggl Timer was smooth, easy and fast, so it looks like the developers have ironed out the bugs from previous versions.

Starting and stopping the timing of a task is as easy as tapping a button.

Starting and stopping the timing of a task is as easy as tapping a button.

When the Owner is Away, The Timer Will Play

One of my main concerns when considering Toggl Timer was whether or not I would need to keep the app open for the timer to continue running. Visions of a steadily decreasing battery had me biting my nails as I started a task and then closed the app. I am happy to report that closing the app does not stop the timer. Even closing the app and locking the screen presents no challenge to the Toggl Timer.

What It Can and Can’t Do

If you stumbled across the Toggl Timer app on its own without ever having spent time with its online sidekick, then it is likely you will be disappointed. Toggl Timer on its own does not produce reports, lacks fancy bells and whistles, and does not have the ability to time more than one task at a time. If you want all of those things in a standalone iPhone app, then you will do better looking for something else.

To continue a previous task, tap the green arrow next to the task.

To continue a previous task, tap the green arrow next to the task.

On the other hand, if you are willing to use Toggl Timer as an additional tool to the Toggl product, then you have an easy-to-use option at your fingertips. Although you still can’t track multiple tasks at once, which will probably make some of you zen types much happier.

In Conclusion

Overall, Toggl Timer does exactly what I had hoped it would do. It allows me to quickly and easily track the time I spend on tasks (principally tasks related to client work) when I am away from my computer. The fact that I don’t need an internet connection or even to have the app open while timing, makes it even more useful. There were a few niggles that I had with Toggl Timer — primarily that there seems to be no way to see all of the tasks that you have tracked previously in the web app — but this is not a major negative in my book.

Toggl Timer is the perfect addition to your time tracking arsenal if you are (or will begin) using its related web app, Toggl. As a standalone app, it is a little less useful but in a pinch it could mean the difference between properly tracking time and scribbling down times and dates on a scrap of paper that you can’t find an hour later.


Summary

An iPhone extension to the time tracking web app, Toggl.

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