How iPhone Time Tracking Apps Can Transform Your Productivity

From 2005 to 2014, a designer named Nicholas Felton documented the texts he sent, books he read, places he went – all the elements of how he spent his time – in minute detail. He collected the results in an annual report that was a feat of time tracking and self-quantification.

“I just think this extra consideration that goes into everything I can do certainly makes me more mindful, like mindful of the streets I walk down, or mindful of what I put in my body,” Felton told Wired in 2015. “I’m not on auto-pilot.”

Despite our best efforts to fill out calendars and to-do lists, most of us don’t have such a strong sense of how we are using – and often wasting – our own time. As Felton shows, documenting our daily tasks can alert us to our own habits and help us optimize our waking hours.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a designer like Felton to achieve similar outcomes. There are already a number of iPhone productivity apps that can help you achieve personal and work-related goals, simply by recording what you do all day. A few of my favorites are below.

1. Toggl
Any professional who bills clients for time should be documenting how every hour of the day is spent. Measuring your time reveals whether you’re quoting accurately, whether you’re making or losing money on a project, and how to streamline your daily routine.

With Toggl, you just click a timer to log hours in real time. Your data then gets packaged in a report for you to review. It also works offline and you can retroactively add time that was missed.

2. Pomodoro Time

I’m a huge fan of the pomodoro time management technique for boosting productivity. Here’s the gist of the technique: you work on short, regular intervals, interspersed with breaks, to keep your mind fresh and prevent burnout.

If you’re recording how you spend each interval, you’ll get a complete log of your day without the exhaustion or stress of working nonstop towards a deadline. There are tons of pomodoro apps out there – Pomodoro Time keeps it simple, has a nice interface, and also allows you to set and track long term goals.

3. Hubstaff

In many professional settings, we’re not just tracking our own time but also that of our employees or team members. That’s where HubStaff comes in. It’s a comprehensive productivity tool that allows for everything from timesheets to payroll – the iOS app is a pared down version where you can track time and locations to specific projects and budgets.

4. Timely

Productivity isn’t just about measuring what we’ve done – it’s also about planning what we need to do. Timely merges these two goals by allowing you to schedule and log hours in the same place.

You design your calendar, carving out space for meetings, projects, and tasks, and then simply click an integrated timer to record how long each item actually takes. You’ll not only see exactly how you’re spending your workday, but also whether you are accurately planning ahead.

5. iOS 9 App Tracker

Those aimless minutes you spend browsing Instagram or online shopping can add up in ways you don’t realize. Fortunately, iOS 9 has a built-in feature that shows us exactly how much time we spend on different apps on our phone, which allows us to track our own personal time sucks and inefficiencies.

Just go to Settings, Battery, and click the clock logo on the right. You’ll get a report from the last 24 hours and the last 7 days.

How Google Hangouts Has Made Life More Difficult for Google Voice Users

As an entrepreneur I have used Google Voice on my iPhone for a few years. You get a phone number with a local area code from anywhere, and it’s free. Recently, though, Google decided to merge Google Voice with Google Hangouts the chat service. On the surface this is an idea with a lot of potential, but in practice Google has neglected some things that have made it more difficult to use Google Voice after the Hangouts merger.

#1. The call quality of Google Voice calls has declined dramatically in the Hangouts iOS app. The audio drops out randomly and the voice of the caller or the receiver will lag unexpectedly. This is especially nerve-racking when you are trying to handle something important or urgent and you can’t communicate clearly with your caller.

#2. There is no way to add a contact from within the app. If someone texts you introducing themselves, there is no “Add to Contacts” button that lets you add them to your phone. Furthermore, you can’t even highlight and copy the number to paste it into your Phone or Contacts app.

All you can do is memorize the number and type it into your contacts. It’s almost like Google didn’t even try to use Hangouts with Google Voice, because if they did, they would have certainly encountered this annoyance.

#3. You can no longer access your texts, calls, and voicemails in the browser. I used to check on my calls and texts in my browser, and I loved how I could perform text searches for text messages OR voicemails in Google Voice. Now that it’s been integrated with Google Voice, this feature no longer works. The only thing that works is the app client for Google Hangouts which is only available in Chrome.

#4. Hangouts mixes up chat and phone contacts. Another annoying thing is that when you search for a contact in Hangouts it doesn’t just show you your phone contacts, it also shows you other people from Hangouts, Google+ and the Google network. It also shows you the Hangouts accounts of your friends, many of whom won’t get your message on your phone except in Hangouts whenever they might sign in.

#5. If you make a phone call on Hangouts and you receive a new incoming call while you’re on the line, the incoming call forces the first call audio to drop. Your first call remains connected but it is muted. Huge problem when you’re on an important call.

Google Hangouts Not Fit to Replace Google Voice

Ever since the merger with Google Hangouts, it just hasn’t been the same for us Google Voice has-beens. The downsides of the new app (in terms of Google Voice features) seem so glaring to me that it makes me wonder how seriously Google takes the old functionality of providing a phone number for use on a mobile device — apparently, not very.

The new Google Voice service through Hangouts is so bad that I find myself scrambling to try to find an alternative solution before it becomes a detriment to my business.

Does anyone else feel like Google Voice users have been left in the dust? What alternatives would you recommend?

iPhone Apps vs. Apple Watch Apps: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Wondering what it’s like to have an Apple Watch to complement your iPhone? Here is a side-by-side visual comparison of all of the Apple Watch apps and their iPhone app counterparts.

Apple Watch Phone App

Apple Watch Phone App
The Apple Watch Phone app will connect with your iPhone via Bluetooth to let you place and receive calls right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Messages App

Apple Watch Messages App
The Apple Watch Messages app will ping you when a message arrives. You can respond with an audio voice message right from your wrist, or use voice-to-text to transcribe your message to text.

Apple Watch Mail App

Apple Watch Mail App
The Apple Watch Mail app will notify you of an incoming email and allow you to read it.

Apple Watch Camera App

Apple Watch Camera App
With the Apple Watch camera remote, you can set your iPhone somewhere and use your watch to snap the shot remotely.

Apple Watch Photos App

Apple Watch Photos App
You’ll be able to browse your photos — albeit tiny ones — right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Music App

Apple Watch Music App
The Apple Watch Music app connects to your iPhone and lets you control your music from your wrist.

Apple Watch Maps App

Apple Watch Maps App
The Apple Watch Maps app gives you a tiny turn-by-turn view of your route.

Apple Watch Weather App

Apple Watch Weather App
Check the temperature easily without accessing your phone using the Apple Watch Weather app.

Apple Watch Passbook App

Apple Watch Passbook App
The Apple Watch Passbook app gives you access to your tickets, coupons, and other entry passes right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Stocks App

Apple Watch Stocks App

Apple Watch Calendar App

Apple Watch Calendar App
The Apple Watch Calendar app shows you a succinct summary of your day’s appointments.

Apple Watch Settings App

Apple Watch Settings App
Control your Apple Watch in a way similar to your iPhone using the Settings app.

Apple Watch Siri

Apple Watch Siri
With Siri on the Apple Watch you can access all kinds of information with voice commands just as you can with your iPhone.

Apple Watch Remote App

Apple Watch Remote App
The Apple Watch Remote app lets you control your music, movies, or Apple TV right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Activity & Workout Apps

Apple Watch Activity & Workout Apps
With the Apple Watch, Apple will introduce the Activity and Workout apps which will give Watch users a way to track their motion, heart rate and exercise progress from their wrist.

Apple Watch Clock App

Apple Watch Clock App
With the Apple Watch, the Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, and World Clock are separate tiny apps, as opposed to the single Clock app on iPhone.

Apps Missing From the Apple Watch

You may notice some iOS apps missing from the Apple Watch. Paul Canetti points out in this great infographic that Safari and other notable apps are AWOL on the Watch:

iPhone Apps Not on Apple Watch

Apps not on the Apple Watch include:

  • Compass
  • Facetime
  • App Store
  • iTunes Store
  • Game Center
  • Newsstand
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Calculator
  • Podcast
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • iBooks
  • Voice Memos
  • Contacts
  • Safari

In addition, the introduction of the Apple Watch means all iPhone users now get an Apple Watch app, whether they like it or not.

So what do you think? Do the apps on Apple Watch complement the iPhone well? Is it worth it to get this new device for your wrist in addition to your iPhone? Please share your opinion in the comments.

8 Ways Google Voice is Great for Entrepreneurs

When I was considering what to do about getting a phone number for my local business in Gainesville, FL, I decided to go with Google Voice in tandem with my iPhone. Three years later, I am glad I did.

While Google Voice may not cut it as a big business/”Enterprise”-scale phone solution, it is great for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to save money with a simple and sensible phone service.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s free. With Google Voice there is no need to pay for a separate mobile or land line phone service for your business. You get a phone number instantly at This phone number can be your dedicated business number and you can direct it to your personal mobile phone (your iPhone) or any other line. Note Google Voice is not a VOiP solution, so you DO need to have a functioning phone line, but Google Voice eliminates the need to take on additional costs for a business line by letting you merge your business number with your current phone line(s).
  2. Localize your phone number. If your mobile area code is not of the place where you are doing business, you can get a local phone number with Google Voice. For example, although I live in Gainesville, FL, I am from Miami, FL and my mobile area code reflects that. By getting a Google Voice number with an area code localized to Gainesville, it makes my business appear more legitimate with a local number.
  3. Maintain a separate account for business matters. Even if your current phone number is localized to the place where you are doing business, do you really want to give business contacts your personal phone number? With Google Voice, you can keep your phone number, text messages, and phone calls under a dedicated service so as to not mix your personal life with business.

    You can even activate the “Do Not Disturb” feature in your Google Voice account to send business calls straight to voicemail, while still maintaining the ability to receive calls on your personal number.

  4. Text messages and voicemails are accessible and searchable from the web. One of the best features of Google Voice compared to your regular mobile phone service is its cloud capabilities and accessibility from the web. Log into and you can see all your text messages, incoming/outgoing calls, and text transcriptions of your voicemail.

    Furthermore, you can search through your text message, call, and voicemail history to access communications from long ago.

    Recently I wanted to return a call from a corporate prospect who had called me months before about a potential business deal. Back then, my company was not equipped to serve this client, but as we’ve grown and become more capable, I decided to call this person back with a new proposition. I didn’t have their number in my contacts, but searching Google Voice turned up their past voicemail immediately and we are now in communication about working together.

  5. Voicemail transcription saves you time. Beyond its searchability, Google Voice’s voicemail transcription feature is a great way to filter voicemails without necessarily having to listen to them. Sometimes someone leaves you a voicemail about something that you know is not a high priority for you at the moment. Instead of wasting time listening to the voicemail, you can scan the transcription and find keywords that indicate the subject matter of the call, then decide whether to address it immediately or set it aside to deal with later.
  6. Reduce spam phone calls. Google’s spam-busting expertise is also apparent in its Voice service. Google Voice allows you to send calls that Google identifies as spam straight to a Spam inbox where you are not disturbed by them. Although some spam calls still do make it through the filter, many do not. When you are a business with a public phone number, you are extremely vulnerable to intrusive commercial calls, so this spam filtering feature is a huge time saver for an entrepreneur.
  7. Archive and share calls with business partners. Perhaps you are not the only one in the business handling phone calls. In this case, you can forward your Google Voice calls to multiple phone numbers. You can also have records of all calls, voice mails, and text messages sent to your email to be shared with your secretary or business partners. Last but not least, Google Voice allows you to record phone calls, which can also be archived by email.
  8. Separate rules for different caller groups. Perhaps different partners and employees manage different areas of your business. If you know that a particular client is likely to call about a particular subject matter, you can have Google Voice forward that client’s call to the most relevant number. This is an enormously useful feature for delegating responsibilities and client relationships to your teammates.

    You can also assign different voicemail greetings to different callers or groups.

Recently, Google Voice merged with Google Hangouts, so you can now receive your calls on a desktop using Hangouts in the Chrome browser. I am excited about the future of this integration between Voice and Hangouts.

Do you use Google Voice at your business or organization? Please share your experience in the comments.

Viber for iPhone: How You Can Get at Least 800% More Calling Time Abroad Over 3G or Wi-Fi

Viber for iPhone

If you have an iPhone under AT&T and you are traveling to Europe or some other place outside of North America, you can expect to pay literally $1 to $2 per minute under AT&T’s International Calling Packages.

The $30 per month plan for traveling to Europe gets you 30 minutes. The $30 per month plan for traveling to other parts outside North America or Europe gets you 15 minutes.

Now, get this: for that same $30, you could purchase an International Data Package from AT&T that gets you 120 MB of 3G usage, which you can use to make calls using the Viber app for iPhone.

Because the Viber iPhone app uses approximately 500KB (half of one megabyte) per minute of data to make a call, your $30 international data plan (120 MB) would get you approximately 240 minutes of calling time over 3G. That is 800% more calling time than you would get if you purchased the equally priced international calling package.

What’s more, calls made with Viber over Wi-Fi are free. And it can send text and picture messages, too.

That’s why my family uses Viber when traveling abroad.

Considering Viber versus an international calling plan? It’s a no-brainer.

The Viber app eliminates the need to buy into expensive international calling or text messaging plans. You will get more calling time and save big bucks.

If you are traveling abroad, don’t even think twice: download the Viber app.

5 Ways I Use SugarSync to Sync and Share Files, Music & Photos in the Cloud

SugarSync iPhone

In just a month, SugarSync has become one of my most valued iPhone apps.

I recently decided that it was time to get serious about backing up my files. With all of the projects that I work on, it would be a major setback to lose the data on my harddrive.

While most of my files are backed up on hosting servers — specifically HostGator, which I trust a lot after 5 years — even the best web hosting servers can go down and you could end up with a near-tragedy on your hands. Imagine losing everything.

I originally downloaded SugarSync specifically so that I could back up my iPhone photos as I take them. But since then, I’ve come to realize how useful, and important, a good cloud storage service really is.

Below are 5 ways that I use SugarSync and the SugarSync iPhone app:

  1. To back up my iPhone photos as soon as I take them. SugarSync lets you take photos from within the iPhone app and they get stored automatically. Or you can use the workaround that I figured out to route your photos through Dropbox and use the CameraSync app to back them up. This was the original reason I downloaded SugarSync. I chose SugarSync vs. Dropbox for the following reason:
  2. To back up specific, important files on my computer. This is why I chose SugarSync vs. Dropbox. With Dropbox, you designate a “Dropbox” folder and then put your important files and folders in that folder to be backed up. I prefer SugarSync’s approach, where you leave your files in their intended places and simply tell SugarSync which folders you want backed up by clicking the menu option “Add folder to SugarSync.”

    Update: A commenter has clarified that Dropbox now allows you to select folders outside of the Dropbox folder to sync.

  3. To access my files from anywhere with the SugarSync iPhone app. Not only does SugarSync back up folders like your typical external harddrive, but it stores them on secure servers AND lets you access them anywhere you go through the iPhone app. If you download a compatible app, such as Documents To Go, you can even edit the files, too.
  4. To access and stream my music from anywhere using the SugarSync iPhone app and online music player. I only recently learned about SugarSync’s music player and I love it for this reason: I can store my music in the cloud and remove it from my iPhone to clear out space, then use SugarSync’s music player to play my music from the cloud.
  5. To share files with anyone, at any time. The other day, I needed to send someone a document, but I had written the document on my laptop originally without the intent to share it. Luckily, SugarSync automatically backed it up as soon as it was saved, and it’s now accessible from my iPhone.

The above reasons are a few of the reasons to use SugarSync, but an email they sent me today suggested a number of other uses for SugarSync:

There are some very powerful ways you can use your new SugarSync account – here are highlights of our top 10:

1.) Back up and secure your data (you never know when your computer will crash)
2.) Access all of your files on the go (from any browser or mobile phone)
3.) Share entire folders and collaborate on projects
4.) Send large files you usually (try to) email or FTP
5.) Share high res photo galleries with friends and families
6.) Stream your entire music collection
7.) Take pictures with your iPhone, auto-sync them to your computer
8.) Open, edit and save office docs with your Blackberry
9.) Work from home, without having to lug around your work computer
10.) Restore all your data if your computer crashes or is stolen

Click to join SugarSync (free)»

Will iCloud Destroy SugarSync?

Apple will soon release a similar cloud service called iCloud, which will give you 5GB free (same as SugarSync) and give you anywhere-access to your files, media, contacts, etc.

iCloud certainly has the potential to crush SugarSync, since it is a similar service and will integrate well with the iOS software. In the end, however, competition is good for consumers overall, so I look forward to seeing what innovations the other cloud services unveil to compete with Apple.

I for one will probably stick with SugarSync unless iCloud offers a far superior value.

Note: This post contains referral links.