Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to have to use a corporate hours-tracking/billing system will know that they typically give every impression of being designed by an enraged gorilla working to a spec provided by a sadistic accountant.
Tapity, which won an Apple Design Award back in 2011 for “the ultimate app for students” Grade, has today launched Hours, a simple color-coded app it says aims to take the pain out of time-tracking. I’ve been using a pre-release version for the past week so that I could let you know my thoughts on the day it launched …
Getting up-and-running with Hours couldn’t be easier. When you first open it, you’re looking at a screen with a timeline across the top and an ‘Add new timer’ prompt with a green ‘+’ icon. Hit that and you get this screen:
The only required info is a project name. You can optionally specify a client and a task, depending on the level of detail you need in the reporting, and can choose a color code from a palette of 16 colors (half of them shown above, the other half scrollable to a second screen).
Once you’ve created your projects, they appear in a list and you simply hit the clock icon on the right-hand side to start the timer. While running, it displays a running total in hours, minutes and seconds on the right, and a cumulative total for the day in hours and minutes.
When you switch to a different project, just hit the clock icon next to that: the old timer stops and the new one starts.
You can see the cumulative times for each project on the left-hand side.
By default, Hours times everything to the minute. If that’s too messy, there’s an option in Settings to switch on rounding. The default rounding increment is 15 minutes, but you can change this to anything from a minute to an hour.
The increment you choose will also apply if you edit times. This is intended for those occasions when you forget to switch timers. In the timeline at the top of the screen, simply scroll back to the time block you want to edit, tap it and an edit window opens up.
Hit the left or right chevrons to adjust start or end times. If you have rounding set to 10 minutes, for example, the edited time will increase and decrease in 10-minute units. You can also use the edit function to add notes to any block of time.
You can review earlier days by hitting the calendar icon top-left, select your day and then scroll the timeline within that.
The settings also allow you to choose your time format between 12- and 24-hour clocks, and between hours and minutes and decimals.
If you think you may forget to use the app, you can set it to remind you. Switch reminders on, tell it your working days and then set the rules. In this case, I have it set to Mon-Fri and told it to remind me if I haven’t started a timer by 9.30am, still have one running at 7pm or have gone an hour without tracking.
If you enter your time into a corporate system daily, you can just read the numbers direct from the iPhone screen. If you do it weekly or monthly, you can go into Settings > Reporting, hit the week you want and then read off the totals directly from there – though these totals are only shown to the nearest hour. In the examples shown, I’ve only been tracking for three-and-a-bit days, but it gives you the idea.
One small quibble here is that the on-screen report doesn’t use the project colour-coding.
You can export a report in either PDF or CSV format – the latter allowing you to edit the data in Excel or Numbers. You can, however, only do this one week at a time.
One oddity I found with the CSV output was that blank cells ended up with ‘â€“’ in them:
If you’re very lucky, your corporate system will allow you to import a CSV file, but the chances are that it won’t. Tapity says that it plans to allow importing of data directly into popular small business and enterprise timekeeping and billing systems in a future update.
I’m fortunate enough to have been free from corporate time-reporting systems for many years, but I can still remember how painful it was. I felt like there should have been a time code for the time it took to enter your hours into the damn thing.
Hours won’t, yet, do this for you: you’ll still have to manually enter the details. But what it will do is give you the world’s easiest way of tracking your time in the first place, so you won’t have to
make it up estimate it at the end of the month.
For those like myself who are self-employed, it can give a useful insight into how you’re spending your time. Probably best not to create categories for Twitter and Facebook usage, though, unless you’re feeling brave …
Hours normally costs $9.99, but is being made available from iTunes at a special launch price of $4.99 for a limited period. If you’re a corporate user, and Hours allows you to only use your company’s system weekly or monthly instead of daily, it has to be worth every cent.
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