In our Apps of the Year series, The Next Web team shares personal recommendations for our favorite apps of 2014.
Eight times per day, at differing times, my iPhone asks me to fill in a report about what I’m doing. Each time, I log my location, whether I’m working or not and who I’m with. Before I go to sleep, I tell it how many cups of coffee I’ve had that day, and when I wake up I tell it how well I slept.
This isn’t part of some scary mass-data collection program, it’s Reporter, a $3.99 app that offers a way of privately logging what you do in life in order to spot trends in what you do or don’t do enough of.
It’s fully customizable, too. While I’ve stuck pretty much to the default questions, you can build whatever kind of survey you like, tailored to the goals you have. Maybe you want to work less, or exercise more, or just see what kinds of tasks take up most of your time. Reporter is flexible and easy to set up, and you can choose how many times per day you want it to prompt you to fill in a report.
As you collect data about your life, Reporter’s graphs start make sense of the trends in your answers. So, I’m able to see that I watch way more television than I thought I did, while I only feel ‘Great’ after sleep 33 percent of the time. My coffee consumption has been tending upwards in recent weeks too, although I’ll put that down to the cold winter days.
I enjoy tracking my behavior via the graphs and charts on offer, although I’d love it if the data visualizations offered more in the way of correlation-spotting. Every time you fill in a report, metadata like your geolocation, height above sea level, steps taken since last report and the current weather are all logged, but there’s no way to see how that may relate to the things you enter into that report. The developers have promised more in the way of data-vis in the future, which can only be a good thing.
If you’re concerned about where all this personal data is stored, worry not – it remains locally on your device (and can be backed up to, but currently not restored from, your Dropbox account).
Make sure you backup your iOS device regularly to avoid losing your data, and if you get a new device, you’ll have to restore it from a backup of your old one in order to keep building on top of your existing Reporter data. This is a little bit of a pain, but it saves having (yet more) potentially sensitive information about you out there in the cloud.
Of all the apps released in 2014, I’ve opened Reporter way more time than any other. If you want insight into the things you do, or need some help to change your habits, it’s well worth spending some time with.