CatchApp is a freemium iPhone only app (sorry, no Android
version) that lets you track activities on various cloud apps. Currently, no
native iPad version of the app is available. It's useful for project teams and
even freelancers who want another level of tracking over how they interact with
cloud apps during the course of their work.
This app might be of interest to highly mobile or geographically dispersed teams that want a view into what their co-workers are working on across their cloud application. When you connect CatchApp to one of the supported cloud apps, it publishes your application activity to a chronological newsfeed. Figure A shows an example of a CatchApp newsfeed.
As for application integration options, CatchApp has picked a nice cross-section of cloud apps to support. The only cloud app I found conspicuously missing was Office 365. My wish list cloud app for them to support is Asana.
CatchApp supports a number of popular cloud applications, including:
- Google Drive
- Google Calendar
- Pivotal Tracker
- Salesforce Chatter
It also supports Twitter and RSS feeds to round out the options.
You and your team can use CatchApp free up to a limit of 100 feed updates per month. The developer also lets you increase your limit of updates by referring new users to CatchApp, enabling you to earn up to 1,000 free updates per month.
Unless you're on a large team or a team that works through lots of tasks, documents, and activities, the 100 feed updates per month should last you through the month. However, if you want to use CatchApp with high-transaction volume cloud apps like GitHub, Pivotal Tracker, or one of the cloud help desks, then you can be certain you and your team will burn through those 100 free feed updates early in the month.
When you tap the gear icon, you can access the Tracked apps screen, which includes links to all the apps CatchApp supports. Figure B shows that I'm tracking the TechRepublic folder on a Dropbox account, all notebooks in my Evernote account, and my Google Calendar.
When you tap on one of the entries in your newsfeed, a Details screen for the item appears (Figure C).
Tap Add to add another cloud app to open your Tracked apps list. Figure D shows the Start tracking screen.
Next, tap on the app you want to track. In the case of an app like Google Drive, you have the option to track all files in the cloud account or files in a specified folder. Once you specify your tracking option, then CatchApp attempts to connect to your account. When I was connecting to Google Drive, the app displayed a message that said, "We will not store passwords."
I had some minor connection problems between CatchApp and my Google Drive account. Though I'm not quite sure, I would point the blame at CatchApp, because it happened when I was writing at one of my favorite work haunts, and my iPhone had connection issues with the café's Wi-Fi. However, later on the same day, I received an alert that CatchApp was on a maintenance break when I was using the app.
CatchApp lets you create color-coded lists for app tracking, which can be useful for organizing your apps across projects or teams. I rank the rest of the app as solid, but the list feature could benefit from some usability tweaks for users like me who fly blind into apps before reading the documentation. For example, when I tapped Get started, I got sent to a blank Start tracking screen, but creating lists isn't a mandatory task.
You also have the option to have a Daily Catch Up email sent to you that breaks down your team's activities from the previous day. I had the email sent to me during testing, and I occasionally found some activities that I forgot I accomplished during the course of some writing projects, making it somewhat helpful for me.
Upgrading to CatchApp premium
The first month of CatchApp includes CatchApp premium free, and this includes unlimited newsfeed updates. After the first month, you have to pay $4.99/month or $49.99/year. These sorts of subscription prices are a judgment call for you and your team. Once my free month of CatchApp premium had expired, I didn't have an ongoing need for the app to justify the cost.
Note: The fine print states that the subscription renews automatically if it isn't cancelled 24 hours before the end of the current period. Furthermore, you can't cancel a subscription in the middle of a period.
I've been using CloudApp since before the holidays, and it gives me another way to check where I've put files across the cloud apps I use in my writing workflow. From a business prospective, I can see its uses for small to mid-sized project teams.
Is your team using CatchApp? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.