If you’re an independent contractor or a small shop in need of an easy method of keeping tabs of work-related time, your tablet or smartphone and a free app might be all you need to ensure you’re billable time is up to date and ready for invoicing. Of course, not all time-tracking apps are created equal, but there are plenty of apps in the Google Play Store that offer all the features you need — and in some cases, more than you need. But which apps are best suited for the job? I tested a lot of them to find five I consider to be at the top of the list. Let’s dig in and see if any of my picks will suit your purposes.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Jiffy

Jiffy (Figure A) is one of those apps that gives you an immediate appreciation for how a clean and well-designed interface aids in the usage of a task. Its simple main screen makes it incredibly easy to get your time at a glance. One of Jiffy’s best features is that it doesn’t require an account of any kind.

Figure A

The only caveat to using Jiffy is that it doesn’t let you export or share/send your time. But its ability to track sub-project time makes up for this. You can also do automatic backups. The free version of Jiffy does limit you on the number of history and projects you can have. Unlocking this limit will cost you only a $2.99 in-app purchase.

2: aTimeLogger

aTimeLogger (Figure B) doesn’t offer the clean interface of Jiffy, but it does have a bit more in the way of flexibility. It includes goals, easy pause/resume, Tasker integration, reporting, groups, and more. When you use aTimeLogger, you must first create groups specific to your needs. By default, there is a Work group, but it’s generic. You’ll want to create groups for each project so you can keep track of time for specific tasks. (Otherwise, you’re just keeping time for Work, Sleep, Transport, etc.)

Figure B

From the Groups tab, tap the + button and create a new group specific to a certain project or job. With that new group created, you can associate items (such as work, travel, etc.) and track that time (and even track time for multiple items). The aTimeLogger app takes a bit of acclimation, but once you’re accustomed to its usage, you’ll be good to go.

3: Timesheet

Timesheet (Figure C) does a great job of breaking down your time by allowing you to easily assign tasks to projects. With this free app, you can add tags, breaks, and expenses, add notes to tasks, and even export your time to an Excel or CSV list.

Figure C

One really great feature (currently in beta) is associating a task to a specific WLAN. With this feature, you can automatically start time on a specific task as soon as the defined WLAN is within range. Using this option will ensure that you never forget to start time on a task associated with a client on a specific wireless network. Once you stop time on a task, you can add specifics to what work you did and even include an emoticon for how you’re feeling about the task and whether the task status is paid. You can view your tasks in specific time ranges or view them all. Timesheet also keeps a running total of your weekly time on the main screen, so you can get an at-a-glance update on where you stand.

4: Timesheet (same name, different app)

This Timesheet app (Figure D) is a great tool to help you when you’re on the go, allowing you to manage time, expenses, and mileage. Unlike the other apps on this list, however, it doesn’t include a handy timer to start and stop. Instead, you must manually enter your arrive and leave time (as well as pause ─ or break ─ minutes).

Figure D

In the window where you add time to a project, you can add expense costs and mileage driven, as well as notes and tasks. I will warn you about this app: Consider it a generic time-tracking tool. You won’t be adding a lot of subtasks to projects. In fact, I have been able to add only three tasks to select from. Because of this, you’ll want to create tasks like Sysadmin, Networking, Maintenance, or other generic tasks you regularly do and need to keep track of. What I really like about this app is that its no-frills approach makes it easy for you to manually keep track of time on your main projects or jobs. Sometimes, manual tracking is all you need.

5: Time Recording

Time Recording (Figure E) is another stand-alone app that doesn’t require logging into an account yet offers plenty of features to meet your demanding timekeeping needs. You can assign tasks, clock in/out, add detailed notes, export time to Excel or HTML formats, configure hourly rates, set up auto backup, use a widget for a quick view of daily totals, and take advantage of Google Drive and Dropbox integration. The interface does a bit of a learning curve. Just adding clients and tasks takes awhile to figure out, so be sure you read through the website to get your bearings first. Once you’re up to speed, however, Time Recording is a powerful time-tracking tool.

Figure E

Other options?

Keeping track of time worked while on the go doesn’t have to be a challenge. Whether you’re looking for something basic or more complex, one of these five apps will do a great job of making sure your time is successfully recorded.

What is your go-to time tracking app when you’re on the go? Share your picks with fellow TechRepublic members.

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