One of the most requested tasks that I'm asked to cover on Android is, surprisingly, time tracking. I've taken a number of applications out for testing. This time around, that application is Jiffy - Time tracker.
What impressed me the most with this application is its pure simplicity. With Jiffy, you don't have to sign up for an account of any kind. That, in and of itself, is a doubled-edged sword. What it means is that your information is limited to a single device... or is it? After a bit of tinkering, I managed to figure out how to get the same information on multiple Android devices. I'll show you just how to do that — but first, let's install and use Jiffy.
The installation of Jiffy is quite simple. Just follow this steps:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for Jiffy
- Locate and tap the entry for Jiffy - Time tracker by Nordic Usability
- Tap Install
- Read through the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once Jiffy is installed, you're ready to start using it.
This is what I like about Jiffy — you don't have to sign into an account to start working. It's free and ready to rock. However, that free price tag does come with a couple of caveats. The first is that you are limited to only three projects and three weeks of history. You can also only connect to three NFC tags. The good news is that, should you like Jiffy (and want to continue using the app), $2.99 will get you unlimited history and projects. If you happen to use NFC tags, you can also get unlimited tags for $0.99. These are both in-app purchases (tap the menu button and then tap Extensions to get to the purchase window).
The first thing you want to do with Jiffy is create a new project. From the main window, tap the Add project button (Figure A).
Jiffy running on a Verizon-branded Sony Xperia tablet.
Tap the Customer name field (Figure B) and enter a name (and color, which is optional) for the customer. Next, tap Project name and enter a name for the project.
Creating a new project with Jiffy.
If you already know tasks that need to be added, go ahead and tap Add task and give the task a name. Once you've completed this, tap OK to save the project. Once you've saved a project, the only way to add tasks to the project is to edit said project.
Tracking time with Jiffy is simple. You have your projects listed, and within each project is a task. To start adding time to a task, you simply tap the task and the timer will begin recording time for that task only (Figure C).
Tracking time for a single task.
Note: The task time continues to run, even if you close Jiffy.
Once you've completed that task (or just want to pause the timer), tap the task and the timer will stop and record the time. You can then get a detailed view of the time by tapping the TODAY/THIS WEEK section (bottom left corner) and then tapping the project listed (Figure D).
All of your current projects are listed and ready to display details.
In the task page, you'll see a breakdown of how much time you've spent on each task (Figure E).
Timing two tasks within a single project.
Here's where it gets the tiniest bit tricky. Say you want to keep the same data on two devices. Jiffy has the ability to do that, but it's not really intended to be used as such. What you do is backup your data on the main device to your Google Drive account and then restore the backup from the Google Drive account to the secondary device (both devices must be connected to the same Google account for this to work). You can set an auto backup (only once a day), so that when you start the day every morning, your data is ready to grab. Here's how to set this up:
- Open Jiffy on the main device
- From the main window, tap the menu button (three vertical dots in the upper right corner)
- Tap Backup & Restore
- Tap BACKUP TO (Figure F)
- Select Google Drive
- Tap the BACKUP button (upper right corner) to get an immediate backup
Backing up Jiffy to Google Drive.
Now, open Jiffy on the secondary device and do the following:
- Open Jiffy
- Tap the menu button
- Tap Backup & Restore
- Under the YOUR BACKUPS section, tap the most recent backup (Figure G) to restore that particular data
- Tap OK
Restoring data to a Verizon-branded LG G3.
That's it. Your data should now be the same on both devices. Of course, if you add data to the secondary, you then have to back it up and then restore it to the primary. This isn't ideal, but it's an easy way to get around that lacking feature in Jiffy.
If you're a one-person show, and you're looking for an easy way to keep track of project time, Jiffy is ready to serve in a ... well ... jiffy. With an outstanding interface and simple feature set, you'll find this particular take on the time tracking tool to be well worth the extra effort to sync across devices.
Do you use Android devices to keep track of project time? If so, what is your preferred method? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.