I know that many attorneys are interested in tracking their billable hours on their iPhones. I understand this; your iPhone is with you virtually all of the time, so why not use it to keep track of what you are doing while you are doing it. But for me, it just seems easier to wait until I am back in the office to enter my time directly into my law firm's time entry system using my PC. (My firm uses Elite.) For that reason, I haven't had the opportunity to take a close and real-world look at the numerous applications that exist for tracking your time.
Nevertheless, I have kept tabs on these apps, mostly out of curiosity, and I thought that it might be helpful to post what I know about what is out there. Little did I know when I started this post how many apps exist to track your time. I found 17 on the iTunes store, and that was after excluding a few that seemed inappropriate or unfinished. [UPDATE on 2/5/09: I found another one, Eternity Time Log, which you can read about here.] [UPDATE on 2/6/09: There are also online options that work with the iPhone.] [UPDATE 4/15/09: I have added a review of Time Master, another excellent time tracking app.]
The core features are similar across the apps. The good ones offer you a choice to either use a timer to keep track of your time or to manually enter time if you are doing it at the end of the day. The better ones let you edit time that was entered by the timer. Most apps let you e-mail your time entries to yourself (or your secretary) to be added to a full time entry program. Many apps have extra features which range from interesting to useless depending upon your needs -- for example, a few let you prepare invoices on your iPhone. All but one are under $10; the cheapest is $0.99 and the most expensive is $59.99.
My guess is that the first three apps listed below would be the most useful for many attorneys, but it really depends upon how simple or complicated you want the program to be. I encourage any of you who have used one or more of these programs to post a comment to share your opinions with others. Note that what I am providing today is just a survey of the available apps, not a review of any particular apps. I only tried some of these, so most of my comments are based upon the description in iTunes and on the developer's website and the comments on iTunes.
The apps I am listing today are (in no particular order; this is not a ranking):
- Billbull by Exparte Staffing
- iTimeSheet by JF Grang softwares
- Easy TimeSheet by Augustine Software
- PocketPunchclock by EpIPhone Coders' Guild
- PunchClock by return7
- My Time by Owen Shaw
- Billable Hours by Jake MacMullin
- Timewerks by Sorth LLC
- TDF Time by Technical Data Freeway, Inc.
- Jobs by Bjango
- LionClock by Smart Software Development
- ClockedIn by kyoobed, inc.
- Time Tracker by SDK Innovation Ltd.
- Time Tracker by Jens Eickmeyer
- Time Keeper by iHarwood.com
- Bill4Time Mobile by Broadway Billing Systems
- 24hTrack by Roland Fieger
• Billbull by Exparte Staffing. Exparte Staffing is a legal staffing agency in New York. Alon Karpman, the Managing Director (and an attorney) wrote me a few weeks ago to tell me about this app and I have played with it a little. To enter time you choose a client, then you can choose a matter, task and/or note, then you click a START button to start counting time, or alternatively you can just manually enter the time you spent. To choose a client, the client must first be listed in the Contacts on your iPhone. You can review lists of how much time you spent on different clients, matters, etc. and the app lets you send an e-mail with that data so that you or your secretary can enter it into your time management system. There are only a few reviews on iTunes, but they are mostly positive, except that some people don't like that a client has to be a preexisting entry in your Contacts. Billbull is the only app I am listing today that appears to be specifically designed for attorneys, but I don't know how much difference that really makes. I had a few minor issues with the app. For example, if you are reviewing your hours and then add another time entry for the day, you will be returned to the list but the time you just added doesn't appear until you switch to another view and then switch back. I also had some minor issues selecting clients. But let me emphasize that I did not use this for my real world time tracking and my use was limited, so these may have just been one-time quirks. Billbull costs $3.99 and you can download it here:
• iTimeSheet by JF Grang softwares. This looks a great program by a French developer. Like Billbull you can either use a timer to enter time, or you can enter time manually by telling the app how many hours you spent on a task. One nice feature that seems to be unique to iTimeSheet is that you can add a picture to use as an icon for a client, which makes it easy to quickly see the different clients you worked for when you scan through a bunch of time entries. The export function also looks very nice -- a nicely formatted Excel file that you e-mail to yourself or your secretary. Even better than just looking at the two pictures below, there is a nice 16 minute video on the developer's website that shows you what the app does. I think a lot of lawyers will really like this app. There is even a free, Lite version of the app. The Lite version only allows for one project, but it allows you to get a feel for how the app works. iTimeSheet costs $5.99 and you can download it here: If you want to try the free Lite version, you can download it here:
• Easy TimeSheet by Augustine Software. I have only played around with this one a little bit, but it also looks like a nice app. For each entry you can have a project name, a code and a comments field (which a lawyer can use to describe what you were doing). After you record your time, buttons make it easy to adjust the time up or down in case you started or stoped the app's clock at the wrong time. You can e-mail a report of your time, although frankly the report looks a little cryptic. I suppose you get used to it after a while. Like iTimeSheet, there is a free Lite version that works with just one project so you can get a sense of how the app works. Easy TimeSheet costs $2.99 and you can download it here: If you want to try the free Lite version, you can download it here:
• PocketPunchclock by EpIPhone Coders' Guild. This unique feature of this app is that it tracks not only the time you spent on the task, but also the location where you did the task, using the iPhone's GPS function. I can't for the life of me imagine why an attorney (or client) would want to know where you were when you did a task, but if you want that feature, this is the app for you. Also, according to the reviews on iTunes, it records time in seconds, not .1 or .25 intervals -- but the app description appears to contradict this (so perhaps this was fixed in an update). There are a lot of positive reviews for this app, so if you are looking for the best one you might want to check this one out too. PocketPunchbook costs $4.99 and you can download it here:
• PunchClock by return7. Simple interface allows you to punch in and out on different projects. It gets good reviews on iTunes for being simple but efficient. PunchClock costs $1.99 and you can download it here:
• My Time by Owen Shaw. My Time allows you to define a list of projects and all of them are listed on a page. You tap on a project to start a clock and you can switch to another project by tapping another one. That feature seems handy. You can export a report via e-mail. I cannot verify this myself, but some reviewers on iTunes claim that you can only record the time you spent on the project -- you cannot add notes to actually describe what you did. Recording that you spent .4 hours on the Smith v Jones case might not be very useful if you cannot note what you did during those .4 hours. My Time costs $3.99 and you can download it here:
• Billable Hours by Jake MacMullin. Billable Hours has a pretty interface -- a large clock. I haven't tried this app myself, but from the reviews on iTunes it appears to have some shortcomings. For example, it exports time in a raw format of time started and time ended, instead of a decimal format like .4 hours. One reviewer also says that the app crashed and lost his data. Billable Hours costs $2.99 and you can download it here:
• Timewerks by Sorth LLC. You can either use a timer to track your time or just enter the time directly. In addition to tracking time, this app can prepare an invoice. Do any attorneys want to have their iPhone handle invoices instead of billing software running on a desktop computer? I'm not sure about that. Nevertheless, this app has a clean interface and is worth a look. Timewerks costs $4.99 and you can download it here:
• TDF Time by Technical Data Freeway, Inc. The app can be used to track not only time but also expenses or mileage. You can enter time either using the timer or manually. It has a nice interface, but is a little more expensive than many of the other apps listed here. TDF Time costs $9.99 and you can download it here:
• Jobs by Bjango. Choose a client and a project and start/stop to enter time, plus you can go back and edit time entries. The app lets you run multiple timers at once, but of course that feature is most likely useless for attorneys who ethically cannot bill two clients at the same time. (See ABA Formal Opinion 93-379.) From the sample screens, there seems to be more emphasis on the dollar value of your time as opposed to simply the number of billable hours. It gets decent reviews [UPDATE on 3/11/09: Here is a review from Macworld], and apparently the developer listen to users and adds improvements. Jobs normally costs $4.99 but is currently on sale for $1.99 and you can download it here:
• LionClock by Smart Software Development. There are two versions of this app, and the main thing that sets them apart from the other apps is price. LionClock Lite costs $29.99 and manages up to 50 matters at a time. LionClock Plus costs $59.99 and manages an unlimited number of matters. (That seems like a lot more money to add a feature that wouldn't seem to cost the developer much more time and effort.) It has many of the features of the above apps, including even the ability to prepare and send out invoices. The comments on iTunes are useless on this one -- a bunch of people who obviously have never used the app are just making fun of the high price (back in the days when Apple let you comment on an app that you haven't purchased) -- and I haven't used it myself so I cannot comment on whether the app is worth $30. My guess, however, is that if you are not looking to prepare invoices on your iPhone, then spending $30 (or $60) on this app is overkill for just tracking your time. LionClock Lite costs $29.99 and you can download it here:
• ClockedIn by kyoobed, inc. I like the graphical view of what you did in a day. Otherwise, has features similar to the others. ClockedIn costs $2.99 and you can download it here:
• Time Tracker by SDK Innovation Ltd. This app has a nice, simple interface. To add an items you choose a customer, project, task and comment and you can either enter the time manually or start/stop a timer. The full version costs $4.99 but there is also a Lite version for $0.99. The description in iTunes does not explain what is missing in the Lite version (and also refers to it as being free; they must have raised the price). Time Tracker costs $4.99 and you can download it here:
• Time Tracker by Jens Eickmeyer. Same name, different app. This one is very simple. It looks like it tracks the time you spent on a project, but doesn't keep track of client names, task descriptions, etc. But if you want something really simple, this might be what you need and the price is right. Time Tracker costs $0.99 and you can download it here:
• Time Keeper by iHarwood.com. This app seems to have a lot of the basic functions of the other apps, but the interface doesn't seem very attractive to me. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so perhaps you will like it. Time Keeper costs $5.99 and you can download it here:
• Bill4Time Mobile by Broadway Billing Systems. Unlike all of the other apps listed here, this is *NOT* a stand-alone app. It is just an iPhone client for the online billing service called Bill4Time. Bill4Time is free and you can download it here:
• 24hTrack by Roland Fieger. It might be premature to mention this app because it does not appear to be finished yet. The one review on iTunes notes that some of the buttons on this German/English app are still in German. The owners manual on the website is only a single sentence followed by "Chapters...." Perhaps this will turn into something useful in the future, but from the sample screens, it appears that the focus now is more on tracking profits and losses and less on tracking your time. 24hTrack costs $5.99 and you can download it here:
Those are the apps. Let me know which one you pick and what you think of it!