Self-Tracking Apps for Android

I’ve been using Zealogs.com to do a lot of self-tracking (seriously — I track several dozen different daily variables from weight to blood pressure, etc), but recently decided for a number of reasons it would be better to do my tracking locally on my Android.

So, off I went to the Marketplace and after installing and uninstalling a number of apps settled on two to handle my tracking needs.

First I added Sleep Bot Tracker Log which, as the name suggests, only tracks one thing — how much sleep I’m getting every night. It is a really well-done app, especially considering its free. Press a widget when you go to sleep, and then again when you wake up, and it tracks and graphs how much sleep you’re getting. Noting when I go to sleep and wake up has always been something I thought was a pain, and this makes it trivially easy (plus I hate having to do the math on how much time I slept if I went to bed at 10:17 p.m. and woke up at 6:03 a.m.)

Second, for everything else, I settled on Zagalaga’s KeepTrack. KeepTrack lets me do almost everything I was doing on Zealogs. It lets me create what it calls a “Watch” which is anything I want to keep track of, and then gives me the option of tracking it as a number, a yes/no flag, or as a text field. It can then chart the values I enter over time and export as a text file or XML.

The only thing I wish KeepTrack had was the ability to add text notes to numerical and yes/no types. For example, if I enter 22,000 as the value in my Steps tracker, I’d like to be able to note what I did that day that resulted in me walking so far above my normal average.

Otherwise, KeepTrack does exactly what I wanted and, like Sleep Bot, is free.

Simplenote

I first gave Simplenote a whirl after reading Adam Pash’s fanboy-esque paen to the service at Lifehacker, The Holy Grail of Ubiquitous Plain-Text Capture. Simplenote does pretty much just one thing, but it does in incredibly well — it lets you create and manage text files and sync those across multiple platforms. As Pash wrote,

What works best for me may not be what works best for you. A lot of people prefer applications like Evernote, which lets you capture nearly any form of text or media you want and is accessible via the web, desktop applications, and smartphone apps. Personally, Evernote’s a bit too large (and sometimes too bloated) for my taste. All I’ve ever wanted is the ability to create plain text files on my computer, sync those files to my phone and other computers (without any extra effort on my part), and the ability to edit or create new files from any of those buckets. That’s what I describe below.

And Simplenote does the above almost flawlessly. There are clients for it for Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, Linux and maybe even the BeOS for all I know. I typically create a number of set text files from templates each morning on my Windows laptop and then update that throughout the day from whatever device I have closest, usually my Nexus one. The various clients sync with the Simplenote online service, and the result is, as Pash emphasizes, text capture becomes ubiquitous and easy.

Which is not to say the client software is all made equal. One thing I wish the clients would add would be a basic “insert timestamp” option. I use a text expander software fto handle that with Windows-based ResophNotes client, but I’m not aware of how to accomplish automatically inserting a timestamp in any of the Android clients.

On the other hand the Android client I use, AndroNoter, has a convenient “Email” button which lets me email the content of a textfile to whatever email address I want. That works for me because I use Simplenote mostly for files that I’m still editing and then forward the finished file to one of my Gmail accounts for archiving.

Simplenote is free, but for $8.99/year there is a premium version that, among other things, eliminates all adds, provides automatic backups, and lets you forward emails to Simplenote to create text files that way if you’d prefer.

Simplenote has become one of those tools I use so frequently it has just become a background process in everything I do throughout the day.