App Review: aTimeLogger 2 for iOS

aTimeLogger2 logoAs a freelancer, time tracking is essential to the work I do. I’m always looking for ways to improve that tracking, so I’ve been trying out different apps lately to help with the task. One of this apps is called aTimeLogger 2. There are some previous versions of aTimeLogger for other platforms. But aTimeLogger 2 is only currently available for iOS and I’ve used it exclusively on my iPad Mini. The app sells for $2.99 in the App Store but I was able to pick it up for free during a special promotional period.

aTimeLogger 2 is pretty straight forward when adding a task. The app opens with a screen that allows you to select from different task categories. aTimeLogger 2 is designed to keep track of EVERYTHING you might do in the course of a day; working, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. I’m only interested in using the app for work projects, so I selected the Work option from the menu below.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This automatically added a new task at the top of the screen with a new timer that had already started rolling.

aTimeLogger2 screen

 

Tapping the task takes me to a screen that allows me to add some details to the task. The “Type” section was already set to Work, as I selected that on the previous screen. If I wanted to change it to something else, I could do that here. The “My plan” feature has something to do with combining different tasks into a plan. This feature seemed confusing and since I really didn’t need it, I didn’t try to figure it out. I did however use the “Comment” field as a way to give my tasks unique names that made them easier to identify.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This screen also keeps track of any time I’ve added to the task so far and it also has a delete button for removing the task completely from the app.

Tapping the Save button in the upper right-hand corner took me back to the main aTimeLogger 2 screen. I added an additional task just to show that the app allows you to keep track of multiple projects at the same time.

aTimeLogger2 screen

Note: While you can keep track of multiple tasks as shown above, aTimeLogger 2 can only one run timer at a time. I think this is by design, since the app breaks everything down into task categories and the assumption is you probably won’t be doing more than one task at a time.

From here, you can pause tasks and restart them again as needed. This is crucial for the type of work I do, as projects are not always done in a single block of time or on a single day. This is really all I used the app for, and for the most part, it did this well. However, I did notice sometimes that the timer would jump ahead in time when adding details to the Comment fields of tasks. It was easy enough to fix this when it was caught right away. But it was confusing at first, as I noticed some tasks had already logged more minutes (sometimes even hours) than I could’ve possibly used since adding the task to aTimeLogger 2. Once I figured out it was doing this, I just had to tap on the timer and reset it with the “Now” button. Fortunately, this problem only seemed to appear when initially setting up a task. This problem never arose when adding more time to an existing task.

At the end of a tracking period, aTimeLogger 2 will allow you to export all of your tracking data to a CSV or HTML file. Again, all I wanted the app to do was track my time in the Work category. But because it’s designed to track all of your time, there’s no way to remove that pesky “Other” category from the export results.

aTimeLogger2 screen

aTimeLogger 2 has settings and feature beyond what I used it for. For example, you can connect it to Twitter if you’d like the app to tweet when you’ve started/completed a task. You can also change the theme of the app if you’d like it to look different from the default layout (which was perfectly fine for me).

I used aTimeLogger 2 for one month’s worth of task tracking. And while the app is OK, I have trouble recommending it, mainly due to the timer issue I mentioned above. But, if you don’t mind a little babysitting when you first add tasks to the app, or if you’re super interested in timing EVERYTHING you do in the course of a day, aTimeLogger 2 might work well for you.

BASE Sends Photos to Pictures

British Inventors ProjectGNC’s Gadget Show Live coverage kicks off with two concept product ideas entered into the British Inventors’ Project. First up is Kristina Parkes’s BASE which “enables new forms of connection between distanced people, creating a tangible channel of communication through a system utilising flexible displays and remote app-based transmission.”

BASE Shelf

In plain English, you send photos from your smartphone using an app to Polaroid-style flexible displays in a friend’s or relative’s home. It’s a neat idea that builds on the impact of Instagram to keep family and friends together, and the display shelf concept shows BASE as attractive and functional. The video below demonstrates the concept well.

 

Todoist Celebrates Version 10 of its iOS App with iPhone and Apple Watch Giveaway

Todoist LogoOver the last year or so, it became pretty obvious to me that I needed to step up my game in terms of personal productivity. Like a lot of people, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and figured I’d try and implement that methodology to the best of my abilities. I looked for apps that would help me in this pursuit and I tried out a few different ones. The app I found that I like the best is Todoist, a to-do list and task management system that runs on most platforms.

This week, Todoist announced it would be releasing version 10 of its iOS app:

Since late last year, our team of developers and designers have been busy studying the intricacies of just how our community adds and manages tasks on-the-go. Armed with these insights, they got to work crafting several powerful new features, each designed to make staying productive an effortless experience. We believe that this is the most intuitive task manager for iOS– one that will continue to help people like you achieve truly amazing things.

Here’s a rundown of some of the features found in the latest version of Todoist:

Intelligent input: Type important task information like due dates, labels, and priorities directly into the task field on your iOS device. The intelligent in-line adding will recognize, highlight and immediately sort out and properly categorize all the details for you.

Quick add: There are two new ways to quickly add tasks to your Todoist projects. Add tasks to any list by simply clicking the red circle in any task view or project. Any items you add with this quick add option will instantly appear at the bottom of your list/project. You can also use your index finger and thumb to pull two tasks apart– this action lets you quickly add one or multiple items right then and there.

Start and end dates: Todoist will be able to handle extreme due dates, no matter how eccentric they get. For example, you could create a task to “run two miles with Carrie every thursday at 6am starting April 2nd and ending October 12th.” The scheduling possibilities are endless.

Expandable/collapsable list views: This feature makes it easier to manage and visualize complex projects. Now, you’ll be able to indent and reorder tasks and sub-projects by simply using the “long press” tap action and moving the task to its correct place. Hide less imperative tasks to get a full overview of your project by collapsing sub-tasks and sub-projects.

Multi-task editing: Increase efficiency by editing two or more to-dos at the same time. Need to change all the dates in your marathon project? No problem– just select all the items that need to be modified and tap on the calendar icon to select a new date.

This new version of Todoist also offers a variety of themes so you can customize the app’s appearance to fit your own personal style. Also, Todoist is running a giveaway contest in connection with the release of this app update. Lucky winners will receive either an iPhone 6 or an Apple Watch. You need to be a Todoist in order to win. Follow the link at the top of this article for more information on how to enter the contest.

On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case

PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Babolat Play Connected Racket Raises The Game

Babolat PlayBabolat‘s pedigree in tennis is hard to beat, going right the way back to the 19th Century, when the company helped create the first racket strings. Today, it’s pushing forwards into the 21st Century with a new connected racket based on their AeroPro Drive to help both tennis professionals and keen amateurs improve their game. Don chats with Jean-Marc Zimmermann, Babolat CIO.

The Babolat Play racket looks like an ordinary racket on the outside but with sensors integrated into the handle, players now have access to a wealth of information – power level, impact position on the racket head, type and number of strokes (forehand, backhand, serve, overhead smash), top spin or back spin, all provided through a smartphone app for both Apple and Android. Incredibly, there are no sensors outside of the handle, so the racket can be treated like any other racket when it comes to match preparation and re-stringing. The racket can be taken on court for six hours between charges, which is plenty for a couple of matches, and holds over 150 hours of performance information.

The Babolat Play racket will be on sale in mid-January for $349. Two further models will be on sale; one lighter for junior players ($299) and one with a larger head (if I understand correctly), also at $349.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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ShotTracker Basketball Performance at CES

ShotTracker Logo

Sports such as running and cycling have been well supplied for several years with monitoring and tracking devices to record and improve performance. At this year’s CES, several other sports have become connected, including tennis with the Babolat Play racket and here basketball with the ShotTracker. Jamie and Todd chat to Davyeon Ross, Co-Founder of ShotTracker.

ShotTracker is made of 3 components: a wrist sensor, a net sensor and the ShotTracker App. The wrist sensor and net sensor work together to track shots: when a player shoots, the wrist sensor sends a signal that a shot was attempted and the net sensor sends a signal indicating if the ball made it into the basket. Both signals are sent to the mobile device via Bluetooth where the ShotTracker app keeps track of the player’s shooting stats. The wrist sensor fits into sweat band or sleeve to go on the player and the net sensor clips onto the net.

The app shows statistics (shots, makes and misses), gives workouts and helps identify on-court weaknesses. Data from multiple ShotTrackers can be aggregated into a coaching version of the ShotTracker app, giving a team view. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

The ShotTracker starter kit is on sale now for $149 from the store.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly andTodd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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StickyPassword Password Manager at CES

StickyPasswordOne of the plagues of modern life is the need to remember umpteen passwords and it’s getting worse as hackers get more sophisticated and passwords need to get longer and more complex. The ex-AVG team at StickyPassword have put together a comprehensive cross-platform password management solution. Todd sits down with Thomas to learn more.

StickyPassword Premium is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Amazon devices, and can synchronise between multiple devices either via direct wifi or through the Amazon cloud. Security appears to covered with AES256 encryption and the data file is encrypted before transmission minimising the risk of interception during a sync. Where available, i.e. the iPhone, fingerprints can be used to secure the app and data: for everyone else it’s a single master password.

If you want to try it out, there’s a free version that has everything except the sync. For that it’s $19.99 a year.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Brinno Time-Lapse Cameras at CES

Brinno LogoAmongst other things, Brinno specialise in time-lapse cameras, recording life one frame at a time. Their products have proved very popular with the construction industry who often want to record the rise of a new building. The Gadget Professor, Don Blaine, chats with long time friend Chris Adams, Brinno President.

In a TPN world premiere, Brinno show off the TLC120, an update of the TLC200 Pro into a smaller package. The addition of wifi and a complementary app lets the user see what the camera sees on their smartphone. The TLC120 will go into a production in about a month.

To bring an extra dimension to time-lapse movies, Brinno are bringing out a rotating camera platform that can be controlled by wifi from an app too. The direction and rate of turn can be adjust by the owner and when combined with a relative rapid frame capture rate, creates great panoramic shots.

There are some cool time-lapse videos on Brinno’s site, from flowers blooming to an aircraft landing and moving a bridge, and there’s more on YouTube.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Smart Hearing Aids from Siemens at CES

Siemens Hearing Test IconAs people get older, one of the more common complaints is of hearing loss. Many of those getting older now have grown up with technology and expect more than brown lumps of plastic which simply won’t do in an Apple-designed world. Today’s hearing aids are small, discreet and smart. Todd hears about the latest products from Thomas Powers of Siemens Hearing Instruments.

Siemens’ latest assistive hearing device is the Binex, which uses signal processing to help people in traditionally difficult listening environments, especially those where there’s a high level of background noise, such as restaurants or trade shows. The aid intelligently reacts to the noise, filtering out the unwanted sound while keeping nearby voices clear.

Worn around the neck, the easyTek streams audio from a Bluetooth-connected device directly into the hearing aid so it’s great for listening to music from a smartphone or tablet. The easyTek can be controlled by the easyTek app for Android and iOS smartphones to discreetly adjust programmes and volume, listen at a preferred level without disturbing others or direct the microphone towards the next person at a restaurant.

Available now, the smart hearing aids cost around $1500-$2000 which includes assessment and fitting.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Perfect Bake with Connected Scales at CES

Perfect BakeAlthough the Internet of Things is very much of the moment, sometimes all you need is a connected device. In this case, the device being connected is a set of kitchen scales. Todd and Todd start cooking with Darin Barri and Perfect Bake Scale and App.

Targetted at cooks and bakers, Perfect Bake combines digital scales with a tablet app to make sure that the weight (or more correctly mass) is just right. Connected via the audio jack, scales can weigh in real-time, showing the quantity on the tablet screen. The app has hundreds of recipes and can walk the baker through the steps with mixing times and instructional videos. The scales come with colour-coded preparation bowls to help too and the app can adjust quantities to suit appetite.

There’s an even an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is right, so whatever’s baked, it’s baked perfectly every single time.

The app available for both Android and Apple devices, the Perfect Bake Scale and App is available now for $69.99 from Brookstone. A Bluetooth wireless version will be available later in 2015.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Todd Aune of The Elder Divide for the TechPodcast Network.

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