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Leaving Toggl

I love to measure things, especially how much time I’m spending on certain activities. How much time did that sub-task take at work? How much time do I spend in the car? How long does it take me to prepare a new group fitness program release?

My go-to tool since September 20, 2014 has been Toggl. I found them based on Google searches for “best time trackers.” The web app and Android app experiences were exactly what I needed. I’ve been using the free version, as I don’t need any of the paid features. Their customer support has been excellent despite not having sent them any money, and I even got some Toggl swag a while back by providing a demo of how their Android app was eating up most of my CPU (thus draining the battery).

As of late, I’ve been really fighting their Android app. I’m spending more time back-filling information that is incomplete, and their recent website updates leave me frustrated as well. In short, whenever I think about Toggl, it’s more often negative.

Android app

  • As of this post (December 18, 2016), the version available on Google Play is v8.1.5, and was released on April 26, 2016. This means, there have been no updates for about 8 months.
  • I mentioned in August 2016 to their support team that the app crashes when making new entries, and sometimes when just loading the app from a cold start. I’ve worked with Toggl support to clear everything and start over; nothing has worked.
  • They had me load a beta version (v8.1.6). I understand it’s a beta version, but it crashes about 25% of the time I create a new entry, and the project list is missing most of the projects. I usually spend about 5 seconds waiting for it to sync to ensure it didn’t crash.
  • Because of the crippled project list, I have to go back and fix things later in the day (using the web app) so that timer entries are associated with the correct projects.
  • I e-mailed the support team in November 7, 2016 and inquired about the next update. “I can’t promise a specific date but we are working on updates for the mobile app. We’re hopeful of an update for the iOS app this month, but I’m not definite on Android.”
  • The majority of the time, the mobile timer is not synced with server, so I have to manually sync before I start new timers.
  • There have been numerous times where I’ve deleted a bogus entry (e.g., I accidentally started a new timer based on a previous entry), then start a new one with the correct name only to have the sync operation remove the newly started timer.

Web app

  • The new design has been rolled out (since late November). It looks nice, and the reporting features are excellent.
  • There’s poor feedback when stopping a timer. You click the red stop button, and have to wait about 4 seconds to see the state change.
  • Entries with the same title are grouped, which makes it difficult to find start/end times when I have to manually fix something because of UX issues, or problems with the mobile app I mentioned earlier.
  • When creating timers, there’s a mode error:
    • If I’m using the name of a previous entry, I start typing and see an auto-complete list, then press Enter. The timer then starts.
    • If I’m making a new entry, then press Enter, the timer does not start.
  • Tags don’t persist across time entries with the same name (even though projects persist).
  • The popup context dialogs (tags, projects) don’t close when I think they should meaning I have to figure out where to click to make them get out of the way.
  • I’ve started typing a name for an entry only to have that replaced by a previous entry with a started timer, meaning I have to go back and re-type the auto-completed name and project.

Wrapping up

Given that I write software for a living, I appreciate how much work it takes to make something work across platforms. It’s probably because of my background that I wanted to give Toggl the benefit of the doubt while they ironed out the wrinkles. However, I’m going to try some other services to see if I can find something comparable; my “goodwill reservoir” (from Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think) is empty.

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