See where all your time is going with Chronos

Chronos is a new free app for iOS that aims to helps its users to see how they are spending their time and, by extension, use it more effectively. It’s available now from the App Store.

Chronos requires a Facebook account to use. Once signed in, the user is invited to set some initial goals for their “target day,” dividing their time between sleep, home, work, social, exercise, errands and being in transit. These goals are set with some slightly fiddly sliders and may only be set to a 10-hour maximum per day. There is also apparently no means of setting custom categories, though time the user spends doing activities that do not fit into the set categories is automatically logged in an “unknown” group. It’s also worth noting that there is no reliable means of tracking working from home, though this is apparently something the developers are working on.

Chronos’ time logging is performed automatically using the user’s location. By setting various custom locations within the app and assigning them to a particular category, Chronos is supposed to “learn” the user’s habits and be able to automatically track the amount of time that has been spent doing each category of activity — for example, if the user’s location is recorded as being at the gym, time will be added to the “work out” category. Connecting with friends who are also using the app allows the user to see how much time they have spent with specific people.

It’s a sound principle at its core, and the fact that it is location-based rather than reliant on users remembering to “check in” and log their time accurately helps prevent people cheating the system and being dishonest to themselves. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to work at all. The app’s location database is supposed to use Foursquare, but when tested there was no sign of any accessible Foursquare data, necessitating manual adding of locations. And when manually adding a location, there is no means of searching by place name, postcode or zip code, instead requiring users to enter the specific address of a location. This often leads to misplaced locations — for example, while tested, attempting to add a local supermarket whose location is simply “Bath Road” added it three miles down Bath Road (which is rather long) rather than in its actual position — and there was then no means to change it after it had been added.

The automatic location tracking just doesn’t seem to work, either. Adding my home address to the app was simple enough, but the app did not recognize when I was present there, even when standing outside with my location marker on the exact spot it dropped the pin on the map. Similarly, the app did not recognize my presence at the aforementioned supermarket (categorized as an “errands” location) when I was there, making the time tracking completely ineffective.

The silly thing is that there is no failsafe in place for when the location tracking does not work correctly. There is no means of manually inputting time into various categories, and no means of manually “checking in” to a location using Foursquare or Chronos’ built-in list of custom locations. This makes the app utterly useless in some locations, particularly those with poor mobile or GPS coverage.

Chronos has good intentions and a solid idea as its basis — and it’s possible the app works exactly as intended in certain situations. Unfortunately in the context in which it was tested, it simply did not work at all, making it impossible to recommend at this time.

Chronos is currently ranked at No. 381 in the Free Lifestyle Apps genre. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.