by James A. Martin

New ‘Reporter’ iOS App Colors Your Quantified Self

Feb 28, 20143 mins
iPhoneMobile Apps

A new iOS app from noted Facebook designer Nicholas Felton lets you track your daily activities against a neon-color background. It's fun and can be illuminating, according to blogger James A. Martin, but it may not find its way into your stable of everyday apps. Here's why.

Are you into the “quantified self” movement? Does your life lack color? If so, I’ve got an app for you: Reporter.

Reporter ($4, currently only for iOS) was co-developed by graphic designer Nicholas Felton. He’s a former member of Facebook’s product design team and a quantified-self enthusiast. Felton told The Verge he spent 79 hours gathering data about himself in 2012 and made a book on his findings. Reporter is based on a custom app he created to track his life throughout the day.


(Image: ReporterApp Inc.)

Reporter queries you at intervals throughout your day and after a night’s rest. Default questions include “Where are you?,” “Who are you with?,” “What did you learn today?,” and “How many coffees did you drink?” You can turn off any or all of the default questions and come up with your own. The app lets you schedule questions to pop up when you wake in the morning or during the day. Reporter provides insights into how you answer questions over time, too.

Now about the colors. Reporter gives you five background colors from which to choose, but all except for gray are loud: bright yellow, bright orange, hot pink and turquoise. I can see teenagers loving it, but I’m not sure it will appeal to the more serious-minded. A simple white background would be a nice option.

To get the full use of Reporter, you’ll need to give it access to photos, contacts and your iOS device’s microphone. Providing access to contacts makes it easier to respond to the question, “Who are you with?” The developers say your data “stays in the app and only leaves if you save it to Dropbox or export it to a CSV or JSON file.”

On a privacy note, app logging is on by default, which sends “anonymous usage statistics to the developers.” To disable it, go into the app’s Settings, click “About,” and move the App Logging slider bar to “off.” 

I’m enjoying Reporter. It’s fun, highly customizable, and the app can give you an idea of how you spend your time. But to be honest, I doubt I’ll continue using it. I’m already using Fitbit to monitor my steps and sleep, a heart-rate monitor when I exercise, RunKeeper to log my runs, Toggl to track my working hours and MyFitnessPal to count calories. That’s about as quantified as I want to be right now.