Thoughts on the Reporter iOS app. I've been using it since the day it came out.
These are thoughts on bugs encountered, possible improvements, and my impressions of using it after a few months. Overall I think it's great.
There were a few bugs initially that they did fix, but there remain several small ways it could be improved.
Need larger tap targets. Tapping on a previously used value, or even the 'Next' button, during a report often gets no response on the first try. (Maybe it's just me?)
The app should learn what I typically select as a location name for a particular location, and use that as the default. Whenever I go from home to work, I still have to manually select my workplace as the location during the next report.
I initially had it set to prompt for a report 12 times a day, I have since dialed it down to 8. I don't always respond 100% of the time though.
Reporting did get wearying and old after a month or so, but after that it became routine.
If you have a fairly repetitive lifestyle, as I currently do, Reporter will make that extremely (perhaps painfully) clear very quickly. I work a 9-5 job and spend most evenings at home. Data collection becomes much less interesting when the data involved seldom changes.
I imagine that the "Quantified Self" perspective on this feeling is that Reporter is simply making the real situation (a repetitive lifestyle) plain and, by doing so, I'm being prompted to consciously consider whether to do something about it. Which I don't doubt.
But whether this is helpful is not so clear!
The thing is, the reasons for my currently repetitive lifestyle are complex. A more interesting job would certainly be welcome. But also: I tend to prefer a quiet evening at home as opposed to gadavanting about.
So when using Reporter feels wearying because the data is samey, it may be that the practice of Quantifying my Self is actually prompting a vague dissatisfaction with my own nature rather than prompting me to bring my environment into harmony with my nature.
Food for thought.
❡ I do soldier on though, because I am interested playing with and hopefully formalizing the data later on.
So far I haven't seen any examples of visualizations made from people's report data. But it seems likely we'll see them start to pop up more and more sometime near the end of 2014, assuming some significant portion of early adopters are still using it then.
As long as you keep your questions down to a reasonable number, using Reporter really is pretty frictionless for the amount of data you're collecting.
Effective questions: Reporter comes "What did you learn today?" as a default "ask at sleep" question. I soon ceased bothering with answers to this one. I guess it was too open-ended, and even when I have an answer it's never compact enough for the little-token format that Reporter seems to expect.
The only questions I've added to the default set are "Are you wearing glasses?" (I started using non-prescription reading glasses for most screen related work to prevent headaches) and "How many coffees did you have today?"
I've thought about adding something along the lines of "Did you do anything notable that didn't get caught in your normal reporting?" as an ask-at-sleep question.
Side note: Reporter remains hands-down the best pedometer app I've seen so far.
(Most of the iPhone 5S pedometer apps out there are surprisingly stupid. They do very little other than tell you how many steps you've taken. They fill the screen with ballooney information-poor Pravda-style "infographs" to distract you from the fact that they don't really have much to tell you. They don't update in the background so if you unless you remember to explicitly open the app every week you'll lose data about your steps. And they don't offer a way to export the data to a format you can use elsewhere.)
Possible iOS8 improvements. @esjewett raises the possibility of the app making use of interactive notifications. I'm not sure a five-question report could fit in such a notification! But it would be nice if they could make it work.