Mobile habit trackers are a niche no less crowded than task managers. What they have in common is another feature: the widespread adoption of the subscription model. It's not hard to find a good habit tracker, but it's much harder to keep yourself from being burdened by yet another subscription.
The Streaks app in this situation is analogous to a problem book Things. It is a concise but advanced solution for which no monthly rent is asked. All you have to do is pay $5 for a one-time fee.
Streaks is a long-time resident of the App Store, but with regular updates. The latest version, Streak 5, came out after the release of iOS 13 and supports all the innovations of the operating system: from the dark theme to the interaction with Shortcuts. But before discussing the functionality in detail, it is worth paying attention to the basic mechanics.
How it all works
The main rate of the development studio Crunchy Bagel - intuitive and simple design. At the first start, the user is greeted by a small manual. It explains how to add a task and what parameters can be set for it. The front screen of the application is a grid of added habits with visual hints about the execution.
Because Streaks is an app about habits, its approach to organization is quite different from, say, a typical task manager. There are six types of tasks:
- Routine tasks - are updated daily (or on specified days) as Incomplete. You have to complete them and then click on the icon. This is suitable for simple habits: walking the dog or keeping a diary.
- Inverse tasks - They should not be done. For example, set a goal not to eat fast food or drink soda. If the goal remains unmet by the end of the day, it's a victory.
- Fitness - Sports goals, automatically pulled from the Health app. You can set goals for steps or calories burned.
- Nutrition - the same story, with automatic synchronization from Health. But this time the main object is calories or the volume of water drunk.
- Tasks with a timer - are tasks whose timing is more important than the fact of completion. They close when the timer expires. For example: read for 10 minutes or practice playing the guitar for 30 minutes. There can be several timers in a day.
- Tasks with a reverse timer - are tasks that are supposed to limit the time for certain activities. They remain successfully completed until the time is exhausted. For example, playing no more than 30 minutes a day.
It looks confusing only on paper. In real use, it is enough to clearly and correctly formulate the task by asking yourself a few questions:
- What do I want to achieve?
- At what intervals?
If the answers are there, the app adapts to the situation. But remember that Streaks is an app about simplicity. You can't add more than 12 habits here. They are divided between two screens: light and dark. The idea is to put things you want to get into, and things you want to fight against, on the light and dark screens. But you can configure the tasks at your discretion.
I like this limitation, but others may find it too rigid. Because of it, Streaks is definitely not the right "operating system" for life, where you can put all the little things. Rather, it is an extremely useful utility that makes self-organization a lot easier and requires less memorization.
How it all works
Streaks only appears to be a basic application on the surface. There's a lot to delve into.
Once you've set a goal, it's just beginning. For example, you plan to read twice a day for 10 minutes Monday through Friday. Then you need to start doing it. You can start a "habit" in several ways. The most obvious is from within the app by tapping the icon.
Streaks has a handy widget: you can put all the tasks there. Another option is to add tasks to Siri as "commands" in the settings. Then you can simply tell the voice assistant what you plan to do.
The integration with Shortcuts deserves special attention. With the release of Streaks 5, this side of the application has been greatly improved.
First, you can create a command to execute "habits" from Shortcuts. This is best shown in the image.
Second, the "Task complete" action can be built into any command at all. This opens up a huge potential for scripting. The simplest example: you can control your fascination with social networks by creating an anti-hobby with the number of app launches. Literally, "Don't run Facebook more than 5 times.
Then in Shortcuts, in the personal automation section, you can create a sequence whereby Facebook launches are marked in Streaks - and there you have an error-free tracker.
What else you should know
Streaks is a deeply visual app. It has several colored themes and automatic switching between dark and light themes. You can also change the color of the icon.
Another important point: cross-platform. The app has an iPad version with iCloud synchronization and a companion program for the Apple Watch. The latter is one of the best in demonstrating why smart watches are needed at all. You can do all types of tasks with the Watch, run timers, or give Siri commands. The program is well optimized and runs stably even on the Apple Watch Series 1.
Also, Streaks gives you extensive statistics - a long press on a task will tell you what your progress has been over the selected period. The program motivates you to keep as long a "victory chain" of days with successful habits as possible. But if necessary, progress can be paused (water or all habits). It is also possible to share your successes in a specially generated card - but it is created in English.
Streaks will cost $5 - and it's a great investment for those who really struggle to keep track of themselves. You just need to remember that any application still requires self-monitoring and attention. Despite the automation and quality support of Shortcuts, the program will still need to be remembered on a daily basis.
If this format of working with habits doesn't suit you - I recommend watching Thomas Frank's YouTube review, where he chose 8 other trackers.
And if the Streaks approach appeals to you, you should pay attention to another app of the developers: Streaks Workoutwith an emphasis on fitness.