Get the cold, hard data about your life with these tracking apps

Counting steps is just the beginning.

Sheet of paper with graphs
Build better habits by knowing your stats. Jason Coudriet via Unsplash

If you’re a regular runner or cyclist, you might be used to tracking your journeys with your phone or wearable. But runs and rides are just the start when it comes to stuff you can log with your smartphone.

You’ll find it’s possible to build a picture of your music listening history over many years, or keep track of all the cities you’ve visited in a particular year—all you need are the right apps.

Track music with Last.fm

Screenshot of Last.fm app
You're not fooling anyone—Last.fm knows about your emo past before you discovered alternative folk music. David Nield

Your streaming music service of choice probably does a good job of tracking what you’ve listened to (and using that information to make recommendations), but Last.fm can log your listening habits across multiple services and platforms, creating a more comprehensive picture.

Last.fm is simple, and you may not even need to download the app—it’s built into Spotify, for example. As it collects your data, you will be able to see your favorite artists, albums, and songs over days, months, and years, and get some smart new music recommendations, too.

Last.fm is free on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and the web.

Track places with Google Maps

Screenshot of Google Maps app
Google Maps knows all the places you've been and, no, that's not creepy at all. David Nield

By default, Google Maps logs places you’ve been, and prompts you to rate and review them. If you want to retrace your steps by month, year, or day, you can check out the Timeline option on the web or in the app. Just go to the main menu (three lines in the upper left corner) and choose Your Timeline.

As well as letting you reminisce about journeys past, Google uses this data to recommend new places that match what you’ve previously liked. Locations are automatically logged on your phone, but if you think this is a bit creepy, you can opt to turn off tracking.

To do so, go to the settings of your Google account, then Data and Personalization > Activity and Timeline > Timeline > Manage Location History and toggle the switch off.

Google Maps is free on Android, iOS, and the web.

Track movies with Letterboxd

Screenshot of Letterboxd app
You: "That Godard movie? Yeah, I've seen it, but it was so long ago, I can't remember a thing." Letteboxd: LYING. David Nield

For the serious movie-watcher, Letterboxd lets you track films you’ve seen, keep tabs on films you want to see in the future, and share your picks with other people. The interface is tidy and intuitive, and you can dig into a wealth of information about each of your picks.

Marking films on your radar or that you’ve watched already is simple, and if you feel like it, you can leave a star rating and a review. You can also create custom lists, such as your favorite horror films, or the best Wes Anderson movies, and mark which ones you like best.

Letterboxd is free on Android, iOS, and the web ($19 per year to remove the ads).

Track habits with Streaks

Screenshot of Streaks app
Track everyday progress with Streak and celebrate those small victories. Unless you're planning to celebrate 10 sugar-free days with cake. Then, don't. Streaks

Streaks can be adapted to track just about anything you want to turn into a daily habit, whether that’s walking the dog, flossing your teeth, not having a cigarette, or reading for 10 minutes. Each day, you can go into the app and manually log whether you’ve made it or not.

Once you start building up your streaks, you won’t want to let yourself down by missing a day, and you’ll feel even more motivated to keep going. You can also use the app to encourage yourself with how much progress you’ve made—think of it as a mental boost to help your willpower.

Streaks is $5 on iOS.

Track reading with GoodReads

Screenshot of Goodreads app
Goodreads won't let you forget about all those half-read books accumulating on your bedside table. David Neild

You might not blast through books at the same speed as you blast through shows on Netflix, but you might still need a little help to keep track of what you’ve read. Goodreads can take care of that for you, letting you log, rate, and review the titles you’ve read or are in the process of reading. You can even log your page-by-page progress, so you can see how long it took you to finish each book.

The platform also lets you share your thoughts with other users, check out what your friends are reading, and get recommendations of books you might like to read in the future.

Goodreads is free on Android, iOS, and the web.

Track you hydration with WaterMinder

Screenshot of WaterMinder app
Yes, 80% of your body is water, but you still need to drink more. WaterMinder will help you get there.

Getting enough water into your body each day is important for a variety of reasons, but it’s not always easy to remember whether you’ve had enough or not. Enter WaterMinder, which can give you all the nudges you need during the day.

The app is also smart enough to tell you how much you’re going to need based on your body weight, activity levels, and even what the weather is like. Over time, you’ll also be able to see a chart of your hydration history.

WaterMinder is $5 on Android and iOS (a free-with-ads version is also available on Android).

Bring everything together with Exist

Screenshot of Exist app
Transform your habits into cold, hard data with Exist. Exist

Exist really does want to track everything in your life: it pulls together data from a host of sources (fitness apps, weather apps, your email and Twitter accounts, Spotify, and more), then presents it all in a gorgeous array of charts and reports for you.

It’ll also pick out trends and correlations for you—like the way you listen to more music on sunny days, or how you get more exercise on weekends. Report your mood each day, and Exist can analyze patterns in that too—it’s got a ton of ways for you to complement your data.

Exist is $6 per month or $57 per year on Android, iOS, and the web (30-day free trial available).