Review Update: 7/14/11, Version 1.1
Free Time just received its first update which addresses the two problems I’ve already mentioned, as well as adding a few extras. Work and sleep times can be adjusted to accommodate “third shifters,” different calendars can be manually included (or excluded) from the schedule, the filter options have been expanded and it’s now possible to add events to the calendar directly from within the app. Now there’s virtually no excuse for anyone looking to manage their time to miss out on this.
Developer: Ben Johnson
Price: Free
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½
Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Time always seems to be the one thing we never have enough of when we really need it. Time travel isn’t an option – at least, not until Apple finds a way to roll it into an iOS update – so time management is the best we can do for now. Busy folks the world over are familiar with schedules, secretaries and appointment books, but Free Time aims to do away with all those complexities. By simply entering a schedule into the Calendar of an iOS device, and fiddling with a few options, users can get a well-presented breakdown of their unclaimed hours and minutes rather than having to dig through the task list for a given day and start doing math.

With the exception of a few options and time overlaps, Free Time is a pretty slick app. It integrates with the iOS Calendar automatically, so a user’s schedule only has to be entered once. Once that’s set up, various settings such as regular meal and bed times can be fiddled with until every minute of every day is accounted for. Then it’s a simple matter of taking a look at a given day and seeing which blocks of time don’t have anything occupying them. It’s a handy way of figuring out when’s a good time to meet someone for lunch or spend some time with an old friend who’s in town, but when the other party also has an iOS device with Free Time it gets even easier. Simply “fist bump” (*shudder*) with the two devices and Free Time will automatically determine when you’re both available.

The only scuff marks on the high-gloss finish here are some rather limited options that don’t take into account the fact that some people don’t work a regular 9 to 5 job. As one such individual, I noticed that the time blocking algorithm (or whatever it’s real name is) seemed to get confused when work began one day and ended the next. Such as when working from 4pm to just after midnight. By the same token, the option sliders for choosing wake up and sleep times don’t go past certain values. For example, bed time can’t be set to anything after 12am. It’s an unfortunate oversight that the developer is aware of and plans to adjust with an update, but as of right now it’s still somewhat of an issue.

Only slightly hampered by its current short-sightedness, Free Time is still a very intuitive and useful app. Even without a friend with their own copy, figuring out when to meet up is a simple matter of using the built-in filter to search by days, times and more. For free, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for anyone with a busy schedule. There is a Premium upgrade option, but it’s only a dollar and the only real difference is that there are no ads and no limits on availability notifications or “bumping.” So I suppose it’s a no-brainer either way, really.


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