The 9 best habit tracker apps to create a new routine in 2023, tested by us

Forming new routines can be tricky, but the best habit tracker apps will make reaching your 2023 goals a breeze

Woman with long hair standing in a park with trees behind her, looking at the best habit tracker apps on a smartphone and smiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best habit tracker apps may just be the key to transforming your routines in 2023. Whether you are hoping to begin new healthy practices, or want to remove negative tendencies from your life, habit tracking can help you stick to resolutions into the New Year and beyond.

There are several different approaches you can take to habit tracking, but having a simple and accessible app on your phone is one of the easiest ways to hold yourself accountable throughout the day. I have been trying to commit to regular exercise, taking on one of the top fitness trends 2023, eating healthy, and taking more time for hobbies to no avail, so I enlisted a range of apps to help me on this journey. From the best meditation apps to digital checklists, I wanted to discover which habit tracker apps would really help those like me in search of a lifestyle change.

"The best way to build a habit is to commit to it. Make a plan to do this new thing at the same time each day, week, or month, tell others that you have a new plan that you’d like their support with, write it down, track it in an app, put it in your calendar," advises life coach Kate Waterfall Hill (opens in new tab). "Building a positive habit of exercise, or blocking out 30 minutes each day to meditate, do admin, plan your day, or get started on a big project, is a great way of making steps to achieve your goals." With this in mind, I added each of my new habits to my apps and got stuck in. 

Best habit tracker apps 2023

app logo and in-app screenshot of productive habit tracker app

(Image credit: Productive/Apple)

1. Productive

Best overall habit tracker app

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: Unlimited access from $7.89 / £6.49 a month

Reasons to buy

+
Aesthetic design
+
Personalized approach
+
Includes an 'Explore' section with tips and tricks

Reasons to avoid

-
None!

Unlike most of the other apps I tried, Productive starts by asking you a series of questions about your lifestyle to determine how best to help you form new habits. The app then suggests a series of activities you may want to incorporate into your lifestyle and what time of day it might be best to do them, which I found very useful. I also loved the separation between morning, afternoon, and evening habits, which made a full day of activities feel less daunting.

Productive also features an Explore section, with information on topics such as weight loss mistakes and meditation tips. This is a bonus that takes it beyond an app and into a supportive tool that you will want to keep using, much like the best fitness apps. On top of this, I loved the design of the app and found it very simple to operate and track each habit. This is definitely an app that I will continue to use, and one that I really think will work long-term.

app icon and in-app pages from habit tracker iphone app

(Image credit: Habit Tracker/Apple)

2. Habit Tracker

Best for everyone habit tracker app

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: From $4.29 / £3.49 a year for premium access

Reasons to buy

+
Simple, intuitive design
+
Allows you to sync habits with friends
+
Built-in stopwatch feature to aid time management

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available on the Apple app store

Habit Tracker is an app with simplicity at its core, designed to make habit tracking easy and accessible. It works by allowing you to add the various things you want to keep on top of into the app, presenting you with a satisfying bar graph-esque list that changes color as you tick off each habit. You can also set it to send you reminder notifications throughout the day for various tasks, a feature that I found extremely useful when first establishing new habits. 

I loved that Habit tracker syncs to the health app on your phone, as this means that it automatically tracks things like your steps and workouts to help you hit goals such as walking for 30 minutes a day. This is extremely handy for those of us who struggle to remember to input everything into an app, especially when on the go. Its design isn't groundbreaking, but it does the job and does it well. For a fuss-free, easy-to-operate app that is effective at keeping you on top of new habits, you can't go wrong.

app icon and in-app screenshot of habitica habit tracking app

(Image credit: Habitica/Apple)

3. Habitica

Best fun habit tracking app

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: From $6 / £4.99 a month for premium subscription

Reasons to buy

+
Fun and interactive
+
Unique to other habit trackers
+
Ideal for those who need an extra push

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly complicated to use

If you are someone who loves gaming or spending a lot of time on your phone, this habit tracker app is the one for you. It will allow you to improve your productivity whilst playing as an avatar, and you can earn in-app rewards for each habit you successfully tick off. I loved that Habitica not only encourages you to develop new, healthy habits but also allows you to keep track of habits that you want to quit, such as eating late at night

I found it a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, due to the gaming nature of the app. It's something that improves with use though, meaning the more habits you track and keep on top of, the better the user experience. It also uses a rewards system, which I found particularly motivating. However, for day-to-day habit tracking, I did find it to be slightly convoluted. If you have already tried countless means of staying on top of new habits but have never been successful, I definitely recommend giving Habitica a go. Its unconventional nature isn't suited to everyone, but I think it will totally transform attitudes towards habits for those who need an extra push, making it one of the best habit tracker apps for the new year. 

app icon and in-app screenshot from strides habit tracker app


(Image credit: Strides/Apple)

4. Strides

Best simple habit tracker app

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: From $33.53 / £27.49 a year

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Free progress reports
+
Templates for a wide range of habits

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available on Apple App Store

Strides works similarly to Habit Tracker, with a user-friendly design that allows you to log habits with ease. It has a more basic design than some of the other apps I tested, with minimal colors and a straightforward layout. Like Habitica, Strides allows you to keep track of bad habits to aid you in missions like quitting caffeine.

For a no-frills approach towards habit tracking, I love Strides' list-style design that essentially works as a check list. The added progress reports helped me to feel motivated to stick to my new habits, and the minimalist color scheme adds a calm atmosphere when using the app. If you are reading to retire your notes app in favor of something a little more useful, Strides offers exactly that.

app logo and in-app image of habitshare habit tracker app

(Image credit: HabitShare/Apple)

5. HabitShare

Best social habit tracker app

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: None

Reasons to buy

+
Encourages accountability 
+
Motivating
+
Intuitive design

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires interaction with friends to work best

HabitShare makes forming habits a social activity, putting a new spin on one of the best productivity apps. You can make habits with friends and see how your pals get on with completing set habits each day, creating an extra layer of accountability - as well as some healthy competition. The design is very similar to other habit tracker apps, where you compile all your habits and tick them off when they are done.

When using HabitShare, I found that it can be used solo, but it's really designed for collaborative use. If you are on an independent journey, want to keep your habit tracking private, or don't have friends on the same mission as you, you probably won't gain much from this app. However, if you have loved ones who are also trying to maintain habits, or you are someone who is after a productive alternative to social networking apps, this could be the one for you. 

fabulous habit tracker app logo and in-app screenshot page

(Image credit: Fabulous/Apple)

6. Fabulous

Best habit tracker app for major life changes

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: Premium membership from $3.66 / £3 a month

Reasons to buy

+
Holds you accountable
+
Personal element
+
Well designed

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for those who want a more laid-back approach to habit tracking

Fabulous begins by asking you a series of questions, similar to Productive, except with some slightly more personal elements. As well as enquiring about sleep and energy levels, it also assesses your finances and spending, plus personal relationships. Fabulous then suggests certain habits to add to your morning, afternoon, and evening routines to best help you, and you can design separate routines for each part of your day. Fabulous definitely has the most hands-on approach to habit tracking out of all the apps I tested. When you first join, it asks you to agree to a contract to better your life and stick to your goals - a detail that is brilliant for those who need an extra push for accountability. 

I loved the design of this app, as well as how attentive to my needs it was from the beginning through reminder messages and positive reinforcement. One of the parts I enjoyed using the most was the Fabulous Journal, where you can write down your thoughts and feelings in the digital in-app diary. Fabulous is an all-rounder app that contains everything you need to begin transforming your life, without a single detailed missed. If you want to make big changes in 2023, this is the app I recommend doing it with.

app logo and in-app screenshot of habit tracker app Dreamfora

(Image credit: Apple/Dreamfora)

7. Dreamfora

Best habit tracker app for mental and physical wellness

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: None

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Offers a range of pre-made routines
+
Focus on hobbies as well as habits

Reasons to avoid

-
Design more appealing for a younger audience

Although most people associate habits with physical wellness, it's just as important to ensure that you are making time to improve your mental health and work on hobbies. As one of the best habit tracker apps, I love that Dreamfora not only encourages habits like exercise and drinking water but also helps with learning a new language and teaching you how to combat SAD. I found it extremely useful to use the pre-made habit routines in the app, as this removed the tricky organizational element often attached to habit tracking.

Dreamfora also looks at habits in the long term, allowing you to set deadlines months in advance for ticking off a goal like losing weight. Plus, each habit you track is accompanied by tips and advice from the World Health Organization and other experts to ensure you are remaining healthy throughout your journey. If you want to gently ease yourself into habit tracking, Dreamfora provides a series of gradual steps to achieve each goal, which I found made the whole process a lot less daunting.  

app logo and in-app screenshot of DayStamp habit tracker app

(Image credit: Apple/DayStamp)

8. DayStamp

Best habit tracker app for basic goals

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: Premium access for $13.39 / £10.99

Reasons to buy

+
Minimalist and modern
+
Offers a range of suggested habits
+
Provides data on your achievements 

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains pop-up ads

If you usually use a simple list to track your habits but feel ready to switch to something slightly more sophisticated, DayStamp is the app for you. It displays your daily habits in a colorful yet minimalist list that can be easily checked off once achieved, retaining all the satisfaction of a physical list that can be crossed off as you go. I found the suggestion of habits to be helpful when starting out with this app, as it made me consider adding some new activities to my routine that I hadn't thought of before.

After using DayStamp for a while, I think it's best suited to those who have fairly simple goals, such as daily exercise or journaling, that don't require much more than a tick list and some reminders. It functions in a similar way to Habit Tracker, except I found that DayStamp favors an even more basic design that is more focused on what you are tracking rather than how you are tracking it, whereas Habit Tracker makes the process of tracking slightly more interactive. It works well as a digital tracker for things you want to tick off, rather than acting as a motivating tool in and of itself. Still, I recommend DayStamp to anyone who would benefit from a gentle nudge to ensure they stick to their habits, and I did find it beneficial in terms of picking new goals and laying them out in a simple and digestible format.

app logo and in-app screenshot of flora habit tracker app

(Image credit: Apple/Flora)

9. Flora

Best habit tracker app for time management

Specifications

Initial cost: Free
Additional extras: From $6 / £5

Reasons to buy

+
Good for motivation
+
Prevents distraction
+
Allows for habit tracking and time management

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available on Apple app store

Flora is more geared more towards being one of the best time management apps than one of the best habit tracker apps, but I found this approach particularly beneficial when trying to establish habits like reading for 30 minutes or exercising daily. The app works by setting a focus timer that grows a seed as you concentrate, and you risk killing the plant if you go back on your phone or get distracted. It encourages habit tracking by rewarding you for growing (digital) trees regularly, a feature I found particularly motivating for forming new habits.

As well as acting as a timer and tracker, Flora also allows you to focus with friends, form to-do lists, and even plant real trees across the world with an optional donation. I found Flora to be one of the best habit tracker apps in terms of keeping us focused and set on achieving each habit, as there is no option to shy away from completing it. Plus, it lets you view your stats and progress, which made us want to tick each habit off the list. For improving focus and holding yourself accountable, I recommend giving Flora a go.

Does habit tracking work? 

After testing out all of these apps, I can say that it really does - and the experts agree. "Tracking your new habit is a brilliant way to embed it into a new routine," says Waterfall Hill. "To see your progress, to build up a pattern of behavior, and to see that even if you miss a day, you can get back on track. Setting it out in a journal or using a tracking app really helps to ingrain it. This is because your visual memory helps to enforce the positive feeling you get from changing habits."

Habit tracking has a variety of benefits, from motivating you to tick each goal off to helping you learn how to organize your life. Plus, being able to view your stats and see how far you have come can help you to push yourself even further. "To see that you’ve not had a drink or that you’ve shown gratitude every day for a month, for instance, is positive reinforcement and helps to spur you on," says Waterfall Hill.

"Once a habit becomes ingrained as routine, then it becomes part of who you are and how you operate. Some say new habits take 66 repeats to become true habits. I say, just start with something and see what happens," Waterfall Hill advises. "Small, imperfect steps in the right direction are much better than staying stuck waiting for the perfect time to start a new habit." And to track how you're feeling as you start a new hobby, routine, or lifestyle change, try one of the best journaling apps.

What habits should I track?

The habits you decide to track will depend on your lifestyle and what you are hoping to achieve. However, if you are looking for a few changes to make but don't know where to start, this is what I recommend working on: 

  • Water intake - this is an easy habit to stick to and you will really feel the benefits
  • Daily workouts, such as yoga for weight loss or swimming
  • Adopting new hobbies like reading or playing an instrument
  • Staying on top of habits you want to quit, such as smoking or emotional eating
  • Forming a night routine to help you master a better way to sleep

Expert tips for forming new habits

Though habit tracker apps will aid in forming new routines for 2023, there are a handful of additional things that Waterfall Hill suggests you can do to ensure success:

  • Make the habit easy (and unavoidable): "For instance, you could put your running clothes next to your bed so you see them first thing in the morning and just step into them before you get distracted."
  • Associate the new habit with something you routinely already do: "So you have a morning cup of coffee every day? Then do 10 push-ups or clear your inbox before you let yourself have your coffee. Associating the new habit with an old one is a great reminder, and giving yourself the 'treat' of the old habit once you’ve done the new habit is a great way to make sure it gets done."
  • Do the new habit in stages: "Don’t try to be 'marathon fit' by the end of the month or be a completely different type of leader in a week. These things take time," warns the life coach. "Start gradually by introducing a new 2-minute habit once a week or month, until that’s bedded in as a routine habit, before introducing another new thing."
Amelia Yeomans
Staff writer

Amelia joined woman&home after graduating with an MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2022. She specialises in lifestyle journalism and throughout her undergraduate degree she wrote for a variety of student publications, where she developed a love for all things style, beauty and sustainable fashion. She has previously written for titles including OK! Magazine, New! Magazine and Notion before she started her career as a lifestyle journalist with woman&home after completing an internship with the brand.