Time APIs review: The 7 best time APIs to use in 2020

Last Updated Nov 21, 2020
Emma Jagger

Engineer, maker, Google alumna, CMU grad

Did you know that there is probably a time API for just about any time-related function you could think of?

However, there are some APIs that stand out from the bunch. Instead of looking at a specific aspect of time API, or narrowing our subject into only one or two API areas of focus, we’re going to look at API that are particularly well built and effective. 

So, if you’re looking for a time API that works with the app or website you’re designing, read on! In addition to talking about some of the best time API out there, we will also be discussing the features that make a time API great. So, even if the ones we review aren’t quite what you’re looking for, you’ll know better what to look for in time API in general. 

Let’s dive in!

What is a Time API?

With a broad topic like this, it's important to take a moment to see what can be considered a time API, so you know whether this is the kind of API you need. 

At their core time API should report some aspect of time, be it time spent on a particular task, or using your geolocation to provide precise time calculations for certain events. They’re similar to geolocation API, though not usually used the same way. 

Since almost everything you do interacts with time in some way, that core definition can translate to dozens or hundreds of different uses. If you can think of something time-related, chances are there is at least one API that has been designed to help you manage it. 

But there are definitely some kinds of time API that are more common than others. Here are some examples of what you can expect from a time API:

  • Time tracking
  • Reporting employee time use
  • Sunrise or sunset times
  • Tracking tide times based on location
  • Prayer time calculations for some faiths
  • Providing a basic clock
  • Stopwatch, timers, and other countdown functions

That’s honestly only a small sample of the kinds of functions that time APIs provide, but it can help give you a sense of how broad this category can really be. 

Some people also consider calendar API a kind of time API, but they are a broad enough category on their own that we’ve excluded them from this guide. Calendars are a fantastic time management tool but come in enough different variations and designs that they deserve their own consideration. 

How to Use a Time API?

Time APIs, like any API, need an API key before you can access them. Keys are sections of code that are inserted into the API coding itself. 

That key is usually received after you sign up with the API provider, unless the API is free, or you're using an API trial service to test it. The key not only gives you access to the API itself but also tells the system what features you have access to. 

Fortunately, they are usually fairly simple to use and don't take a lot of time to get your API up and working well. 

If you do run into trouble, though, the process for fixing the problem is generally a little different for every API. The best time API, like all good API, will also come with documentation to help you do some troubleshooting for yourself. 

Of course, if you can’t fix it on your own, many API developers also offer a support line, though it might only be available to certain subscription tiers, depending on the API. 

Once you have the key and have the API working, you can also usually make tweaks to the API function, things like how often it makes an API call, directly in the code. Working with API doesn’t normally require too much coding expertise, but you will need to know at least a little of a common coding language to use them effectively. 

The Best Time API

We'll go into a detailed review of each of these API in a moment, but if you want to look at these API before our review, or are looking for a shortlist of good examples, this is where you want to be. 

  1. Clockify
  2. Time Station
  3. Timezone DB
  4. World Tides
  5. Prayer Times API
  6. Sunrise – Sunset 
  7. SunMoonCalc

Now on to our in-depth reviews. 

1. Clockify

Clockify time tracking API

Clockify is a free time management app that’s designed for employers looking to have a tracking tool for themselves and their employees. 

The design is highly scalable, with unlimited users allowed through the API. The API is a little more limited in that, while it does allow you to use Clockify’s features in other applications, the information is pulled from the Clockify app. So essentially, it allows you to plug in certain features from another application into your own, instead of simply being a base tool. 

That said, Clockify is good for both macro and micro analysis of time use. On the macro scale, you can evaluate how much of your team’s time is being spent on meetings, and how much is being spent directly working on project tasks. 

On a micro level, the tools also allow you to track how individual employees use their time, which can offer insights into how different employees approach their work, and what kinds of tasks and workplace environments are most effective for them. 

Combined with an Avatar creation API, you’ll have a good time tracking interface that’s a little more personable, and easy to use. 

But, as a time tracker, the Clockify API also provides insight into time management strategies you can use to improve your profitability as a team, and on a larger scale, as an organization. 

With all those tools, it’s surprising that Clockify has committed to remaining free, but they have. That makes them accessible for smaller companies as well as enterprise-level organizations that are considering adding time tracking to their internal tools. 

Since you can customize which features are accessed through the API, you can also narrow your application down to only the most important features.

Pros:

  • Unlimited users
  • Tracks individual time usage
  • Tracks usage by team
  • Provides time management strategies to address negative trends
  • Committed to remaining free

Cons:

  • API accesses information from the App doesn't provide tools for implementation without the Clockify app.

https://clockify.me/


2. Time Station

Time station time tracking API

Another time management tool for employers, Time Station is designed to provide an easy way for employees to clock in and clock out, digitally. The API allows you to implement the tool in other applications, but, like Clockify, relies on you accessing the app rather than implementing individual tools like a more traditional API. 

That said, this powerful tool also gives you access to attendance trackers and other management tools that can make it much easier to get a bird’s eye view of your workforce. 

Functions like adding to deleting an employee account from the system are relatively well streamlined and simple to use. You also have the power to directly edit a shift schedule or to check on the attendance for a shift, a team, or an individual employee. 

This API gives you access to powerful tools for businesses that might have a more flexible schedule or a distributed workforce. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good time API for more traditional workplaces as well. 

Any job that needs a tool to track hours, attendance, and schedule compliance can benefit from using this API. They also offer a 30-day free trial so you can test the tool before subscribing, and a free version suitable for startups with 10 employees or fewer. 

You may want to consider adding an email verification API in addition, to further protect your company as you’re making employee changes within this system. 

Pros:

  • Great for keeping an eye on your distributed workforce
  • Provides several different ways to access information, including individual, shift, and team searches
  • Option to change and edit shift schedules so your records are always accurate
  • Easy to access and add or remove employees, schedules, and other features.

Cons:

  • Free version only allows up to 10 employees and 2 administrators
  • Only supports up to 2,000 employees

https://www.mytimestation.com/HowItWorks.asp


3. Timezone DB

TimezoneDB API with time and time zone data

This API is a really down to earth basic time API. Instead of offering high-level time management or tracking tools, this API is designed to give your app or website access to different time zones, based on specific geolocation IDs. 

This API has two versions, a free version that is suitable for light to moderate use, especially if you’re mostly designing your app for your own use. However, if you want to take your app to a commercial market, or are a particularly heavy user and need to make many requests in a day, they also offer a premium plan that provides additional data resources and support. 

The base subscription to the premium plan is only $5 a month, and annual plans are discounted to only $50 a year. 

The free version of this API is structured so that you can make unlimited requests, but only one request can be answered every 60 seconds. Additional requests don’t queue up, so if you make more than one request a minute, the additional requests are lost. 

The system uses JSON or structured XML responses and is a RESTful API. That design makes this a highly accessible API for most developers, especially if you have any prior experience using API. They also provide reasonable documentation to go with the API, which is helpful if you ever find yourself troubleshooting the system after adding it to your app.

Despite this API being relatively straightforward, we appreciate the simplicity of its design. This is an API that doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, but what it does, it does exceedingly well. 

Pros:

  • Straightforward API design
  • Provides basic time data globally
  • Automatically adjusts for Daylight Savings Time and other time changes
  • Easy to use
  • Free for non-commercial users

Cons:

  • No additional tiers for added support for high-volume users
  • Not very feature-rich, very basic functionality

https://www.mytimestation.com/HowItWorks.asp


4. WorldTides

WorldTides API

World Tides is an API that was designed for sailors, surfers, and other ocean enthusiasts in mind. This time app is designed to give you tidal timing information for waters across the globe, based on precise geolocation data. 

If you’re looking for another API that’s more specific to IP geolocation data, take a look at this option as well. 

While this API by itself might not be able to provide the backbone of an app or website, combine it with a high-quality weather API and a few other features, and you have the making of an ocean tracking application that could be used for any number of different hobbies and professions. 

This API is a little different in that it doesn’t have set subscription tiers, instead, their pricing is based on use, and a credit system where individual calls for information (provided in 7-day blocks) cost a single credit, and more detailed versions of that information cost another. 

Registration with this API is free, and registering provides 100 credits to try the service. There is no set free-period and no limit to when you can use those first 100 credits. 

However, after that, you have the choice of pre-paying for a certain number of credits or paying for a monthly allotment of credits. Both systems have their advantages, so be sure to carefully evaluate which payment option is best for your project goals. 

Pros:

  • Provides incredibly detailed tidal information
  • The database covers the globe
  • Provides 7 days of tidal timing at once
  • Can get as specific as 30-minute intervals for the most accurate tidal timing
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • No set free period, if you run out of trial credits in a day, you run out in a day
  • Must accurately predict usage rates to make the most of this API

https://www.worldtides.info/developer


5. Prayer Times API

PrayerTimes API for prayer times, adhan player & islamic calendar

This is another free time API, designed for Muslims who don’t live in a predominantly Muslim city. Originally created as an app to sound the call to prayer within the developer’s home, there is now also an API to help other developers incorporate the call to prayer into their apps. 

If you’re trying to create an app designed specifically for Muslims, especially faith-based apps that focus on Islam. 

This API is free to use and relatively simple to implement. Its function is also relatively simple, using geolocation to provide an area appropriate call to prayer, five times a day. 

They also provide options to use altered schedules during important Islamic holidays, as well as a few other customization options. 

As another kind of time API, this system is easy to include in almost any relevant application and can provide an invaluable service to its target audience. Combined with a holiday tracking API, along with some additional features and services, and you’ll be able to create a powerful app for Muslim users, and anyone interested in Islam. 

Unfortunately, the documentation and support that comes with this API is a little more limited. That’s understandable considering it was built by a small-time developer, but it does mean that you might need slightly more coding expertise if you run into trouble with implementation. 

Pros:

  • Provides location accurate time of prayer
  • Relatively easy to implement
  • Customization options available


Cons:

  • Small developer, little support available
  • Very specific to the target audience

https://aladhan.com/


6. Sunrise – Sunset

Sunrise and sunset API data provider

A slightly more generalized option, Sunrise – Sunset is an API that tracks exactly what you’d expect, the sunrise and sunset times of any given location. 

This API is a powerful tool to use in combination with a weather API, or even the World Tides, the tide tracking API we discussed above. 

But those are far from the only applications. Hunters, Land surveyors, environmentalists, and star lovers are all interested in the exact timing of sunrise and sunset. And that’s only a small subset of the people who might benefit from this kind of API. If you’re developing an app for any of these groups, this API is a good option. 

This API is free to use, though they do require attribution if you incorporate the API into your app or program, and also have some usage limits that you should read before implementing the API. However, despite those limitations, the fact that this API is provided for free makes it more appealing for small developers. 

Sunrise – Sunset is a REST API, and they provide a reasonable amount of documentation to help you get the API working within your program. That said, they ask that it not be used in any application that could cause an unusually high number of requests to come through, burdening the system, without providing information on their API call capacity.

Pros:

  • Free to use with attribution
  • Provides highly accurate and location-specific sunrise and sunset times
  • Easy to implement
  • Reasonable amounts of implementation documentation
  • Works globally

Cons:

  • Not designed for use by large apps 
  • API call capacity not disclosed, no options to subscribe for added volume support

https://sunrise-sunset.org/api


7.  SunMoonCalc

Another sun timing API, this API goes to the next level to also calculate the rise and set of the moon. In addition to providing basic use timing, they also provide information about the phase of the moon, and other important events that astronomers and enthusiasts will find not only interesting but also useful. 

The API is relatively simple to implement, with a wide range of different features that you can choose to use, or not, depending on the needs of your app. 

This app also calculated solar and lunar positions, and tracks less common time notations, like Nautical Dawn. If you need to track a particular point in the Day/Night cycle, based on the sun or the moon, chances are this API will have a tool to do it. 

The basic plan is free, up to the first 1,000 calls in a month, with a $.06 charge for each additional call per month. The Ultra, designed for professional developers whose apps attract a lot of traction, and therefore higher API call volume, is $30 a month, with incredibly small charges per call if you go over the 100,000/month quota. 

Pros:

  • Very accurate data and information
  • Covers both solar and lunar cycles
  • Easy to implement and customize which tools and trackers are included
  • Accessible for small developers, affordable for larger
  • Available for global time calculations

Cons:

  • Always have an API call limit per month (soft limit, with additional charges for overages)
  • Accounts with an API call overage may be temporarily suspended.


What To Look For in a Time API

There are so many different kinds of time API, as this guide has hopefully illustrated, that there are relatively few qualities that will be shared by all of the best of them. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any though. 

Look for API that offer global time coverage. Not only is this a useful feature for many users, but global time coverage can also be one way of ensuring that the data provided is accurate. 

You should also look for either highly specific features and functionality, like the Prayer Times and Time Station API we discussed earlier, or very broad features like SunMoonCalc. 

The last thing you should consider is the price. While all of the API we’ve listed are relatively affordable or free, there are many good time API that are priced for large developers, not small ones, but that pricing doesn’t always indicate that the API is a higher quality or more useful that the more affordable alternatives. 

Conclusion

Time APIs are an incredibly flexible and powerful tool, but there are so many variations of them that it’s very important you make sure you’re getting an API that addresses the specific requirements of the app you’re creating. 

They're useful for any developer that needs to incorporate a time-based feature into their new application and equally useful for employers that want to create a more customized and industry-specific interface. 

Of course, we’ve only covered a very small fraction of the time API out there, and even only a small fraction of the best time API. Even if this list didn’t include the features or functions, you’re looking for, that doesn’t mean that one isn’t out there. With time API, specific search terms are key to finding the best options.