Android design has really come on in the past six months, and there are a surprising number of beautiful holo-themed finance applications. Like many people, I have considerable difficulty managing money. Thanks to Evernote and an Excel spreadsheet, I know (roughly) how much money I have to pay in rent and bills each month, but beyond that, I haven’t a clue. Seeing all these excellent holo finance applications made me think that there might be a better system than ‘pay bills, spend what’s left’, and has inspired me to be more aware of my money.
Seeing as how today is the first day of the new financial year, it seemed like the perfect time to bring you the fourth edition in our Beautiful Android series, and dedicate this edition to apps to help you manage your money.
Debt is the Buzz Killington of the finance world, but unfortunately it’s something that most of us will have to live with. Whether you’ve borrowed money from a friend for concert tickets, or owe thousands in student loans, or went to town on a new credit card, it’s a good idea to keep track of how much you owe, and to whom, so you can prioritise your repayments. There are a number of applications on the Play Store that will help you manage your debt, but in my opinion, none are as straightforward or elegant as Debt Tracker.
Debt Tracker, a free application, uses typography and a soft colour scheme to really stand out from other generic holo-themed applications. Far too often, developers settle for the standard ‘Holo’ or ‘Holo Light’ theme that comes with Android, rather than making the effort to develop their own unique look. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these applications can be fantastic, but Debt Tracker is a great example of how developers can really tailor the Android themes to suit their own brand. As a typography enthusiast, I’m a huge fan of the different typefaces of Roboto, and I feel that they are underused by developers. Thankfully, the developers here have used lighter weights and Roboto Condensed to emphasise different aspects of the UI.
In terms of features, Debt Tracker is fairly minimal – you add the various debts you have, and they are displayed on the application’s home screen. You can keep track of money you owe, money that is owed to you, as well as any savings you might be able to be making thanks to your new-found organisational skills. If you upgrade to the $0.99 paid version, you’ll also add the ability to tag your debts and backup to Dropbox.
There’s no point knowing how much debt you have if you don’t know how much money you have available. I’ve included two expense tracking applications in this list – Financius and Expense Manager. I prefer the UI of Expense Manager, which makes excellent use of typography and colours in its beautiful minimalist design, but the free version lacks the features of Financius. Financius is also quite attractive, but there’s just something about Expense Manager that appeals to me.
The free version of Expense Manager only manages expenses, but it does export your data to Dropbox, Evernote, or a file, which you can restore if necessary. To unlock the full version will cost $3.19 as an in-app purchase, and will add income management and more detailed statistics and graphs to help you better manage your money. The design of this application is so great that if Financius didn’t exist, I would strongly consider paying the money for the full version.
While Financius doesn’t compare to the sheer minimalist beauty of Expense Manager, its design is quite excellent nonetheless. It is also completely free, with many more features than Expense Manager’s free version, allowing management of both income and expenses, as well as showing a break-down of your monthly expenditure on the application’s home screen in a delightful pie chart. Clicking on the transactions summary on the home screen will take you to a detailed break-down of all payments and income throughout time, sorted by month. You can also export your financial data to CSV format, which would be useful if you want to import your data into Excel. One feature Financius has over Expense Manager is the ability to manage multiple accounts.
I’m lucky, because my current flat mates are awesome, but I have lived with people in the past that try to weasel out of paying for anything. It makes chasing them for money a lot easier if you have a detailed account of what they owe you. Enter Settle Up – the application that helps you keep track of group expenditure, where you enter payment details, such as who spent what, which is used to calculate a running tally of who owes who money. Not necessarily limited to the share house situation though, Settle Up would also be useful for friends who regularly share expenses, particularly if some of your friends may need the occasional gentle reminder that you’ve bought them dinner three weeks in a row now.
Settle Up is fairly straightforward to use – you tap the ‘+’ sign in the action bar to add a new payment, and then you input information like who paid, for whom, how much and what for, and the application will add the payment to its history. You can then swipe across to the ‘debts’ tab to see who owes who money, and then swipe across again to the summary, where Settle Up will tell you who should pay next time because they owe the most money. If you live in a share house, or regularly shout meals or drinks for your friends, who never pay you back; or are too eager to pay you back even, then I’d strongly recommend giving Settle Up a try.
Chances are good that if you’ve bought something from the internet in the past, you’ll have used Paypal at some point. It’s pretty much the largest and most trusted online payment merchant in the world, and their Android application is surprisingly good. It has all the features you’d expect, from browsing your payment history, checking your account balance and making payments, but also has a few neat little features that are smartphone-specific. If you want to deposit money into your account, you can take a photo of a cheque and have it processed, and you can make payments in supported stores. Surprisingly, the latter feature actually is available in Australia, showing a number of local businesses in the check-in screen.
In terms of design, Paypal uses a variation on the Holo Light, dark action bar theme, with Paypal’s own custom colour scheme. The application makes good use of iconography to add some pizazz, and is navigable by the tabs just below the action bar. The entire package comes together quite well to stand out from other payment applications, particularly those made by banks, which are (almost) all quite horrible.