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Appiphilia: Quicken Online puts its money on iPhone App

April 30, 2009 | 10:48 pm

Demo-Outlook
Money management apps aren't new to the iPhone. But there's a big dog checking out the yard -- and this dog isn't new to the world of personal finance: Quicken. (Intuit makes Quicken, Turbo Tax and QuickBooks.)

We took the iPhone app for a test drive.

Quicken Online Mobile (Free)

What it is: A money manager on the go.

What sizzles: If you're anything like me, you're better at spending money than keeping track of what you've got. This app's very first screen once you log in tells you what's left -- really left, as in, once bills are paid -- until your next payday.

The setup is fairly easy. On the Quicken Online site, once you have an account, you type in the name of your bank and log in, and it pulls in 90 days of your activity and assesses and categorizes the information. You can set goals on the site. Mint.com (and its iPhone app) also does sorting, categorizing and assessing.

Quicken But then, from the outlook page, like the one at right, you can turn the phone to the horizontal landscape mode to get a graph of your financial landscape -- upcoming bills show up as red dots that show the date, payee and amount when you touch them. The lavender across the bottom is the money you have left, and a purple bar should indicate your next paycheck. (My next paycheck isn't showing up in this screen grab, which I hope is not an indication of whether one is coming.) 

Under "activity," it lists all of your specific transactions and categorizes them. If you want to label transactions that are uncategorized or adjust the ones that are, you can do that manually.

One really cool feature that also uses iPhone strengths, whether 2G or 3G, is the ATM finder. Using GPS and what it knows about your banking preferences, it locates the nearest banks with green dots on the ones that won't cost you additional fees to use. (Or instead of using GPS, you can type in a ZIP code.) Directions are available from the Google map. 

Among the minor features: Auto log-in and password protection. If someone managed to get into the app, the worst they could probably do is rearrange your categories. No account numbers are included, and money can't be transacted.

What fizzles: Of course, the data reside on Quicken servers. Some folks aren't wild about giving over their personal banking details no matter how secure servers are.

In later incarnations, it'd be great to see the ability to use the iPhone camera to snap photos of relevant items, say, receipts you might need later for tax purposes, or items you buy to associate with the transaction.

Bottom line: Quicken offers a seamless, user-friendly app to track your money and to stay on track.

Although Quicken is looking toward providing applications for other smartphones, the company said it found the iPhone to be a more straightforward platform to focus on for now. Its mobile site is available to all Web-accessing mobile platforms. 


Have you tried it out? Share your thoughts on this app or other money management apps you like in the comments below.


-- Michelle Maltais

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