Mint app finally gets tablet update | [Nothing But Tablets]

Mint app finally gets tablet update

Written by Bryan Faulkner on 24 February 2012 at 14:27

One of the great things about the internet has been the way its changed how we handle our money. There really isn’t a need to balance a checkbook anymore when you can have instant access to your accounts online. Want to know your current savings account balance? Check your banks website. Want to know the APR of you credit card? Check the credit card companies website. Wondering if your friend sent you that money through PayPal? Use the mobile app and find out. You get my point. There is almost nothing you can’t do with your money online, with the actual exception of getting some of the cold hard variety. For that you still need to visit an ATM or I guess you can get it at a merchant that will give you cash back. Either way you can’t get cash directly from the internet.

With so many different money related accounts that I can access online, I went looking for a way to track them all in one place. I didn’t know if this was possible because it would require really good security and the trust from all the individual banks to allow a third party into their system. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a couple different websites that did exactly what I was looking for and the best part was they were free. Hit the break to find out why I chose Mint.com.

After some research I decided to give Mint.com a try. I checked out it’s security and found it had as good as, if not better, encryption standards than most banks. It also had a long list of approved banking institutions that had given Mint access to their website. As I looked deeper I realized it wasn’t just banks with your savings and checking accounts and credit card companies that Mint could interface with, but a whole host of money related accounts from mortgages and car loans to investment accounts. I figured if all these banks gave Mint access to their system, it must be safe. I decided to give Mint a try.

After signing up you have to go through the initial process of adding all your accounts in which is usually just a matter of finding your bank and adding in your sign in information. They made it as simple as possible, and once you have your information entered it usually pulls all of your information needed without a hitch. If it’s your bank it will grab any savings accounts, checking accounts, loans or other accounts you have, so you don’t have to do each type of account separately. Once you have all your accounts entered you can pretty much sit back and let Mint do all the work for you.

Mint will track your spending based on categories, either predefined ones, or custom ones you create. It’s smart software so it learns that if you enter that a certain type of transaction is always a car payment, it will do it automatically for you. The only time it can’t do this is for checks you have written, and that’s because it doesn’t know where it was written to, just that it was withdrawn from your account. You can setup any number of budget categories you want, and see up to date info on how much you have spent in each category. It will give you some pretty neat looking pie or bar graphs so you can visually see where your money is going. It’s a really great tool to track all of your finances rather painlessly.

Now you might be saying that all that is great, but why are you writing about this on a tablet site? Well I’m about to get to that. I have been using Mint for a while, and of course I have the mobile apps for my phone and tablet. It gives me instant access to all my accounts wherever I am. However the tablet app was severely lacking in the function department. They didn’t have a separate app for tablets, so I was stuck with the phone version, which we all know never translates well to larger screens. You were stuck using it in portrait mode, and it just wasn’t very pretty. All that changed with the last update.

There is now a dedicated tablet app, and I was very surprised opening it up after the update. I usually don’t check the change logs for most of my apps when they get updated, so I don’t know what’s different until I open it up. The first thing I noticed was that it didn’t immediately jump to portrait mode. And then I saw the beautiful graphs and new layout. I noticed they did a very nice job laying everything out on the main page. You can see the home page in the screen shots below, obviously with all my personal information removed.

There was immediate access to any information I might want. It has my top spending categories listed with how much I have spent, a pie chart showing the breakdown of all my expenses, my current cash to debt ratio, and my total net worth. It also shows me how far into the month I am, and how much of my budget is left. With a quick swipe of the pie chart it brings up a graph showing my spending over the last 6 months so I can see if anything is out of whack. I can tap on any part to get more detailed information and quickly access my account list. Tapping on the spending categories takes you to more pretty pie charts that breaks down each category even farther. Basically just about anything you want to know about your expenses at any given time is right there at your fingertips. Kudos to Mint for making an app that is designed, and designed well, for tablets.

[Mint]

via Mint app finally gets tablet update | [Nothing But Tablets].

Mobile Sites vs. Apps: The Coming Strategy Shift

Mobile Sites vs. Apps: The Coming Strategy Shift

Summary:
Mobile apps currently have better usability than mobile sites, but forthcoming changes will eventually make a mobile site the superior strategy.

The most important question in a company’s mobile strategy is whether to do anything specialfor mobile in the first place. Some companies will never get substantial mobile use and should stick to making their desktop sites less insufferable on small screens.

But if your site happens to have decent appeal to mobile users, then the second strategy question is: Should you produce a mobile website or develop special mobile apps? The answer to this question today is quite different from what it will likely be in the future.

Current Mobile Strategy: Apps Best

As of this writing, there’s no contest: ship mobile apps if you can afford it. Our usability studies with mobile devices clearly show that users perform better with apps than with mobile sites. (Mobile sites have higher measured usability than desktop sites when used on a phone, but mobile apps score even higher.)

The empirical data is really all you need to know. It’s a fact that apps beat mobile sites in testing. To plan a mobile strategy, you don’t need to know why the winner is best, but I’ll try to explain it anyway.

Mobile applications are more usable than mobile-optimized websites because only limited optimization is possible during website design. An app can target the specific limitations and abilities of each individual device much better than a website can while running inside a browser.

Native application superiority holds for any platform, including desktop computers. However, desktop computers are so powerful that web-based applications suffice for many tasks.

In contrast, mobile devices provide an impoverished user experience: tiny screens, slow connectivity, higher interaction cost (especially when typing, but also due to users’ inability to double-click or hover), and less precision in pointing due to the fat-finger problem. The weaker the device, the more important it is to optimize for its characteristics.

Apps can also provide a superior business case for content providers because the various app stores offer a pseudo-micropayment ability that lets you collect money from users, which is harder to achieve over the public Internet.

Finally, let’s consider the differences between Nielsen’s Law for Internet bandwidth and Moore’s Law for computer power. Over the next decade, Internet bandwidth will likely become 57 times faster, while computers will become 100 times more powerful. (Future computers will be monsters compared to the puny hardware we’re using now.)

In other words, the relative advantage of running native code instead of downloading stuff over the Internet will be twice as big in 10 years. One more point in favor of mobile apps.

Future Mobile Strategy: Sites Best

In the future, the cost-benefit tradeoff for apps vs. mobile sites will change.

Although I just said that computers will become 100 times more powerful, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPhone 14 will be 100 times faster than the iPhone 4S. It’s more likely that hardware advances will be split between speed and other mobile priorities, especially battery lifetime. So, a future phone might be only 10 times faster (but will be thinner, lighter, and able to run much longer between charges), whereas download times will be cut by a factor 57.

The expense of mobile apps will increase because there will be more platforms to develop for. At a minimum, you’ll have to support Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Furthermore, many of these platforms will likely fork into multiple subplatforms that require different apps for a decent user experience.

For user experience purposes, iOS has already forked into iPad vs. iPhone. Although they officially have the same OS software, the two devices need two very different user interface (UI) designs. (See our free report on iPad usability for tablet usability considerations.)

Amazon.com’s recent introduction of the Kindle Fire effectively forked the Android user experience with a fairly different platform. And, as our Kindle Fire usability study concluded, you need a separate app with a separate UI to deliver decent usability on this nonstandard device that’s selling like hotcakes.

It’s only realistic to expect even further UI diversity in the future. This will make it extremely expensive to ship mobile apps.

In contrast, mobile sites will retain some cross-platform capabilities, so you won’t need as many different designs. High-end sites will need 3 mobile designs to target phones, mid-sized tablets (like Kindle Fire), and big tablets. Using ideas like responsive design will let you adapt each of these site versions to a range of screen sizes and capabilities. The same basic UI design will work for both a 6.8-inch tablet and a 7.5-inch tablet if you simply shrink or stretch things a bit. (A 5-inch phone would require a different design, with fewer features andabbreviated content.)

Most important, new web technologies such as HTML 5 will substantially improve mobile site capabilities. We’re already seeing mobile sites from publishers such as the Financial Times andPlayboy with UIs that are very similar to applications offered by equivalent newspapers and magazines.

Today, FT and Playboy use sites instead of apps for business reasons, not UI reasons. Publishers are tired of having a huge share of subscription revenues confiscated by app store owners, and Playboy wants to publish more titillating content than Apple’s prudish censors allow.

Freedom from censorship and freedom to keep your own money are good reasons to stay with the free Internet instead of the walled garden of proprietary app stores. In the future, better UIs and more adaptive implementations will be additional reasons to go with mobile apps.

A last benefit of a mobile-site strategy is better integration with the full web. It’s much easier for others to link to a site than to integrate with a 3rd-party application. In the long run, theInternet will defeat smaller, closed environments.

(Apps may remain better for tasks that are intensely feature-rich applications, such as photo editing — whereas mobile sites will be better for design problems like e-commerce/m-commerce, corporate websites, news, medical info, social networking, etc. that are rich in content but don’t require intense data manipulation.)

When Will the Strategy Shift Happen?

Now for the $64,000 question — or, more accurately for most companies, the million-dollar question: When will the recommended strategy change? In other words, when will the changeover in favor of mobile sites be strong enough for you to abandon mobile apps?

Sadly, I don’t know. Usability insights can tell us what’s best for users under various circumstances, but they can’t predict how fast these circumstances will change in the real world. In my experience, things change much more slowly than one might expect.

For example, in September 2000, I said that mobile usability required a device with a deck-of-cards form factor that would “get rid of the keys and spend every available square millimeter on pixels.” A few months later, I predicted that European vendors’ infatuation with non-web mobile phones would lead to the demise of that continent’s lead in mobile technology.

Both predictions came true, but not until 7 years later when the iPhone was finally launched as (a) a device with almost the entire surface used for data, and (b) a product from a computer company rather than a phone company.

Even worse, in 2001, I thought that “Mobile Devices Will Soon Be Useful.” Sure, if by “soon” you mean 6 years 😦

Good mobile design was so close I could taste it. I knew what was needed, and I didn’t think it was so hard to do. But, as the famous saying goes, don’t confuse a clear view with a short distance. As I admitted in my retrospective on my first 10 years writing the Alertbox, when I was wrong about the timing it “was often because I was too enthusiastic about a new technology’s potential. When I was right, it was often because I was conservative.”

To conclude: I do believe mobile sites will win over mobile apps in the long term. But when that will happen is less certain. Today, if you are serious about creating the best possible mobile user experience, my advice is to develop apps.

Learn More

293-page report on Usability of Mobile Websites and Applications with 210 design guidelines and 479 screenshots is available for download.

Best 7 HTML5 Frameworks for Mobile Apps

Best 7 HTML5 Frameworks for Mobile Apps

Titanium

Titanium is sometimes confused for an HTML5 framework. It is a java script-based interface with native code modules that are included in the framework. It translates web skills into native apps that act as if they were written in Objective-C (iPad and iPhone) or Java (Android). Titanium contains a thriving developer community and over three-hundred APIs. This is the help you need when building apps that are more convenient, interactive, extensible and social.

M-Project

This application is a HTML5 JavaScript framework for creating (writing) cross-platform mobile applications.

Hosted in a git repository: https://github.com/mwaylabs/The-M-Project

Checkout the new version of The-M-Project and replace it with the version that is included in Espresso

Contains all Core and UI files in building jQuery Mobile-based mobile applications

If you are feeling lucky, feel free to check out the development branch: detox

Sencha Touch

Sencha Touch is one of the first HTML5 mobile web application frameworks. Sencha Touch lets you develop mobile web applications that look and feels native on Android and iPhone devices. If you are creating an application filled with visual interactions, Sencha Touch is the best choice. It contains a powerful,experienced support team and is thoroughly documented.

jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is Touch-Optimized Web Framework for Tablets and Smartphones. It has an unified user interface system and is widely popular with mobile platforms. It is built on jQuery and jQuery UI foundation. It’s open, lightweight code was created with advanced enhancement. It also contains a tameable design.

JQuery mobile framework allows you to write less while achieving more. Instead of having to write various applications for OS or mobile devices, the jQuery mobile framework lets you create a single, high-branded and fully, customized website application. The app works on all common tablet and smartphone platforms.

jQtouch

The jQuery plugin for mobile web development on the iPod Touch, iPhone and other devices proves useful and tremendously innovative. This framework proves heavy on the CSS and light on the JavaScript.

NimbleKit

NimbleKit is one of the faster ways to develop applications for iOS. You do not need to be familiar with iOS SDK or the Objective-C. The only thing you need to know is how to write an HTML page with JavaScript code. NimbleKit easily installs in Xcode without any complicated configurations. It also provides a new “NimbleKit Project Template”. Simply select the template, choose if you want to build for iPad, iPhone, iPod or some other common software. Add your JavaScript, Images and HTML to the project. Click “Build and Run” and your app immediately launches in the iPad/iPhone simulator.

Wink

Wink is a mobile JavaScript framework that develops mobile web application on iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

via Best 7 HTML5 Frameworks for Mobile Apps.

Mint.com introduces Android tablet app to help consumers manage their money – Banking – Mobile Commerce Daily

Mint.com introduces Android tablet app to help consumers manage their money

By Lauren Johnson

February 2, 2012

The Mint.com Android tablet app

Intuit Inc.’s Mint.com has rolled out an Android tablet application after seeing a greater need from consumers to manage their money on mobile devices.

The tablet app is optimized to fit Android devices that run on the Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich operating systems and helps users track their finances with graphs and charts. The app is available for free download from Google’s Android Market.

“We wanted to create a tablet app to fit every lifestyle to provide the flexibility to stay in control of day-to-day finances and live financially confident,” said Ken Sun, product manager for mobile at Intuit Personal Finance Group, Mountain View, CA.

“Tablet apps offer a landscape aspect and more real estate, which creates more opportunity for exploration and immersive experiences,” he said.

Personal finance Web site Mint.com helps eight million users manage their finances.

Mobile money

The Mint.com app has been designed specifically for the Android tablet and is optimized for nine and ten inch screen Android tablets.

To use the app, consumers need to create an account at https://www.mint.com/ or via the app. Users then enter their banking information.

The Mint.com app syncs a user’s information across the company’s Web site, smartphone and tablet apps.

After a user enters their information, the app breaks down financial information into categories including cash, credit cards, loans and investments.

Users can also set up budgets by categories and manually enter transactions into the app.

“The initial design and key learnings for the Android tablet came from developing the iPad app,” Mr. Sun said.

“When we decided to create the Android tablet app, our engineers were able to make changes and tweak the design to accommodate the unique functionality and features of the Android tablet,” he said.

Cross-platform product

Mint.com’s Android tablet app is proof that managing money has become a cross-platform activity.

Similar to online banking, consumers trust their mobile devices to help them manage their money.

Additionally, tablets are being used more by financial companies because of the size and image quality of the devices.

Developing for Android tablets is a growing trend as more devices become available on the market, and with devices including the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook, it will be an area to watch in 2012.

In addition to Mint.com’s Android tablet app, the company also has apps for Android smartphones, iPhone and iPad devices.

“Mobile is big for Mint.com and is something the company will be focusing on for a long time to come,” Mr. Sun said.

“Providing busy people with specific money management features, reliable advice, tips and educational resources, we are able to make sure everyone has the tools to be financially literate to use their money for living,” he said.

Final Take

Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

via Mint.com introduces Android tablet app to help consumers manage their money – Banking – Mobile Commerce Daily.

The Making of Tablet Product Life Cycle | Online Marketing Trends

 

The Making of Tablet Product Life Cycle

Since the iPad launch of 2010, people have fallen into 3 categories

1.      Those who buy tablets because they want or need them

2.      Those who don’t buy tablets because they don’t want or need them

3.      Those who don’t buy tablets because of one or more barriers preventing them from doing so

It’s this third group that is the target of every tablet maker. Tearing down the barriers is their key to success. For some, it’s price. Now Google, Apple, and everyone else is looking at the success of the Kindle Fire and looking for a way to duplicate the model.

There has been a question about functionality and power, but the latest generation of tablets are often more powerful than laptops from just a few years ago and more are going to be powered by quad-core processors in 2012.

via The Making of Tablet Product Life Cycle | Online Marketing Trends.

By etaillefer Posted in Tablet