When it comes to quality iPhone apps there's one constant: people also want the same app for the iPad–myself included. However, this request isn't as simple as it sounds. The iPad is a completely different beast than the iPhone, mainly due to the massive difference in screen real estate. Because of this, developers rarely take their iPhone apps and make it bigger for the iPad, which when done is quite unappealing.
Instead, good developers approach the iPad from a different perspective. First, the app's character and personality should remain intact because you want it to feel familiar. Second, and probably the most important, the app should take full advantage of that difference in screen real estate so that it offers an experience you can't get from the iPhone app. Today's Snappshot–Next–was recently released for the iPad, and in my opinion achieves these goals quite well.
Next is a finance tracking app that makes it easy and enjoyable to enter financial transactions–simply select a category from dozens of icon options, enter the amount and note (if desired), and tap the checkmark (or Done). With Next for the iPad, you're presented with hierarchy of financial data, which offers a big picture overview of where you're spending your money. This is in contrast to the iPhone version that displays all information in a series of three views. You can track a few categories or as many as 27, depending on what you deem important to track.
- The hierarchy is well conceptualized, and makes the financial data easier to comprehend when compared to the same feature in the iPhone app. You begin with years, which feeds into months and then into days (you tap the bubbles to transition to the next tier).
- Bubbles in the Years tier show a simple line graph of your financial spending. There are no totals, mind you, but you can clearly tell which months you spent more or less.
- Below the bubbles in the Years and Months tiers, you'll find icons and bars that represent the amount spent in said category. Tapping any of these bars transitions in the financial totals for better context.
- Next now includes iCloud syncing, which is greatly important if you use both the iPhone and iPad app.
- The Days tier is a prime example of using the iPad's screen real estate well. Each day is represented in its own column, making it very easy to differentiate which transactions occurred on which date.
- I find that the iPad version is better for entering transactions for previous days because each day column includes a + button that will automatically set the transaction date. I recently entered a bunch of backlogged transactions on the iPhone app and would have greatly appreciated this feature.
- As is the case with all noidentity apps, Next is quite easy on the eyes and features great animations and sound effects. Though the simplicity of Next is what initially caught my eye, its charm is what keeps me wanting to come back and use the app over and over.
- Though you can get the same level of historical information in the iPad as you can its iPhone brethren, I do prefer the line graphs in the iPhone version because of its convenience. I simply tap a category's bar and I'm shown amounts spent in the previous week, month or year. With the iPad version, I have to find the category in each pillar (i.e. months or years) in order to compare them.
- Last year, around the time that Next 2.0 was released for the iPhone, I was conversing with noidentity's Sandro Pennisi about the ability to import a file (likely a CSV file) to quickly input your history of financial spending. This is extremely beneficial because you'd instantly get an overview of your spending over the course of many months and/or years, which is the key purpose of Next. An exporting option was added in version 2.2, but an import option is unfortunately still not a reality.
- Syncing isn't as quick as I'd like it to be. Currently, it usually takes several seconds for updates to appear, but I do find the syncing to be reliable at least.
- Next can only be used in landscape mode, which isn't something you see very often in an iPad app. I trust that noidentity didn't make this decision without careful consideration, and they likely felt it was the right call to guarantee the best experience possible. With that in mind, making the app landscape only will likely lead to some experiencing frustration when they realize that have to rotate their iPad in order to use the app (the horror).
The Bottom Line
Next for the iPad is touted by noidentity in its App Store description as working "perfectly as a standalone expense tracking app or in combination with the iPhone version." After using both apps, it's my opinion that most individuals likely need only one app, and it's important to find the one that works best for you.
The best policy for me is to enter transactions immediately, thus preventing me from forgetting to add them at a later time. Because of this, the iPhone version is and likely will always be my bread and butter. In contrast, if you'd prefer sitting down once a week or so and entering transactions all at once, the iPad app may be the way to go.
I'm not saying there's no benefit in purchasing and using both apps, because I think each has their own strengths and weaknesses (true of many apps with both an iPhone and iPad version). My advice to you, if you're new to Next, is the think about the way in which you'd handle entering transactions and pick the app that best suits that style. This will likely lead to a better experience on your end, and help you achieve what the app sets out to do–provide more insight on how you spend your hard earned money.