Apps iOS Reviews

App Showdown: Bill Reminders

app showdown bill reminders
It’s tax season, that time of year when so many of us make the financial equivalent of a New Year’s resolution. You promise to spend your money wisely, keep every receipt, live within your budget, and save some money for a change. But this time you mean it. This time you’re going to make that resolution stick.

Your first step? Paying your bills on time to avoid those pesky late fees. And your iOS devices are going to help you do just that.

Bills on Your Table HD ($4.99)
Bills on Your Table ($3.99)

Powerybase Inc.’s Bills on Your Table and Bills on Your Table HD are gorgeous apps that seeks to make managing your regular expenses as pleasurable as it can be. Both apps were designed with the name in mind, as the background is a fine grain wood like a kitchen table. The interface is simple with eye-pleasing icons for each category of bill.
bills app
A Clean Layout and Easy Navigation

Your first step is to create an account. This allows you to keep your data synced among devices. Bills on Your Table comes in iPad and iPhone flavors and data entered on one syncs automatically with the other. It’s a bit costly to have both apps, but cloud syncing makes it a snap to keep everything up to date and to never miss an important due date. Log in to their website to access the same data through a browser.

add a bill
Adding Bills is a Snap
Tap on one of the categorical icons and a screen appears for entering data. On the iPad this is a pop-over; the iPhone uses a row of screen buttons across the bottom for navigation.
calendars and controls
A Tidy Structure
Rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, entertainment subscriptions, everything can be configured even bills that auto-deduct from your account. Enter the name, the amount, the due date, and more. The Statistics button gives you a quick glimpse of your data for a customizable range, and you can passcode lock it to keep your finances to yourself.
syncing
You Could Manually Sync If You Wanted, But Let the App Do the Work
Tap the Calendar button in the lower left corner and you can get a glimpse of upcoming bills and ones you’ve paid already. Plus, unlike many reminder apps we’ve seen, Bills on Your Table has push notifications and notification badges and repeating bills can be configured with repeating reminders. You can even set the best time and sound for your notifications (we like the coins falling on a table at 10am).This gives it a heads up over many apps, prodding us to make good on our debts.

 

Bills for iPad ($3.99)
Bills for iPhone ($0.99)

There’s a lot going on on the screen when you open iBearSoft.com’s Bills for iPad. With less screen space, their iPhone version makes due by showing you a calendar of upcoming bills with buttons to access the rest of the functions. If you have a bill due today, it shows up below the monthly view much the way Calendar looks. All of what’s crammed into the iPad screen is accessible on the iPhone and it feels a bit tidier tucked away.
lots of stuff going on
It’s a Handy Schema, But There’s a Lot Going On
Reminiscent of a classroom, Bills presents your calendar as an overhead screen with colored circles indicating due dates, your actual bills on a presentation stand, one set of controls as books on a shelf, and the other as file cabinet drawers. It’s a neat conceit, and each element is discretely its own thing but, again, rather crowded on the screen.
iphone opening screen
This Reminds Us of the iPhone Calendar App
Tap the plus sign near your bills and this crowding continues with two overlay panes appearing to add your newest bill. The category field has a set of icons that are somewhat less than intuitive (one white house is “Mortgage,” the other is “Taxes;” money with a clock is “Loan,” while more money by itself is “Other”). Tap one of those icons and you get sub-icons. Sure, you can change the icon, but the additional choices are likely to be as mystifying. Why is “Natural Gas” a radiator, while “Miscellaneous” is a ring of blue gas flames?
customizable
You Can Change Your Icons and Will Want To

Like Bills on Your Table you can passcode lock the app to keep your finances away from prying eyes, and you can sync with the iPhone version. Only Bills for your iPad makes it a bit harder. If you have both apps, you’ll need to turn on Bluetooth on both and sync between them. Then you’re given the option of merging the data from both sources or using one to supersede the other. It’s not as seamless as Bills on Your Table’s cloud syncing and requires more work on your part.

more work
This is an Extra Step
However, the biggest weakness with the Bills for your iPhone/iPad line up comes with the lack of push notifications. While it’s nice to have our finances synced and all in one place, what if we forget to check? If you have to remember to do open an app to get a reminder, then what’s the point? 

Balance Due:

With cloud-syncing taking one step off our hands, plus a more elegant look and intuitive icon set, Bills on Your Table is the solution to beat. Then you tack on the killer feature of push notifications and there’s really no question about it. Sure, any calendar app can remind you to pay your bills, but crowded date books could see some relief with bills tucked away in a separate channel.