Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Account Tracker Pro – iCloud Drive beta testing

October 23, 2020 Comments off

Now that dark mode is fully supported, I am taking another look at syncing over iCloud. As many of you know, this has been problematic over the years. The issues are most definitely iCloud and not my app, as I have seen files written by my app taking hours to be copied to other devices. This is Apple’s responsibility and there is little I can do to speed things up. Another data point is my exact same code works perfectly when using Dropbox as a cloud service provider (where I control the copying).

A few years ago Apple introduced iCloud Drive. This is really a service on top of iCloud where they make files and folders more visible.  I have added an option to use iCloud Drive instead of the underlying iCloud (Documents and Data), and it looks like this is working well (and much faster too).

I am now looking for beta testers to give it a try. Ideally users who want to sync between multiple iOS devices (but not the Mac). Beta testing is fully supported by Apple using their Test Flight app.

If interested, please send me an email.

New marketing images for iTunes

June 3, 2014 Comments off

I hope you like my new marketing images for iTunes (see below for an example). These were all done by my son who is studying Digital Interactive Design at Dundee University. If anyone needs any graphic design work doing, please get in touch! 🙂


CSV import

May 14, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 Today I got my first negative review for a long time criticising something valid(*). So infrequent is this event that I felt a response was due! 🙂 Well done to Steve Ives in the UK – if you get in touch I will send you a prize!

In his review he complained about the import capability of the app, specifically that I only support CSV and that it has to be in exactly the right format. I don’t disagree with his comments. So what are the alternatives and why haven’t I “fixed” this?

The main reason is that I don’t expect people to import transactions more than once. The app is designed to be used on the go, and many users tap in transactions in between paying for things and getting their change! The entire workflow is based around quick data entry where it only takes perhaps 5-15 seconds to key in a new transaction. And assuming I am a typical user, I enter less than 1 transaction per day.

I suppose the alternative is to download a statement from your online bank once per month. But surely that defeats the purpose of the app? For a start your data is always weeks out of date, plus the app can be used to track dozens of accounts not just the one (I track nearly 50!).

I could add support for the various financial data formats – its just a matter of my time, and I haven’t regarded this as important enough to implement above other things.

CSV is fairly common, however you do need to put it in the right format. Why? Because there are probably 1000s of different bank formats worldwide and I can’t support them all. I could adaptively learn, or ask the user to identify each column. Again its a matter of my time and priority. The most difficult thing to solve though is the date format. Not just whether 2/3/2014 is the 2nd March or 3rd February, but handling 1000s of other ways to express dates, across 100s of languages.

As I say, I am not disagreeing with Steve’s comments, just trying to explain my way of thinking.

* not saying there aren’t things to criticise – there most certainly are! However most negative reviews are from people who simply don’t read the documentation or are just complaining about the iOS 7 user interface!

Week start day

March 14, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 I have received a lot of very positive feedback for my new calendar picker, however a number of people have also asked for the week start date to be configurable. My app has always used Monday as the start date for entering dates, but I can understand that some people would prefer (e.g.) Sunday.

My calendar picker was written with any day in mind, and there is even a setting in the main settings app that I could use (under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” at the bottom). However there doesn’t seem to be a way to access this setting from within an app. I even have code for this that works fine on OS X but doesn’t on iOS. I have therefore opened a bug against iOS.

If Apple come back with a workaround to this issue, I will happily support the day you choose in the settings app.

UPDATE: no response from Apple after a month. I will probably add my own setting for this in my next update.

Migrating Dropbox from full access to the Apps folder

March 6, 2014 Comments off

I have supported Dropbox in my iOS apps for many years, and they all expect files to be in (or below) the top level folder. More recently, Dropbox added support for apps only being able to access files in a per-app subdirectory of a folder called Apps. This keeps your Dropbox folder nice and tidy.

I plan to update all of my apps to support this newer mode, however it wasn’t obvious how to do the migration (there is very little documentation about how to do it!). This is more of a technical post on my findings and a solution that works for me.

1. First of all, each app is registered with Dropbox, specifically my existing apps are all registered for full access to Dropbox. To support the Apps folder too, you need to register a second version of each app, to give you a second key/secret pair.

2. You need to give each a new name. I simply added (Apps folder) on the end.

3. Choose the name of the subdirectory. This is unique across all apps, so think carefully before choosing. I have simply used my app names as they were not (yet) taken.

In order to support existing users PLUS new ones, my plan was to detect whether the app is already linked to Dropbox, and if so use the old key/secret pair for authentication. If the app is not yet linked, I use the new key/secret pair.

One slight issue is that there is no obvious way to detect which access method is currently being used. Basically the Dropbox APIs don’t tell you. I therefore have to keep track of this myself with a hidden user setting. When the app is first launched, I first try the old method. If it is linked to Dropbox already, I continue to use that. But if not, I switch to using the new method from that point onwards.

The only slight drawback is that users will need to copy their existing files from one folder to another. I will of course document this with each update!

UPDATE: Hill Lists 4.1 now includes this change. My other apps will follow.

Account Tracker calendar input

February 9, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 Quite a few people have commented (or have left negative reviews) about me removing the calendar input from Account Tracker. The reality is I haven’t removed it at all, I just changed the default setting to use the iOS 7 scroll wheels (HINT: look in the Advanced Settings). The old calendar input looks very dated on iOS 7 and it really needs replacing.

I do appreciate that the scroll wheels don’t show the day of the week. This is an Apple limitation as they don’t provide a scroll wheel for date input that lets you see the day of the week as well as the full date.

The solution to all of this is a completely new iOS 7-like calendar picker. I have been experimenting with this today and have come up with the following (screenshot below). This provides all the functionality of the old calendar input, but it looks a lot nicer. It also supports jumping forwards and back a year at a time (using the double arrows).

It will be included in my next update, coming in a few weeks.

2014-02-09 05.53.33

Meter Readings UI changes for iOS 7

December 22, 2013 Comments off

I am adding a few tweaks to Meter Readings, so I thought I would try to adapt the UI to iOS 7. I have included some screenshots below (click on them for full sized images). Comments welcome!

IMG_1972 IMG_1973 IMG_1974 IMG_1975 IMG_1976

Downloads from SkyDrive broken

July 26, 2013 Comments off

In a recent change to its SkyDrive service, Microsoft have introduced a bug that causes corruption of files downloaded by older or existing apps (including Account Tracker for Windows Phone). See

I reported this to Microsoft a couple of days ago, and they were unaware of the issue. They are now investigating. I am hoping they can fix this at their end, rather than it requiring an app update.

Note that existing backup files are actually fine, and should be useable again once they fix the download problem.

UPDATE 1 (29th July) – I am about to submit a fix for this to Microsoft.

UPDATE 2 (2nd August) – Microsoft have now fixed this. See

Balance graph

February 9, 2013 Comments off

Currently the balance graph in the reports shows END OF DAY balances for the period you select, one point on the graph per day. The maximum and minimum values again are end of day balances.

However on the account screen itself, where there can be many transactions that fall on a given day, the running balances I show are based on the day order you have configured in the advanced settings.

It is entirely possible (likely even) that the intra-day balances could fall outside the minimum-maximum range shown on the balance graph, as was noticed by one unhappy user (who has since defected to another app).

It is easy enough to calculate the intra-day balances, however I’m not sure how I would go about making the graph match the intra-day min/max. For example a given day could be both the min and the max balance!

Perhaps I could show the intra-day min and max, but leave the graph showing end of day balances.

Is this worth changing I wonder?

UPDATE: I would prefer not to change the graph itself, as this shows a single point per day, which is the end of day balance. The only view in the app where you actually see intra-day balances is the single account screen, so perhaps what I could do is display the intra-day min and max balance for single account reports only, all others would display the end-of-day min and max. This is actually trivial to change.

Hidden features in Account Tracker

January 10, 2013 Comments off

Not strictly hidden! All but one of these features are right there in front of you, yet I keep getting asked questions from long term users who “didn’t realise you could do that”!

My first response to this problem was a post back in August covering some user interface tips. If you missed it, I would encourage you all to read it, even long term users!

Also don’t be frightened to tap on a button if you don’t know what it does. Nothing bad will happen, and if its not obvious, there is usually a popup that tells you. Note that some people don’t spot the buttons at the top left and top right of the screen, despite these being the two most obvious places to put them!

So … here are some “hidden” features …

You can change the balance view on the Accounts screen by tapping on the balance at the top.

You can tap on the blue buttons to the right of each row – go on, try it!

You can hide reconciled or ticked transactions by using the tick button on the account screen.

You can manually tick off transactions by enabling “reconcile by transaction” in the settings.

You can export transactions in CSV format, for importing into a spreadsheet. This can be done wherever you see the CSV button (at the top right of the screen).

Tap the date(s) at the top of the Budgets and Reports screens to change the date period. You can even set your own date range (e.g. to the tax year).

The Reports screen is actually 7 different screens – simply swipe left/right. The little dots at the bottom of the screen tell you where you are.

The app has limited support for look up stocks and share valuations – see this post for details. OK I agree, this one is not that obvious!!

Finally, remember everything is documented in the built in user guide – select Help at the top left of the Settings screen. Or visit my website.