10 Essential Money Apps for the iPad
Apple's iPad has taken the tech world by storm - released in April of last year, the company shifted 3 million units in less than three months and almost instantly snatched a 95% share of the tablet market. With Christmas just past, a new wave of consumers have been getting their paws on the must-have accessory. One of the first things a new Apple-device owner will want to do is load up on apps, but with nearly quarter of a million in the official store, it's not easy knowing where to start.
We've separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you ten of the very best money apps for the iPad, forming a great mix of handy finance calculators, bill tools and money-saving utilities... if you've just paid full retail price for an iPad, chances are you could do with a money-saving app or two!
Methodology: While we've tried and tested all of the below as well as taking into account popular press reviews, each of the apps on this list have been given an average of at least 3 stars reviews by 100 (or more) customers in the UK app store. Since we recognise that no product is infallible, to keep things fair we've listed the few flaws in these otherwise great apps for your consideration.
To download any of these apps, head on over to the Apple App Store on iTunes or direct through your iPad. This step-by-step guide explains how to download apps in more detail. You may also like to check out our top financial app picks for each of the three main smart phones.
If you want a personal financial manager which not only looks great but takes next to no effort to run, you could do much worse than PocketMoney. Amongst its neatest features is the 'budget bar' panel, which shows a customizable visualisation of your outgoing by category; at a glance, you can see exactly where your money is going each month and ultimately identify areas for savings. On that note, PocketMoney is also good at presenting the 'bigger picture' - all your savings, accounts, investments and transactions are laid out in a concise manner. With this much control, it's little wonder that the latest version has been met with entirely positive reviews in the app store (and there is a lite version to try free if you're still not convinced).
2. HomeBudget (with Sync)
Don't let the dollar symbol in the icon put you off - the latest version of HomeBudget allows you to set your region which updates your currency and date settings, so for the first time ever UK users can fully enjoy this old app favourite.
The app deftly handles recurring bills and income streams, all at the tap of the screen. All that's required is to enter your incomings and outgoings, and you'll be treated to a graphical breakdown of how your money is performing, complete with predictions on how much you can expect to have in six months time. It can track multiple accounts, too, and report exactly how much you're spending on certain things (such as food shopping) in both figures and easy-to-interpret graphs. Probably the coolest feature is the ability to sync it with any other device in the house, so your partner can see all the same numbers as they get updated by either party. Highly recommended, and will no doubt be instrumental in saving you money once you start analysing things on a more cognitive level.
Cost: £2.99 (free version available)
3. Bloomberg for iPad
A while back we highly recommended the Bloomberg iPhone app for anyone involved in stocks, and the iPad translation doesn't disappoint either. In fact, we're tempted to argue that it's even better with the larger interface as the amount of data you can pull up is staggering, so ideally you'll want to spread out a bit. The news section is incredibly well presented, and the app as a whole strikes a great balance between catering for both amateur traders and professionals - free apps rarely come so well polished.
4. Easy Books
Keeping track of multiple accounts is a chore at best and a potential nightmare at worst, especially for the self-employed. There are quite a few bookkeeping apps doing the rounds, but many of them are so convoluted we have to wonder whether it would be easier to do it all manually. Thankfully, Easy Books hit the app store at the end of last year and even in its early incarnation, it's a very solid app which performs superbly. It's the perfect antidote for people who find Sage too unwieldy as Easy Books can look after as much, or as little, as you want it to and doesn't require hours to set up. The invoicing system is pretty much perfect - a godsend for sole traders and small limited companies.
5. The Wall Street Journal
As one of the most respected and widely circulated international dailies in the world, it's no surprise that the Wall Street Journal's official app is of superb quality. Rather than being a quick text-to-screen hash job, a great deal of attention has clearly been put into turning it into an excellent iPad translation. There's lots of interactivity in the pages, with videos, slideshows and other media coming alive at your fingertips. If you have a lot of interest in financial goings-on across the pond, the WSJ app will help you immeasurably in keeping your finger on the pulse.
Why did we go with WSJ and not the more UK-centric Financial Times? For one thing, the FT subscription fees are through the roof in comparison (a minimum of around £5 a week for the very basic online subscription, rising toanywhere up to £20) and while the content of FT is top notch, the app does not display it quite as deftly as its competitor.
Cost: Free (with $17.29/month subscription)
It's not an iPad exclusive, but it is fully compatible and an absolute must-have for any eBay addict or people who regularly pay funds to overseas freelancers. Plenty of people hate the whole PayPal system, but very few would be able to argue that the official app isn't a stroke of genius - with it, it's easier than ever to get funds where they need to go. Compared to the web counterpart we'd happily use this every time to complete transactions with just a few clicks, and if there's a more secure method of paying this efficiently we're yet to come across it.
7. Account Tracker
There aren't many apps in the iTunes store which have received five star reviews from every single customer, but the current version of Account Tracker is one of them. Designed by Graham Haley, the same clever developer who created Meter Readings (below), this app is a flawless budgeting tool which has a number of strings to its bow - expense management, account tracking and much more. It's very reassuring to be able to survey your entire money situation at a glance, and there's very little you can't customise. It has all the features you'd expect from a great budgeting app, but it's the neat little touches that have earned this app 100% positive reviews (things such as alerts if an account is likely to go overdrawn.)
8. powerOne Finance Calculator
An algebraic and RPN calculator, powerOne is a must-have for anyone working in the finance field. We're hard pressed to name something it can't do, since it covers ROI, conversions of every kind, compound growths, auto loans, profit margins, depreciation... oh, and it's a pretty good standard calculator too! Possibly the most amazing aspect is that you can, if you can get your head around how to do it, create your own spreadsheet-style templates for your own use or to share with others.
9. iCurrency Pad
How do you score top marks with a currency conversion tool? Surely they're pretty one-dimensional tools, right? Not so with iCurrency Pad, an app that can simply do the sums if that's all you need but offers much more. If you regularly deal with foreign currencies, having an app which presents you with beautiful graphs full of trending data is a very useful thing indeed. All of the information is uncluttered, easy to manipulate and super accurate (all exchange rates are updated by the minute). By far the best currency app out of the myriad available in the Apple store.
10. Meter Readings
It's great on the iPhone, and it's marvellous on the iPad. Meter Readings has earned itself scores of notable mentions from numerous large publications around the world, and we're not hesitant in paying our dues either.
Closely monitoring your energy bills can save you heaps, but doing this is a real chore. Meter Readings takes the hassle out of this - enter all the data you have from your paper bills, then forever after you can tap in your current meter reading and the app will tell you exactly how much energy you've used (and more importantly, what it will cost you). Even better, those of us in the UK can use it to compare prices with other energy suppliers in your area, thus ensuring you're not paying over the odds.
Graphs showing energy usage (for gas, water and electricity) can be generated in an instant - it's interesting to see, for instance, how much you've used over the course of any given year. While the initial set-up can take a bit of time, it's effortless from there on. The concept is great and the execution is flawless, so for only £1.19 we'd be very surprised if this didn't become one of your favourite money-saving apps.