Wednesday, August 27, 2008

iPhone GPS: Why NOT use it for mileage tracking?

When we first designed MileBug, our intent was to use the new GPS feature of the iPhone 3G to track mileage. It would require less effort and provide more accuracy in case of IRS audit. Unfortunately the iPhone will not allow 3rd party apps, like MileBug, to run in the background. 

So while we thought it would be great for a user to simply turn on MileBug at the start of a trip and have the whole trip mapped, we realized that if the user chose to do anything else with their phone (take a call, use maps, pass to passenger to play a game, etc) then the pathway during that activity would be lost! Why? Because in order to answer/place a call, get directions, or play a game, the mileage app would be shutdown. We could always pick back up once the user restarted the app after the other activity, but where would that leave the user...with a gap in the trip! And what if they forgot to restart? It's fairly easy to go back and fill in odometer readings, but a little more challenging to go back and fill in GPS coordinates.

We also considered having a simple GPS start point and end point and let Google Maps calculate the route. That may still be an option, but it serves the IRS more than the user. That is, Google Maps will calculate the shortest route, and thus the smallest deduction. What if you got lost and spent another 5 miles wandering? Or if you were given different directions, other than the shortest route? The start/stop GPS points would cheat you out of the deduction you truly deserved.

Please let us know how you feel about using GPS. Did we place too much importance on the concerns we came up with? Would it still be useful in some way? Just click the "comments" link below and let us know.  Thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Presets: Easy selection for easy trip recording

When we designed MileBug, we decided to go with the same idea as your car radio preset buttons. There's generally a lot of writing when miles are tracked in a notepad and we wanted to eliminate as much of that as possible. So we created the Presets. You can setup multiple businesses, multiple destinations and purposes per business, and even multiple vehicles. Each one is a simple selection when recording a trip.

We also didn't want the presets to be required. They are wonderfully useful for those who have a lot of details to keep track of. But we also wanted MileBug to be simple to use from the get go. So if you want to set up your businesses and common destinations up front, you can. If you want to dive in and use it, you can do that, too. New businesses can be added on the fly, as can destinations, purposes, and vehicles.

Under the Presets tab, you can manage your lists as well. They can be edited, reordered, added to, and removed. Businesses can be of 3 different types: Business, Charity, Medical. Each one has the corresponding IRS deduction rate associated with it. In an upcoming release, there will also be a "Personal" category for those wishing to track their personal miles. There will also be the option of setting your own custom rates per category.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Welcome to the MileBug Blog!

We're really excited to be sharing MileBug with you now via the App Store! What a great way to expand the iPhone and the iPod Touch with so many quality apps (and some not so quality). And now we are a part of it!

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and we're providing this blog as a way for you to provide even more feedback so as we continue to improve and build on MileBug, we can do so with your interests in mind. This is also where you will learn about the little extras and what we have coming in the future.

So stay tuned and let's get our tax deductions!