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TUAW First Look: Cha-Ching Touch


Several years ago, I had a simple but wonderful checkbook app for my Palm. It was nothing more than money in and money out with some simple categorization (food, clothing, automotive, etc.). In other words, an electric alternative to a checkbook. Since I don't really write checks anymore, I no longer carry a register around. Plus, that old Palm is dead and gone (having accidentally spent one night in my rainy front yard), so I need an alternative.

We've reviewed mobile financial apps before, like Pennies and Mint. Cory and Mike got to play with those, but I was lucky enough to nab Cha-Ching Touch for review.

The Good

First things first. It's pretty. Every screen and icon is nice to look at and easy to navigate, even the Get Smart-style vault that requires a passcode at launch (note that this is off by default).

To get started, create an account. Choose either Checking, Savings, Credit, Online, Loan or Cash. Each is represented by a unique icon which is a nice little touch. From there, enter an account number and associated URL if applicable.

Gallery: Cha-Ching Touch | 12 Photos

You'll want to get started by depositing some cash, so click the shiny, candy-like "New Transaction" button and add a new payee. From there, you can enter that payee's name, category and location.

The location feature is great and makes it a snap to enter future transactions. Let's say I visit the same donut shop every morning and occasionally gas up on the way. I can speed up future entries by adding both to my favorites, or simply click the Locations button and let the app find all previous transactions I've made at that location (works just fine for me over EDGE with no GPS on a 1st gen iPhone, via the Skyhook WiFI locator capability).

Your transaction will be listed as pending until you click the button to reconcile it. You can also browse a history of alphabetized transactions much like you would artists on an iPod. Scheduling recurring payments is also very easy.

Finally, synchronization with the desktop version of Cha-Ching is a breeze and speedy.

The Bad

Entering a transaction is time-consuming. When I was at said donut shop this morning (you didn't think I was making that up, did you?), I feel rather conspicuous entering the transaction, as it required 7 clicks (not to mention the shop's name) and lots of jumping between screens. Future updates will be easier as I'll be able to select the shop from my list of previous vendors.

Also, there's crossover between accounts. I created a business account and a personal account. In real life, I keep those monies separated. However, the "budget" feature of Cha-Ching Mobile shows my available cash as the balance of the two. Budget lets you allocate a certain amount of cash to a given cagetory (groceries for instance) and monitor your progress towards zero. Unfortunately, it also thinks my personal account has more cash available than it actually does. This makes for a bit of budgetary confusion.

Cha-Ching Touch
is $2.99US on the App Store, and the beta of Cha-Ching 2 for Mac is downloadable now.

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