The wait for Mint.com's iPad app is finally over. Today Mint's parent company Intuit unveiled its iPad app, and while many of us would have preferred to have it sooner it proves the old adage "good things come to those who wait." Last week I got a exclusive sneak peek of the app and I can tell you that out of all the websites that have made the browser-to-iPad leap, Mint is the one that has done it most successfully.
Founded in 2006, Mint.com was one of the first fiscal information sites that acknowledged a simple fact: most people just want one easy-to-view dashboard to see all their financial accounts at a glance. Mint.com achieved this through aggregating checking, credit card, and loan accounts and presenting them to users in a beautiful UI. Mint was so successful in achieving its goals, personal financial software powerhouse Intuit bought the company in 2009.
Since the iPad launched, Mint users have been clamoring for for a native iPad app. While Mint.com is an excellent web-based service, the site is hard to use on the iPad since its high level of interactivity was designed for desktop web browsers rather than large touchscreens. With the release of the Mint iPad app today, the company has brought the full power of its service to the iPad.
As a whole, the iPad app offers more engaging ways to view your finances than the browser-based service ever could. Launch the Mint app and you're presented with the Overview screen, composed of five modules that let you see your financial health at a glance. The charts module at the top of the screen shows you a quick overview of your finances using colorful graphs. These graphs allow you to easily see your spending overview, your spending over time, and your net income.
The mini feed module is a Twitter-like feed of your financial history, including alerts and financial advice. The budget module tracks your monthly spending. The top spending module shows you the top categories you spend in. Finally, the accounts module shows you all your accounts at a glance.
Tapping on any of the modules takes you to a more detailed screen breaking down your finances. For example, tapping on the Spending Overview graph in the charts module takes you to a new screen where that graph is fully interactive. On this screen you can scroll though the pie chart (much like you scroll an iPod's click wheel) to really dig in to see where your spending is going.
When you've chosen a category in the interactive pie chart you can tap on the category to see all of its transactions and, even cooler, see all the details of that category laid out in an interactive pie chart. At the bottom of the individual category charts is the Time Navigator, which allows you to select a single month to view your spending in a specific category or select a range of months to see how you've been spending in that category.
A nice feature about the app is that is really takes advantage of using multitouch gestures to navigate within it. For example, when viewing an individual transaction you don't need to tap a "back" button on a screen to return to the previous screen, you can simply swipe the current page out of the way to get back to it. It's little features like this that making using the Mint app such a joy.
Other welcome features of the app include a search function that allows you to search transactions by merchant, categories, or tags; passcode lock with automatic wiping if the wrong passcode is entered too many times; every transaction can be edited right in the app; and users can enter manual transactions that let them track cash purchases on the go.
The manual transaction feature integrates with Google Places, allowing users to see a list of nearby merchants that they can then select as the place they spent their cash. Manual transactions will automatically be categorized based on the type of merchant selected and they are also mapped and geotagged. Speed is also something you see in the iPad app. Users who have been with Mint for four or five years probably have a large amount of transaction histories for their accounts, and the Mint app navigates transaction histories quickly without any lag.
When I interviewed Mint founder Aaron Patzer shortly after Apple unveiled the iPad, he told me that a Mint iPad app was something the company was planning on. So why did it take so long?
According to the Mint developers who gave me an advance preview of the app, they didn't want to release a Mint iPad app just so they could say they had an iPad app. They wanted the Mint iPad app to have as high an impact as possible and they wanted to take the time to get it right, "putting the stress on quality" as one Mint engineer told me.
Mint "wanted something that really did justice to the device. We didn't want to just port the iPhone app and just magnify everything. [We] wanted it to feel very immersive. The way people use the iPad is very different than the way they use the iPhone. People spend a lot more time on the iPad. The usage patterns are different. [We] wanted to really give people a mechanism [where] they could really dig deep into their finances."
Given how well the app runs, it's a bit surprising that Mint's developers consider Mint for iPad as a "very 1.0" release; they are already planning to add more features to it, like additional trends charts (including Net Worth) and goals.
My take: Mint has done a better job translating the site to the app than almost anyone else who's gone down this road, because their app captures the full functionality of the website without compromising any usability features. Indeed, because of its powerful interactivity and features I would say that the Mint for iPad app is even better than the Mint website at allowing users to view, track, and manage their personal finances. It's that good.
Check out the gallery below to see what the app looks like and then download the free universal iOS app from the App Store.