Billings Touch: Time Tracking & Invoicing On-The-Go

Billings Touch allows you to easily track time and manage invoices on your iPhone. It’s perfect for freelancers and small businesses, and comes in two different versions: free and a paid in-app purchase ($14.99). The latter unlocks the ability to sync your data back to your Billings desktop application and to send invoices directly from your iPhone.

Today we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Billings Touch, analysing the features on offer (both in the free and paid versions), and generally showcasing the app!

Getting Started

After downloading the app, the welcome screen presents you with three different options. Pairing with a Mac will only work with the paid version, which you can purchase by tapping ‘Learn More’. Alternatively, you can go ahead and enter your personal details by selecting ‘Start from Scratch’.

You can enter your own details either by hand or – conveniently – select information directly from your contacts list. An image for the logo can be chosen from the image library. If you don’t have an image handy, don’t worry. You can edit all these settings later as well.

Welcome Screen and In-App Purchase Option

Welcome Screen and In-App Purchase Option

The next steps take you through setting your regional taxes and your rates. The currency shown in your rates depends on your device’s Region Format (Settings –> General –> International –> Region Format). Currently it’s not possible to select a currency different from your set region. After that you are all done and you’ll be presented with the Billings Touch main screen.

The Main Screen

Main Screen

Main Screen

From here, you can access all your data and you are presented with an overview of your current work. The top six icons grant you fast access to adding expenses of various kinds. The middle part of the screen can be switched between a time view and an earnings view, with the current day always being the last to be displayed to the far right. As of the time of writing this review, only timed slips will show up on the diagram, fixed slips do not.

All slips – time recordings, expenses etc. – are stored in the ‘Unfiled Slips’ section until you assign them to a customer’s project. Through the three bottom icons you can either add clients and projects (Work) or start timing away (Timer).

Clients, Projects & Slips

To understand how to manage time and expenses with Billings Touch, you need to understand the difference between clients, projects and slips. Clients are either people or businesses you work for. They can have one or multiple projects assigned to them. Your work time (slip) and your expenses can be assigned to a project.

Setting up a client is as easy as tapping the ‘Work’ icon on the main screen and then adding a client from your contacts list or entering the information by hand. Clients can also be arranged into groups – very helpful if you have many clients and want to organize them into categories for easier management (e.g. Web clients, Print clients etc). Projects are being shown in the client’s info window, while the ‘Accounts’ tab becomes relevant once you start invoicing or receive a payment.

Clients & Projects

Clients & Projects

Tracking Time and Expenses

No matter if you charge your clients a fixed rate, track your time, or need to bill expenses you had for their project – Billings Touch is perfectly capable of handling all these methods.

Timing your work is as easy as tapping the ‘Timer’ icon on the bottom right of the screen and starting the timer. A small red badge on the clock icon and – should you leave the application – on the Billings Touch icon will indicate that time tracking is commencing. You can pause and resume any time; you can also start a ‘New Timed Slip’ and enter time you’ve already spent but haven’t tracked yet.

Once you are done timing, you can ‘File’ the slip – that means you assign it to a project. The same goes for all other expenses or efforts. If you haven’t set up a project yet, the slips will be unfiled (they are never lost).

A very convenient feature is the ability to add expenses and time directly from within the ‘Projects’ window. This way you don’t need to file slips afterwards. In addition, Billings (both the mobile version and the desktop app) offer the option to assign a slip to ‘Personal Projects’, for example if you want to monitor time you can’t bill to clients.

Recording Time or Adding Expenses

Recording Time or Adding Expenses

All recordings can be edited, deleted or amended at any given point, making it easy to compensate for additional unexpected work efforts or even errors while managing expenses or tracking time.

Creating Invoices & Managing Payments

Until this point, you’ve tracked time and collected expenses. Now it’s time to charge your client and send them an invoice. Billings Touch makes that incredibly simple. If projects have unbilled slips assigned to them, making an invoice is as simple as touching the corresponding button (“Make Invoice”). All slips assigned to a project will be added to the invoice, but you can deselect any if needed (checkmark icon in front of each item).

Want to change the order of the Slips? No problem. They can be rearranged by holding down on an item and dragging it up or down.

Prior to creating an invoice, you can change the prefix of the invoice’s name and the numbering in the Settings panel. Additionally, you can chose if you want to have a client’s previous balance shown on the invoice or not. Billings Touch comes with three pre-installed invoice templates. Their details can be adjusted trough the bottom menu. You can customize the invoice date, payment term and due date. You can also add a note, thanking your client for the business or reminding them if there are any other overdue statements.

Invoices

Invoices

Created invoices are shown in your client’s ‘Accounts’ tab. From there, you can also manage payments and retainers (a type of down payment), which can be applied to invoices prior to creation.

Manage Payments

Manage Payments

Features of the Paid Version

Billings Touch has a number of “pro” features, that can be unlocked with a $14.99 in-app purchase. These features include the ability to sync with your desktop Mac application, and sending invoices directly via email.

In-App Purchase

In-App Purchase

You can only sync from the desktop application (see explanation here) and on your first sync attempt you will be asked to pick either your desktop version of Billings or the mobile app as the primary information source. The other database will be replaced, so it’s better to have a backup, just in case (it would be nice if this option would be offered on first sync).

After entering a numerical code on your iPhone, the sync commences. For all following syncs it will start automatically when Billings on the Mac is running and the iPhone app is launched. It’s very fast and you have your data shown almost instantly in either application. I expected there to be more to the sync – having to adjust settings etc – but it really is that simple and painless.

Pairing With Your Mac

Pairing With Your Mac

Sync Data and Mail Invoices

Sync Data and Mail Invoices

Conclusion

The mobile application rivals it’s big desktop brother in power. Except for maybe the ‘Reports’ feature of the desktop app it brings everything you need to keep track of your work while away from your Mac. The well designed user interface is a pleasure to use, even if you have never before used a time tracking or billing application.

Considering that the mobile app is only a couple of weeks old, it’s amazingly stable and helpful. That said, there are a few areas for improvement over the coming months.

The app falls short when it comes to the visual customization of invoices. For now you are stuck with the three variations included and cannot sync your personally designed invoices back to the mobile app. Additonally, Billings Touch only sends invoices as HTML attachements. If – for whatever reason – you depend or prefer to send invoices in PDF format, you can do so only through the desktop application

Also, despite its power, the price tag of the mobile app seems a little high at almost $15, considering that you need the desktop application as well. For power users though, who travel a lot and need an easy way of tracking time & expenses and syncing them back to their Macs, Billings Touch can be a life saver.


Summary

Billings Touch is a time tracking and invoicing application for the iPhone, designed for standalone use – or as a companion to Billings on the Mac. It packs a robust set of features, and syncs well with the desktop application.

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  • http://madfatter.com Trevor Fischer

    I have purchased the app and agree with your observations but I’d add that the one major item lacking in the mobile version is the ability to make estimates. I find that more than any other feature, estimates, are what I require when I’m on the go.

    Hopefully Market Circle will add this in the future.

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  • http://ryancash.tumblr.com/ Ryan Cash

    @Trevor

    I’ve passed on your feature request to the engineering team – thanks for the feedback.

  • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

    Yes, Billings Touch is a great app.

    However, not being able to send invoices without paying the US$14.99 makes it near useless.

    And not being able to access the data on the desktop without buying the desktop client for AUD$50 is again very off putting

    So you end up paying around AUD$70 just because you want an iPhone app.

    As if. It’s interesting too I’ve read of Billings desktop owners dumping it because they felt gyped having to shell out so much for the iPhone version.

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  • Tom O’Connor

    It would be great if time could be tracked in decimals also so that the invoice reads “.1″ instead of “0:06″ It would make the application more useful to lawyers, who typically bill in decimal increments. A really simple, classic invoice format would also be a nice feature.

  • Tom O’Connor

    If anyone knows how to get back to the Welcome screen for purposes of setting pairings, I would be grateful for the advice. I am unable to sync right now.

    • Pam Watt

      0.06 does not equal 0.1 – how does this even work?
      why are you billing people?
      I hope you do not mistake 1 min for one hour,
      actually.. what is you biz name? just so I don’t run into this mistake at all

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  • Shola Afolabi

    I am a lawyer and I’ve just started using Billings Touch for invoicing – works well so far but my biggest concern is the inability to send PDF invoices from the iphone! And of course the price of the complete package (iphone and desktop version) needs to be reviewed downwards; there should be at least a discount for customers interesting in buying the full pack. Overall, its the most expensive app i’ve ever bought!!

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