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App Review (iPhone) — Shoeboxed, a stonking way to manage receipts

Processed Receipt
Processed Receipt

I have been meaning to try the Shoeboxed app for the iPhone, and a recent business trip to New York was the perfect opportunity.

The idea behind Shoeboxed is solid, it is definitely a utilitarian app that aims to make your life easier. Rather than having to keep and then transcribe your receipts, all you have to do is snap a picture of your bill (you’ll need the autofocus of the 3GS) and then upload it. From there, it is magically sent to the Shoeboxed folks on the wings of a dove, where it is then sprinkled with magic pixie dust and catalogued by the receipt’s total, date and place. Maybe “pixie dust” is too technical of a term for you, so I’ll just say that they are probably processed through OCR or maybe even with human eyes on handwritten cab receipts. Let me just say, Shoeboxed does what it’s supposed to do and is brilliant at doing it.

In my experience using the app, the receipts were uploaded quickly, and processed usually by the next time I had another receipt to upload. To see the pixie dust on Shoeboxed’s end work its magic is really freaking awesome, or stonking as Ewan might say. Shoeboxed has that “WOW” factor to it that is essential in all apps on which I bestow the “brilliant” superlative. I found myself showing it off to my friends, unprovoked.

Once the receipts are processed, you can select which ones you want to be compiled and then send a report via email, complete with pictures.

I am not a frequent traveler, but if I were, Shoeboxed would be an even more useful app. It is easy to use, and very intuitive, which is also the hallmark of a brilliant app. If your app isn’t understandable unless you’ve read a manual about it first, then your app is simply not brilliant.

However, even a brilliant app can be imperfect, and there is one gripe I have with Shoeboxed.

The last receipt that I photographed on my trip wasn’t really a receipt at all, it was a BART ticket to the airport, with the amount printed on it in small text. Now I don’t blame the Shoeboxed folks for not being able to process this, but there is a flaw here. Having all the text entered on your behalf is usually great, but in extenuating circumstances (like my BART ticket) you should be able to be manually override the automatic processing. However, currently with the Shoeboxed app, you can’t edit a receipt until it has been processed, so this “receipt” wasn’t processed by the time that my expense report was due. Alas, I lost out on that $7.95.

Un-processed, un-editable
Un-processed, un-editable

This is a small gripe, and one that could be changed by the Shoeboxed folks in the near future. So as long as you’re okay with the service costs (rate plans here), and you are a road warrior with an iPhone 3GS, Shoeboxed is a no-brainer.

There is a free trial if you’d like to try before you buy.

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