Your iPhone is always with you, and that makes it the perfect tool for tracking milage so you're ready when the time comes to claim your expenses or work on your taxes. But what's the perfect mileage tracking for the iPhone? Rather than have you waste your time (on free apps that don't work right) or your money (on paid apps that aren't worth the cash), iMore took a look at several popular mileage tracking apps in the App Store, and figured out which was the absolute best one.
It's Trip Cubby by App Cubby, and here's why...
Update: Trip Cubby has been replaced with Mileage Log+
- $9.99 - Download now
Interface and design
Trip Cubby's main interface is designed to show you all your mileage at a quick glance. Upon launching the app you'll see a main screen that is populated with all the trips you have input into Trip Cubby. Along the top you have a search button, so if you have lots of entries, it is easy to find what you're looking for. In the upper right is where you tap in order to add a new trip.
The bottom menu in Trip Cubby isn't overly complicated and only consists of a few items such as toggling between paid, unpaid, and all trips. You can also refresh Trip Cubby if you've got syncing enabled by tapping on the bottom right sync icon. The only other icon in the bottom menu is the settings icon off to the left.
The settings panel is where you'll set up syncing and edit data entry settings such as what mileage should be reimbursed as. You can also change some basic number bad settings and what tabs are visible for trip detail. If you'd like to change the presets for deduction rates, you can also do that here.
When comparing Trip Cubby to other apps such as TripLog and Milog, the subtle interface differences just makes Trip Cubby much more enjoyable to use. Any time you want to store a lot of numerical data in one place, it's very easy for the interface to get confusing. TripLog and Milog are two examples of this.
Launching Triplog, you're presented with an overly cluttered screen that asks you a lot of questions, all at one time. Given the information is easy to fill out and save, the more a developer puts on a screen, the more overwhelming it becomes to users. This is very much the case with TripLog.
Milog has a much better interface than TripLog, which makes it easier to use. Much like Trip Cubby, you'll have a basic menu in which most of your information is aggregated in the middle of. You can tap on the plus sign in the upper right hand corner to add a new log or use the bottom menu to access items such as new logs, reports, browse by month, or edit settings.
The one area that Trip Cubby really trumps most other mileage tracker apps are the built-in graphs. While on the main screen, you can tilt the phone to the side in order to view nicely laid out graphs that breakdowns of what kind of expenses you have, what items are paid vs. unpaid, and a complete mileage graph. You can then break these sections down further by choosing time increments such as by weeks, months, years, and all data.
This is a great user interface implementation that allows you to view lots of data very quickly without having to weed through reports and entries.
The only downside is that Trip Cubby hasn't yet been updated to support the new 4-inch, 16:9 display of the iPhone 5. That doesn't change it's usability, but it would be nice to have.
To actually track mileage within Trip Cubby just tap the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. From here you'll be able to fill out details. At the top you'll notice a frequent trips section. This is where you can add common trips to that list so you can access them and repeat them again later without having to fill everything in again.
Outside of just entering standard mileage into Trip Cubby, you can also sort them by tags and purpose. This makes it easy to find things later on. If you only want to see what mileage you spent traveling for advertising reasons, you can do so. You can also name a destination. Underneath that you will enter your odometer reading and Trip Cubby will automatically figure out the mileage for you. The settings panel allows you to toggle on and off tenths of miles in case you don't need those or your employer doesn't allow it.
Trip Cubby touts being IRS compliant as one of their features. This means that the rates inside the app should be IRS accepted rates for those types of deductions. I did, however, realize that the rate for business travel was a little off. Trip Cubby has it pre-programmed as $0.55 per mile while the IRS will actually accept $0.555 per mile for the tax year of 2012. This is very easily remedied by popping into settings and adding one extra digit onto the default allowance for business mileage. It isn't a huge difference but if you drive a lot for work, every penny helps.
TripLog is easy enough to figure out when it comes to inputting mileage data but from there, it gets hair. Sorting through that data later and viewing entries or editing them gets a little messy. Once you've entered something into TripLog it will automatically add it to the bottom of the already cluttered screen. Tapping on the blue arrow next to already entered data will bring you to the actual trip log.
TripLog also doesn't support entering custom reimbursement amounts. It will only keep track of straight mileage and any expenses such as tolls that you incur. If you like to know what you're owed, you're out of luck. Trip Cubby not only allows you to customize what you get reimbursed for mileage, it calculates it for you and lets you easily see what you're owed and what you still need to be reimbursed for.
Milog is a little better than TripLog and lets you set rates for mileage but doesn't include any by default. You'll need to add them every time or choose from a rate that you've already used at some point. For some, this may not be a bad thing since you'll probably use the same rate a good majority of the time.
At the end of the day, Trip Cubby just makes it easier to track mileage and know your position with reimbursement by simply opening the app and glancing.
Trip Cubby allows you to easily view statistics in a few different ones. The most obvious is what you're owned for mileage and expenses. You can see this data quickly and easily by just opening Trip Cubby. The main screen shows you a brief overview of your logs. Along the bottom you can toggle between paid, unpaid, and all entries. This makes it super easy to filter out what you're owed for so you can export it for reimbursement.
My favorite feature of Trip Cubby, and what really sets it apart from all other mileage tracking apps, is the graphing features. While on the main menu you can rotate your iPhone sideways in order to view graphical statistics on your mileage, expenses, and more. There are several breakdowns so you can track trends. If you're trying to figure out what times of the year you tend to travel most whether that's to predict how much you'll be spending on mileage or another reason, Trip Cubby makes that task super simple.
The first graph you see in Trip Cubby is a deduction graph. This graph breaks out all your deductions over different periods of time. Each deduction type will get its own section on the chart represented by a different color. The next graph will show you how many paid entries you have versus unpaid entries. Again, both will be represented by a different color.
The last graph, and probably the most useful for most, is a mileage tracker graph. Here you can see a plotted graph that shows what mileage you incurred in the time periods specified. Trip Cubby currently gives you the option to choose between all data, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, and 1 week. It's a pretty decent breakdown and will be perfectly acceptable for most people's needs.
Mile tracking apps such as TripLog and Milog just don't give as useful of information as Trip Cubby does when it comes to tracking statistics. In some cases, certain mileage tracking apps don't give you any statistics tracking.
Expense reports and exporting
If you have the need to track mileage and expenses, you probably have a need to pass those off to someone for reimbursement or to have records for your accountant come tax time. Trip Cubby is perfect for this. To create an expense report, tap on the search icon in the upper left hand corner. From here you can search by keywords, tags, or any other data you'd like. You can also toggle between paid and unpaid. Once you've aggregated all the data you'd like to include in the report, tapping the export button in the upper right hand corner will automatically create an already formatted email.
The receiver of the expense report will see a plain text version of your report that lays out your odometer readings, mileage, and rates. They'll also automatically get a .csv attached to the email in case they'd like to keep track in Excel or import it into an existing mileage tracking report.
TripLog also supports exporting but the format is not nearly as clean or organized as what Trip Cubby offers. Milog is another story and does offer a much better exporting system which much better search constraints than TripLog. Milog will also attach a .csv file to the email for Excel use.
While Milog creates equally as good exports as Trip Cubby, it's not in any way better than Trip Cubby. There are still other features of Trip Cubby that make it a better buy than both Milog and TripLog.
The bottom line
There are tons of mileage and expense tracking apps to choose from in the App Store. Over the years, we've taken a look at our fair share and we've still found Trip Cubby to be the best possible solution for tracking mileage and expenses.
While mileage tracking apps such as TripLog/1040 and Milog get the job done, they don't do it as well as Trip Cubby does. Not only does Trip Cubby provide a complete package, but a beautiful one as well.
If you want the best app for reporting mileage and expenses, get App Cubby's Trip Cubby.
Update: Trip Cubby has been replaced with Mileage Log+
- $9.99 - Download now