Last week, a collective groan was heard throughout the land. This was due to the rising price of fuel. As I washed my car this weekend, I almost shed a tear. Now, I'm not going to get into the politics or hearsays of all the fuel hoopla. The bottom line is this; now, more than ever, is the time to get a handle on your gas problem (pardon the pun). Unfortunately, you can't really put your car up on blocks and take your bicycle with you on your sales calls, daily job site commutes or out of town emergency trips. But you can truly, and accurately, track your mileage so you can make sure you have every earned penny coming back to you. Presenting...MyMileageGenie.
According to ConvergeWireless, the creators of the application; "This is the FIRST Blackberry application to truly automate mileage tracking and reporting in North America. The application uses autonomous GPS technology built right into the Blackberry Smartphone. MyMileageGenie promises to simplify logging business travel (miles or kilometers) when using a personal vehicle, and eliminate having to fuss with old paper logs or spreadsheets."
Though the price of gas won't take a nosedive in the near future, MyMileageGenie may help prevent your bank account from doing so.
I'm a Genie in a BlackBerry Baby
MyMileageGenie has the ability to track time, distance and location automatically using either your Berry's GPS or an external Bluetooth GPS antenna. With these records, you can keep track of billable hours and/or cost. MyMileageGenie enables you to manually input time tracking using the "punch in" and "punch out" method. In the application, you would use "projects" to track all of this information. The first screen that you will see is the "Current Projects" screen. It is here where you will have access to projects you have created, ready to manage. For now, you will have to get started and whip one up. In the menu, you will see a vast amount of options available. Let's look at "New Project" first.
In each of your projects you can enter your client's complete contact information, set a name/description for the project, choose which type of currency to work with (American, Canadian or Euro currencies to begin with and the ability to add/remove currencies), rates and more. Even though you may already have the client's information in your address book, you'll have to enter it in again. Unfortunately, you cannot import contact info directly from your address book. After you enter in the client information, you can then fill in your rates and costs if necessary.
With the project ready to go, it's time to throw some punches! Select the desired project, the next screen will open up the Records screen. When you are about to start a job, hit "Punch In". You can track time or time & distance, depending on the job at hand. You can then choose to track this information automatically or manually. With the clock and gps ticking, you have the freedom to minimize the application and use your BlackBerry as normal or switch to another project. Once you decide to "Punch Out", another screen pops up, the Time Entry screen, where you can input additional information if you desire.
Automatic Distance Tracking is pretty cool in my opinion. Once you Punch In, the GPS kicks in. Soon your screen will display the GPS signal status, time elapsed, current position (latitude, longitude) and current speed. The entries for each project can be modified or deleted, enabling you to create an accurate report at the end.
The ability to create a report is key to any job that requires you to track your hours and the distance travelled to get there. Within MyMileageGenie, you can send these reports off as an email. Again, no access to your address book, so you will have to type in the required email address in the "To", "Cc" or "Bcc" fields. The subject of the email cannot be entered in either. The report attachments can be sent off in csv format (if on a BES you can also send it off in xls format). MyMileageGenie was nice enough to ask if you would like the project to be deleted after sending off the email. Since all of the data is stored on the device, it may be best to delete after sending. You can also automatically email your current location, using an XML file. This file would contain the Date and time, Employee ID and location (by Altitude, Longitude and Latitude). This email will contain links; one for Google Maps and one for BlackBerry Maps. Each of these maps will point out your current location.
Operating this application is quite quick, easy to manage before running into a meeting. You will spend less time, tracking time. Distance and location inquiries on bulky forms or post it notes while on the road. Sometimes, I found that the application would freeze up my Berry for a few seconds after Punching Out from Distance Tracking. This was due to the application blackbox not responding.
MyMileageGenie has a lot to offer, tracking billable hours, distance and costs. It should help you put money back in your pocket, after you buy the application of course. The price tag is a bit steep, available from the CrackBerry store for $59.95. Luckily a 14 day free trial is available so you drive with MyMileage Genie before you buy. That's plenty of time to get to know the app. At $59.95 it's definitely one of the priciest BlackBerry apps I have reviewed, but I guess if it changes your life for the better and you use it daily the sticker shock will soon go away. Its advantages do outweigh the cost and you should definitely see the ROI in a short period of time. I would like to see access to the native calendar and address book, to save even more time from manually entering information. MyMileageGenie, if harnessed properly, will help you keep a close eye on your billing and fuel consumption.