Favorites Coming Back to the iPhone

First, I want to let our Android YNABers that we’ve won over our Android developer. He’s been part-time for the past several years, and will be joining the YNAB team full time in January!  I’m very excited about this for two reasons:

1) Android development speed will increase, and

2) I no longer use an iPhone, but rather a Galaxy S4. I’m in your corner, Android folks!

iPhone Favorites are Back

I made a misstep in yanking the favorites feature from our iOS 7 redesign. I assumed the workflow of the Favorites was in speedy transaction entry. Favorites was an old feature, and we’d introduced the superior Geosmart Payees in the process. Using Geosmart Payees means if you’re standing in McDonald’s, having just purchased a salad (!), and go to Add Transaction, YNAB would think something like:

Hey, this guy’s in McDonald’s (again). Last time, they categorized the transaction as Restaurants : Fast Food – Moderately Healthy, so we’ll pre-fill the transaction with McDonald’s, that category, and today’s date…

In the end, all you do is hit ‘Add Transaction’, add the amount, and you’re done. It’s lightning-fast–much faster than finding the relevant Favorite category on your phone, and going that route.


iPhone Favorites were Used for Speedy Category Balance Checking

Yep. This is the workflow I completely overlooked.

People chimed in on Twitter with the release, begging for favorites to come back. I was, at first, perplexed, until I realized they were using the feature to check their few key ‘mobile’ categories (eating out, gasoline, entertainment, etc.).

Whoops.  Now you good people were stuck scrolling and scanning through your (probably too many? Maybe?) category list just to see if you had the $8 available for a gourmet McDonald’s salad.

This excellent behavior, to check your category balance before spending, as quickly as possible, needed support (again).

You Can Now “Pin” Categories

pinned categories main view


At the top of the Budget view, you have your pinned categories. No swiping/scrolling necessary.

(If you need to swipe to see all of your pinned categories, because you’ve pinned say…more than ten… then you’re misunderstanding this feature :) You just pin the ones you really care about, and really need to check, on the go, on a regular basis.

To pin a category, you can press the ‘Pin’ button on the top-right of any category view:

pin from category

For a bit quicker method, you can swipe a category to the left, from within the Budget view, to pin/unpin:

budget screen slide button


From a design point of view, this beats the prior implementation of having a completely separate Favorites view.  These pinned categories are accessible right away, and no other tap is necessary to get to the other categories, if needed.

Other Changes

You’ll see from the shots above, that we’ve added back the totals for the master categories. We’ve deemphasized them appropriately, because they’re not nearly as important as actual category balances, and this now sits much better with me.

We also now allow you to have a split transaction that contains both an inflow, and an outflow. Use cases of this are small, so we were hesitant, but we feel like the implementation didn’t provide much, if any, design overhead, so we put it in.

An example:

mixed split inflowIf you want to change the Transfer : Cash sub-transaction to an outflow, you’d tap the green ‘+’ sign. It basically lets you toggle it from ‘+’ to ‘-’ and back again.

iOS users, enjoy!

Android users, I’m with you guys. Really. I’m using the Android OS, learning its ways, and becoming a fan. I’ve seriously turned my entire life upside down in switching to Android, just to show you how devoted I am to the YNAB-Android cause. Be not dismayed.


YNAB Mobile Apps are Now Free

Before I get to the announcement, I wanted to let everyone know that  the Android app now has Geosmart Payees, which gives it full feature parity with the iPhone! Android users will love that feature.

Starting today, we’re making our mobile apps free for both iPhone and Android. If you’ve been on the fence about whether $5 is worth it, I guess now that question should be answered :) Download the iPhone or Android app (on Google Play only for now; we are still waiting on Amazon approval).

We’ve had a lot of internal discussion about this, and I even posted a question about it on Facebook to see what you guys thought.  The reaction was mixed.  Some said they were happy to pay for it, and were worried that development would slow down if we didn’t charge for it.

Others said that they thought the app should be combined, and they felt a bit nickel and dimed by the second purchase.

A few even said that they didn’t have a smartphone, and wouldn’t want to subsidize development of the mobile apps with their desktop purchase.

Over the last while, we’ve increasingly felt that it wasn’t making much sense to charge for the mobile apps, since the desktop is required for them to have any functionality.

Friction during the trial of YNAB

A potential new user comes to YNAB (likely referred by a friend), sees what we have to offer, and jumps into the trial.  But a big part of what’s making a lot of YNABers successful these days is cloud sync. Users can sync with their spouse’s data, enter transactions on the go, and feel more in control of their money.

But these trial YNABers were in a bit of a pickle.  Do they purchase the iPhone or Android app so they can test cloud sync? (iPhone had the Lite version, but did the trialer know what the difference was based on their experience? Android didn’t even have a Lite version, so the problem was compounded).

On top of not being able to give the full YNAB experience a fair shake, we were also adding one more thing to think about when it came to answering the question of whether or not YNAB–as a package–was worth it.

Advantages to making the mobile apps free

So, we’re making them free.  This has three advantages, the last one being small, but still nice:

1) Those of you worried about development slowing on the mobile side because we’re making them free, don’t worry about it.  We’re fairly confident that the improved experience for trialers of YNAB will improve conversion rates, and that those improved conversion rates will translate into more revenue than was earned when we were charging for the mobile apps.  (Mobile app revenue, as a percentage of total YNAB revenue, is very very small, so this idea is not at all a stretch.)

2) Those of you on the fence about the $5 app being worth it won’t have to ask yourselves that question anymore.  You’ll just have to think about the one-time purchase, and go from there.  The cognitive load for potential purchasers will drop, and we think that will help them come to the right decision. (The right decision, in this case, is to buy ;))

3) We won’t have to send refund checks of $4.99 to people that accidentally purchase the mobile app, not realizing that the desktop app was required!  That doesn’t happen a lot, since we use a very big screenshot to warn people, but it still happens, and it won’t anymore :)  Yeah for less overhead!

To those few that mentioned not wanting to subsidize mobile development with their desktop purchase, I’ll just have to come clean and let you know that you already have.  The mobile app revenue has never made enough to cover their own development costs.

What about those that just purchased?

There will always be some people that just purchased.  We’ve had our builds ready to go free for quite some time, and basically have just been waiting on for the various store approvals (still waiting on Amazon).  So we haven’t given a second thought to which day, or time of week or month would be ideal to make this switch.

The fact of the matter is that there is no ideal time, and we have to make a cutoff somewhere.

Hopefully those that just purchased understand that the change means no offense, and that if you felt the app was worth the $5 purchase before we made this announcement, that doesn’t suddenly change how much you feel the app was worth :)

Conclusion: We’re excited

In the end, we’re excited to make this change.  We think it will help a lot more people appreciate exactly what YNAB has to offer, will lead to increased sales, and will help us further development to make YNAB–the whole system–even better.

YNAB for iPhone & Android – Questions Answered

Grab YNAB for iPhone here.

Get YNAB for Android on Google Play or on the Amazon App Store (for Android phones and the Kindle Fire)

YNAB 4 is required for Cloud Sync. If you haven’t yet upgraded, you can upgrade here ($40 if you purchased on or before December 26, 2012, free if you purchased thereafter).

Please read this post. It will likely answer some questions you may have, and will save our support team from having to individually answer hundreds of the same question ;)

Will the latest app versions work with YNAB 3?

Yes. But only using the manual wi-fi sync protocol. When you’re doing your setup on your phone, select Wi-Fi sync. (Exception: the iPhone Lite app only offers Cloud Sync). You can change your sync method at any time on your phone by clicking the settings button at the top-right of the main screen.

I already own a prior version of YNAB for iPhone/Android, what will the upgrade cost?

It will be a free upgrade. On your respective device, simply follow the links above and you’ll be brought to the YNAB App page where you can download the update for free.

I don’t own YNAB for iPhone/Android, what is the cost?

The cost of the app is $4.99.  If you’re an iPhone user and not certain there’s value in entering your transactions on the go, consider trying the free YNAB for iPhone Lite first. (YNAB for Android Lite will come once the Android version has feature parity with the iPhone.)

I’m an iPhone user, what are the differences between the Full and Lite versions?

The Lite version does not have Geo-Smart Payees (where we use the phone’s location awareness to automatically set the category and payee when you begin adding a new transaction).

The Lite version does not have Favorite Categories, where you can designate certain categories as Favorites for quicker entry.

The Lite version does not have the home screen, or account view. It offers only your budget categories, and the ability to add new transactions.

The Lite version does not do wi-fi syncing where you can initiate a manual sync between your desktop and phone when they’re on the same network, or create an ad-hoc network. The Lite version only does Cloud Sync. Because of this, the Lite version cannot sync with YNAB 3.

The Lite version does not have the ability to clear/unclear transactions, or set/remove flags on transactions.

The Lite version will not have new features added to it (we’ll obviously fix bugs and make sure it’s ready for future OS versions and all of that). The full version will see significant future improvements.

I have multiple iOS/Android devices, do I need to purchase the app multiple times?


If all of your devices are iOS and they share the same iTunes account, YNAB for iPhone will be available for download (go to the App Store, search YNAB, find the app, and click the Install button).

If you have two different iTunes accounts, you can follow these instructions to make sure you don’t have to purchase twice.


If you use the same Google account between Android devices, you can install YNAB for Android on all of those devices. If you use a different Google account, you’ll have to purchase the app for each device with a different email address.  OR, you could consider purchasing through the Amazon App Store, where Amazon allows you to authorize separate devices to install and run the same app. Instructions for this are here.

Do I need to purchase twice if I have an Android and my spouse has an iPhone?

Unfortunately, yes. Where our desktop is one price for multiple Windows or Mac machines, the different App Store requirements don’t allow us the same luxury.

What are the Device/iOS requirements?


  • The app runs on any device with iOS 4.3 or later.
  • However, Cloud Sync is only possible on devices that can multitask (iPhone 3GS and later, iPod 3rd generation with 16GB and later) and have at least iOS 4 running.  This means you’d still have to use the manual wi-fi sync that was used in YNAB 3. Please update your OS version!

The app will run on any Android phone using Android 2.1 or later.  The app will also run on your Kindle Fire, though it is not optimized for the larger screen. By that I mean that you’re getting essentially a larger screened version of the phone app.

I have unsynced transactions on my old version of YNAB for iPhone, what do I do with those?

If you’re using YNAB 3, you don’t need to do anything different. The new version of YNAB for iPhone will still sync with YNAB 3 via the manual wi-fi sync protocol.

If you’re using YNAB 4 on your desktop, follow these steps to sync your transactions before upgrading:

  1. Open your budget in YNAB 4 on your desktop.
  2. Go to File -> Budget Properties and under “Cloud Sync this budget?” select “No, make it local.”
  3. Go to File -> Wi-fi sync with Mobile Device and follow the instructions there.
  4. The transactions will come from your iPhone and land in YNAB 4 just fine. However, the iPhone will report that the sync failed (the old version of the iPhone can’t talk with YNAB 4 both ways, it can only send transactions).
  5. The ‘sync failed’ message is expected.
  6. Go to File -> Budget Properties and activate Cloud Sync.
  7. Update your iPhone app and choose Cloud Sync during the initial setup.
If you’ve already update the iPhone app, on setup choose to  Wi-Fi sync first. Once you’ve done your wi-fi sync to get those unsynced transactions into YNAB 4 (by doing steps 1-3 above), go to the main screen on YNAB for iPhone -> Settings -> Sync Method and choose Dropbox.

If you’ve already “lost” your unsynced iPhone transactions, Taylor, our lead developer, wrote a forum post that instructs you on how to get them back. We really don’t want you losing them.

How do I cloud sync when we have two (or more) separate Dropbox accounts?

Option 1 (Easy): Set up each phone to Cloud Sync, and when prompted to authenticate with Dropbox, simply login with the “primary” Dropbox account you’ll be using.  Only YNAB for iPhone/Android will have access to the Dropbox account on that device, and access can be removed at any time by logging in to Dropbox and deactivating the authorization.

Option 2 (Advanced): This article explains Cloud Sync in detail. You’ll want to scroll down to the last topic, “How do I share a budget file with someone?”

Do I need to install Dropbox on my iPhone/Android device?

No. When you press the “Link Account” button in the Cloud Sync setup, you’re brought to a page where you can login to your Dropbox account and allow YNAB access to it. You are not required to install anything extra.

Will there be a full-featured iPad app?

Because of the many questions surrounding an iPad app for YNAB, I wrote a fairly lengthy post over in our forums. There’s where you’ll find pretty much every question answered (at least I hope!).

Will this version of the iPhone app run on my iPad?

Yes. Just like any other iPhone app that isn’t optimized for the iPad, you can run it in the small view, or tap the 2x button to expand it to the size of the full iPad screen.

Will there be a full-featured Android tablet version?

At the moment, we are making no plans for a full-featured Android tablet version. If we see that it becomes economically viable, we will—with opportunity cost obviously taken into account.

When will the Android version have all the (two extra) features of the iPhone?

We are working on them right now. By right now I mean that code is checked in daily to get us there. Split transactions are our first priority, and then we’ll get Geo-Payees in there. At that point, we should have parity.

I’ve reviewed YNAB for iPhone/Android, but now that you have Cloud Sync, I’d like to adjust my review (upward).

Well gosh, thanks for asking. If you left us a review that docked our prior version a bit for not having Cloud Sync, we’d love to have you make any necessary edits ;)

Full iPhone App is In Review, YNAB Lite, and the Kindle Fire

Quick update here.

Yesterday the full iPhone app went into review! It’s still in review and we have high hopes it’ll pass this time. We were heartened to see it go back into review after having to submit a new binary over the weekend.

And as a bonus, the Lite app also went into review.

We also submitted the latest Android version (available on Google Play) to the Amazon app store. It should play nice with Android phones and the Kindle Fire.  It’s been submitted, but by now you guys know the drill. We wait for the review to happen :)

Thanks to all of you for your glowing review of YNAB Lite! We really appreciate it.  The next update that’s coming through will fix a few issues that nailed us on the 1.0 release.

YNAB for iPhone Status Update (Full App Rejected Again)

The good news is that YNAB Lite has been in the wild since Friday evening.  Over the past 2-3 weeks, while waiting for the review, we’ve been fixing bugs and doing little tweaks to YNAB Lite. So we were ready to immediately submit 2.0.1, which is now Waiting for Review.

There was one crash that caught us off guard, and were able to update the Desktop App to handle that. It was on the phone’s side of things, but since we don’t have to wait for Apple approval on our own desktop release, we were able to get that out quick. If you’re experiencing a crash on sync, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of YNAB 4 (you can do that by going to Help -> Check for Updates in YNAB 4).

The exact timing of things with YNAB for iPhone (Full) over the weekend is murky for me. I believe Saturday morning we found out it was rejected because we include links to YouNeedABudget.com, where someone could purchase our desktop software.  Our links were there to let people know that the iPhone app REQUIRES a $60 purchase of Desktop software, and here’s where you find more… we pulled those links.

We also had a link to our support page in the app, but pulled that to be safe.

Some of you more familiar with Apple’s policies probably know that they don’t like you shuttling iPhone users away to purchase directly from you.

We were surprised to fail the review in this regard, since we’ve included links to the YNAB site from Day One of being in the App Store (and featured, no less!).

We’re also very grateful that the Lite app made it through, considering it has the same links that the Full version has.

So on Saturday we submitted a new binary. We had to submit the new binary to be able to pull out the links. This means we start at the back of the line with the full app. On the plus side, all of the little fixes we’ve made to the app since it was originally submitted for review are now included in the new binary.

We’re sorry it’s taking so long to get the Full version in everyone’s hands — especially those that have already purchased and are simply waiting to get it as a free upgrade!

YNAB Lite is a fine stopgap until the Full app is released. It lets you check your budget balances on the go, and record transactions at the point of sale. It will definitely help you stay up to date on your budget and make sure you stay aware of your goals. It’s a fine app :)

(To clarify, the differences between Lite and Full are that the Full version: has an accounts view, allows wi-fi sync, category favorites, and my favorite: geo-aware payees, where when you go to add a new transaction, it recognizes you’re probably standing in Home Depot, and pre-fills the payee to Home Depot, and categorizes the transaction to whatever category was last used by Home Depot; you end up entering the Amount and hitting ‘save.’ Unless you have a dozen accounts, in which case I don’t envy you for so many other reasons :))


YNAB for iPhone Lite — Rejected & Re-Submitted

We received notice this morning that the YNAB for iPhone Lite app was rejected because the reviewers needed to be given a test Dropbox account. We set that all up for them and re-submitted immediately.

Since the update to the current iPhone app is still “Waiting for Review,” we update the Reviewer Instructions there as well, hopefully avoiding another round trip with the reviewers.

We’re now back and “Waiting for Review” with both apps. We’re going to request an expedited review again in a few moments. We’re told the clock doesn’t reset if you just update your application’s metadata (which is all we’ve had to do so far), but there was still a nine-day delay between re-submitting the Lite app and having it go to review again. So who knows how long this wait will take.

Here’s hoping there’s only good news going forward.

YNAB for iPhone LITE moves to “In Review”

Woot! That’s progress folks. Let’s just hope we get green-lighted (lit?) here shortly.

The full version, (the one you’ve been using if you’ve had YNAB for iPhone up to this point) is still “Waiting for Review.”

If the Lite (free) version does become available before the full version, I’ll still let everyone know, so you can start using Cloud Sync asap. The differences between Lite and Full can be found here.

Once the full version has the green light, you could upgrade, then uninstall the Lite version.

I’m trying unsuccessfully not to get my hopes up.

YNAB for iPhone Still Delayed

5:06 PM MDT July 4, 2012 >> The Lite version has moved to “In Review”

If you want the whole spiel, with 400+ comments (and my answers to a lot of questions), you can read the original status update.

This is for those people that read the blog via RSS and don’t want to manually go back and check the blog.

Both YNAB for iPhone and YNAB for iPhone Lite are still “Waiting for Review.” They were submitted originally on June 15.

We received a rejection for YNAB for iPhone late on June 25th telling us that we couldn’t include a 30-day moneyback guarantee in our app description. We immediately pulled it and resubmitted with new metadata. According to Apple, the submission did not put us to the back of the line because no new binary was required.

That same day, late in the evening, we received a rejection for YNAB for iPhone Lite, telling us we needed to include a video demoing the Cloud Sync feature. We made a quick video, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared the video link in our reviewer instructions.  We also made a second video demoing YNAB for iPhone and included that in its reviewer instructions (just in case the reviewer asked for that later, we didn’t want to delay the process by having to make another round trip).

It’s now July 1 and both apps are still sitting at Waiting for Review. We are guessing Apple is simply backlogged and that it’s not something fundamentally wrong with the apps. This guess stems from the fact that the apps aren’t sitting for a long time in the review process, but rather waiting in line for the scrutiny.

We have no best guess for when they’ll be approved. Our best guess (based on Apple’s reporting) was that we had a 98% chance of approval in five business days. We now can no longer venture any guess at all. In our experience, this is unprecedented.

We apologize for the delay of the iPhone’s availability.