Category Archives: Apple

Chronicle Bill-Pay App Puts Time on Your Side

Chronicle is available for US$14.99 in the Mac App Store. It is also available as an iPhone app.

Chronicle

The task of paying bills isn’t at the top of anyone’s bucket list, but as long as we remain tethered to our mortal coil, it’s inescapable.

Those bills can be less of a chore, however, if we can remove some of the uncertainty surrounding them.

I don’t mean the uncertainty about having the money to pay the bills. I’m talking about those nagging questions about bills swirling around in your mind every month: Did I pay the electric bill? When was the water bill due? Have I been using more natural gas lately?

One way to keep those questions from nagging you is to use a bill management program.

Sure, you might be able to create a spreadsheet to track your bills. You might even want to spring for something like Quicken. A spreadsheet, though, may lack some essentials — such as reminders — and Quicken may seem like overkill to many consumers.

Then there’s a program like Chronicle. It includes the essentials without requiring the heavy lifting of a Quicken.

Just the Bills, Ma’am.

Chronicle does bills and only bills. If you’re looking for software to manage your personal finances — bank accounts, portfolios and such — Chronicle may not be for you.

Command central for the software is its overview screen. There you’ll see your bills in a table format. There are four columns — bill name, average paid, amount due and next due date. You can sort the bills by any column by clicking the column’s title.

Also in the overview is a “month at a glance” calendar. Dates when bills are due are marked with an icon. Below the calendar is some aggregate information about your current month’s bills. It includes the total amount due, how much you’ve paid to date during the month and how much in bill payments are due soon. By default, “soon” is seven days, but you can change that in the preferences menu.

Bill Logging

Income information has to be entered manually. However, if you collect a paycheck on a regular basis, you can make an income source repeat, and Chronicle will automatically add it to your income-to-date when appropriate.

Chronicle

Entering a new bill is a snap. You click a prominent plus sign at the top of the overview window. A pop up window will appear with fields into which you enter info about the bill.

Four fields must be filled in: bill’s name, repeat interval, icon and next due date. Optional fields are amount due, total balance, payment URL, reminder and payment method.

Payment methods include automatic, phone, mail and other. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make a payment from a bank account from inside Chronicle. That still has to be done at the site that sent you the bill.

Detail View

Chronicle’s reminder feature remains awake even when the program is closed, so you don’t have to worry about the reminder failing to fire on time.

After you create a bill, it will be listed in the overview window. It will be assigned an icon by the software, but you are able to change it.

When you double-click on a bill listed in the overview window, Chronicle will jump to the bill detail view for the item. The detail view contains rich information about the bill’s account.

Key information about the bill is prominently located on a “sticky note” in a corner of the view. There you’ll see when a bill is due, how often it needs to be paid and its amount.

You can also log your payment from the sticky note, as well as pay the bill.

Pay Me Now, Please

When you click the Log A Payment button, a window pops up showing the date and amount of the bill, as well as a field for a note and a receipt.

Logging a payment into Chronicle will automatically update information associated with the bill, such as its reminder and the next due date.

If you associate a URL with the bill, a Pay Now button will appear beside the log payment one. A click of Pay Now will take you to the site linked to the bill, so you can pay it there.

You can see high, low and average levels for a payment. That’s not very revealing information if a payment is a fixed — like a subscription to Netflix — but can be useful for variable expenses like heating oil purchases.

Historical data is also shown in detail view. You can see a year-to-year comparison of payments made to an account, as well as month-to-month historical information.

In addition to a Mac version, Chronicle is available as an iPhone app. Information can be synced between the two versions of the program using Dropbox.

While Chronicle can’t take the pain out of finding the money to pay your bills, it can help you gain a sense of control over them — and help you pay them on time.


John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.

Apple said to nix apps using ‘cookie tracking’

Apple is said to be rejecting apps that use “cookie tracking” from its App Store.


(Credit:
Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

Apple may be on the way to controlling more of how advertisers get user information from mobile devices.

According to TechCrunch, unnamed industry sources are saying that Apple’s App Review team is denying apps that use “cookie tracking.” This could be a signal that the company is going full force into its own Advertising Identifier technology.

Theoretically, the way cookie tracking works on mobile is similar to desktop: a cookie saves data and information on users’ browsing history that can be used later by the app or Web site. According to TechCrunch, it was introduced as an alternative to unique device identifier (UDID) tracking, which picked up more user data than most people were comfortable with.

Although cookie tracking was able to quell most privacy fears, Apple still introduced its Advertising Identifier technology with the debut of iOS 6 last September. According to Apple’s “About” page on the technology, it is a “non-permanent, non-personal device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods.”

Along with the Advertising Identifier, the company also launched a “Limit Ad Tracking” tool. This tool, which is in the
iOS 6 general settings menu, lets users prevent advertisers from hitting them with targeted ads.

With Apple allegedly rejecting apps that use cookie tracking, iOS app developers will most likely have to redesign their apps to be compatible with Apple’s Advertising Identifier and also take out all technology using cookie tracking.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update when we hear back.

Einhorn Wins a Legal Skirmish but Still Could Lose the War

A U.S. federal judge ruled in favor of hedge fund manager David Einhorn Friday, forcing Apple to remove a bundled proposal that was supposed to be voted on at this week’s annual shareholder meeting.

Einhorn began pushing back against the company’s proposed charter earlier this month when he filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple’s bundled votes would ask shareholders to consider separate matters in one ballot.

Einhorn’s claims met with agreement from U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan, who ruled the proposal “impermissibly bundles ‘separate matters’ for shareholder consideration.”

Part of that bundle included what Einhorn said was Apple’s ability to issue preferred shares. The lawsuit is part of his larger campaign to convince the company to return some of its US$137 billion cash pile to shareholders. In a conference call with investors last week, Einhorn introduced “iPrefs,” his preferred stock proposal that he says could add value to the shares.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently defended Apple’s extra cash and disputed Einhorn’s claim that the company has a “Depression-era mentality.” Cook called the lawsuit a “silly sideshow.”

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

What Now?

Einhorn was wise to use a lawsuit to go after the way Apple had structured the proposals in its charter, said Robert Heim, securities attorney at
Meyers Heim LLP.

“Einhorn did make a strong case that Apple improperly bundled a number of shareholder proposals together, and that under the SEC rules shareholders were entitled to vote on each proposal separately,” he told MacNewsWorld.

The judge’s ruling in this case, however, is limited only to those bundled charters. Apple still has the authority to do what it wants with its cash, Heim added, and Einhorn’s courtroom victory can’t directly change that.

“It is very unlikely that a court would step in and direct Apple’s board to issue preferred shares or to otherwise distribute the cash,” he noted.

The Media Campaign

It’s also unlikely that even with Friday’s court ruling, Einhorn’s public crusade advocating for iPrefs has changed the minds of many shareholders, Heim said.

The media attention is nothing new for one of the world’s most scrutinized companies. Apple has historically done little to fuel media flames or squash any rumors that constantly surround it

That media ambivalence is probably one of the main reasons Einhorn is making his charge so public, but his efforts may still be futile.

“Einhorn likely feels that since Apple is a notoriously private company, it may be more susceptible to public attacks,” Heim said. “In some instances this strategy can work, especially where a company’s management is not popular with shareholders. However, I don’t believe Apple is one of those instances. Apple’s management and board have the support of a number of large institutional investors, and very few investors have come out to publicly support Einhorn.”

Even if Einhorn doesn’t get his iPrefs, though, the buzz surrounding his charge will probably force Apple to make some kind of move — even if just a public statement, said Aswath Damodaran, professor of corporate finance at the
Stern School of Business at New York University.

“I don’t think Einhorn can win, partly because he seems alone in this fight,” he told MacNewsWorld. “But I think that he may win – as will other Apple stockholders – even by losing. Apple will have to do something to respond, and that something may include an increase in dividend or a stock buyback.”