For my day job, I do a fair amount of driving around town. For tax purposes, it’s really important that I track the miles I drive for work, and to do it right I need to record the odometer readings. In the past, I’ve used a simple written log book, but this last week I’ve been using a few trip log apps for the iPhone to see if I could make this whole process easier for myself.
The trip log that I liked best is MileBug from Izatt International. This is a nice little app that does a good job of making the process relatively painless. The biggest obstacle to using any app like this is the time required to enter the details for your trip. The simplest measure would be, “Does it take more or less time than it would to write it down on paper?” I think MileBug passes this critical litmus test.
You can track odometer readings for the start and end of each trip, and you can do so for multiple vehicles. MileBug lets you track trips by Business, Destination, and Purpose and set presets for each of those items for quick entry. You can setup reimbursement rates for each business if you need to track rates for the standard federal tax deduction for some trips and a corporate reimbursement that may have another rate for other trips. MileBug will automatically start the next trip from the last known odometer reading to save a little time. I appreciate how the odometer dials roll over, instead of just running from 0 to 9 like in some other apps. It makes it a little simpler to update your mileage when you roll past 9 on one or more of the digits.
To get the data out of MileBug, you can email reports. This sends a table of text with a summary and detailed entries. The email feature integrates with the built-in Mail app on the iPhone which makes it easy to use your address book to make that process easy too.
There are a couple of things that I think could stand improving. Adding a new destination always adds that new entry to your preset list which could become quite long. I chose to use generic entries like “client”, “HQ” and “home” for destinations and used purpose to denote if it was billable or not. Because I wasn’t entering the individual destinations, I just put the details in the “notes” field. There’s also no way to import data back into MileBug if you were to lose it, in say an app update gone bad, or after restoring your iPhone without a backup. I can live without the import, but I have to remember to email the reports regularly.
If you need more detailed records, you might look into Trip Cubby which offers some additional options, but at a much higher price. I particularly like that you can use a keypad to enter odometer readings in Trip Cubby instead of spinning little dials. Still, I prefer MileBug for its simplicity and it works perfectly for my needs.
MileBug is available in the iTunes App Store. The app is priced at $2.99 for a limited time.