Earnest - the newest member of the FreeAgent (and BigTed) family

Over the last 3 months or so, I've been working with FreeAgent on an iOS app for people who are covered by the new HMRC rules around micro-businesses. I'll let Roan explain it more:

But first, a story. Once upon a time (last November to be exact) the benevolent and all powerful HMRC laid down a challenge to the software kingdom. They felt that good record keeping was still way too difficult for many self-employed people.

Under HMRC guidelines, some of these people (who operate under the VAT threshold if you want to get technical) only have to file 3 line accounts: recording income, expenditure and profit for the year. They also often need to be able to record these when they're on the move or out of the office on a job.

You know we love a good challenge so we set about developing a new iPhone app with just these people in mind. The result is Earnestavailable for free in the iTunes App Store now.

It was a fun app to build, and working with a "proper designer" - Robbie Manson - was quite an eye opening experience. The difference someone with real design skills (ie, not me!) is definitely worth it, and makes the results so much more polished - even after the 10th "can you move that 2 pixels over..." or "we've changed the background on the overview again" comes in. The eye and attention to detail of a designer is really worthwhile.

Chances are, however, this is NOT an app for you. It's designed for people who are under the VAT threshold, and not VAT registered, which eliminates most contractors and IT workers. And it's UK-specific. However, a lot of the things I learned in Earnest I plan to re-use to spruce up mobileAgent and Trip Wallet, so some of the concepts and tricks will make it out there.

Some of the new stuff in here includes using the new iOS5 UIAppearence APIs, where available, as well as almost total replacement of UI components (UITableViewCells, tabbars etc). Some of this was new to me, tho it's not overly difficult once you know what to do. I'm planning on writing about the various bits, including as much code as I can publish. As always,with my apps, this was written in MonoTouch, but it'll be just as applicable to people using the normal xcode tools and Objective-C.

If you want to give Earnest a go, you can download it from the AppStore now. It's free!