Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Use your BlackBerry to divide your restaurant bill

Normally when I write about a BlackBerry application I open by describing a familiar situation. After all, apps are only good if you have an immediate need, and needs are dictated by your current circumstances. This one, though, I feel like we’ve all experienced multiple times — too many for sure. You’re at a restaurant and the bill comes. Your task: split it among your party of five. There are so many social nuances going on here. Some people want to pay only for what they ate, while others are fine splitting it evenly. But then those who want to pay for what they ate might undercalculate and leave the bill short (from my experience, this is due to completely neglecting tax and undertipping). Short of the restaurant having this kind of machine, you’re stuck doing the calculations however possible. Your BlackBerry can do this, but there is now a free application that can help.

Via Bla1ze, we learn about SplitCosts, a beta application that makes splitting bills a bit easier. You can enter in any type of bill, the number of people splitting it, and how the split goes. For instance, you can use coefficients — Jon pays twice what Jill pays, for example — or simply enter in what everyone individually owes to determine the balance. You can even take a picture of the receipt to file away for later — or to show someone not present who wants to verify the total cost.

SplitCosts also integrates with your BlackBerry address book so that you can email reports to involved parties. This is particularly useful for collaborative projects that require individuals to pay for the costs. One person goes out to buy the supplies, but everyone gets notification of what they have to pay.

What I’d really like to see on this is the ability to enter an individual’s subtotal. That is, you enter the base cost of what each person consumed. Take, for instance, our example of dining with five people. The party splits two appetizers, each get a drink, and each get an entree. Under the split portion you’d enter the appetizer, and in each individual’s section you’d enter in the total of the entree and the drink. The program would then add up each individual cost, add in the split cost of the appetizer, calculate tax (which you’d have to input), and then generate a tip amount. This would put the exact number in front of everyone. It would help servers, too, when the split goes on credit cards.

Thankfully, the application is still in beta and the developer, Moon Monkey Labs, is taking feedback. In fact, if you get the free beta and provide feedback they’ll give you the upgrade for free. You can get SplitCosts for free. It runs on BlackBerry devices running OS 4.5 and above.

This post originated at BBGeeks.com - home to all things Blackberry!

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