Last week, we learned from GeekWire that Google has applied for a patent on our bread and butter technology: tracking groups of bills split with friends. The patent application describes a system of shared balances and payments between friends in a group – exactly what Splitwise and some of our competitors have been doing publicly for years. Google currently has no group-splitting product, and one can only assume they are considering adding a splitting service to Google Wallet. (Google, if you want to integrate Splitwise with Wallet, reach out to us).
For the past few months, Splitwise has been hard at work making much-needed improvements to our Android app. We released a faster, less buggy build in late August, and since then we’ve devoted nearly all our developer resources to a pristine 3.0 candidate that we can’t wait to get into your hands.
To achieve Android awesomeness for 3.0, we needed to build a Gmail-style autocomplete field for selecting friends when creating expenses. I was expecting to find this fairly easy to do with the Android SDK. Lots of apps must need this need, and I was aware of the AutoCompleteTextView and MultiAutoCompleteTextView classes. How hard could it be?
I’m going to kick off a multi-part series on US Census data by offering a totally free download, in XLS or CSV format, of something strangely hard-to-Google: the 2010 US Census population by Zip code (technically, by ZCTA). Splitwise is offering these files free of charge and in the public domain, and I can’t believe how many other sites are charging for them!
But the difficulty I had in creating this data set and using the US Census website has inspired me to write a bit more about how to use one of the world’s most interesting open data sources.
If you are the creator of a website or web application yourself, you might want to install the rack-preview gem for Ruby, or something similar. We discovered Safari Top Sites was polluting Splitwise’s Google Analytics and Mixpanel data.
A couple of weeks ago, while digging into our site analytics, we noticed something strange with Safari. We’d just launched Fat Rabbit and were really interested in making sure we measured all the useful statistics around user growth and engagement. As we pulled out interesting details about website visits (using a combination of Google Analytics and Mixpanel), we started seeing an odd pattern – the average visit length on Safari was half that of our other browsers and the bounce rate was much higher.
After two long years of trying to figure out how to make money, Splitwise has finally settled on a sustainable business model that will enhance the user experience of our website and keep ourselves profitable into the future.
Charging money for payments? Lame. Advertisements? Meh. Premium features? What premium features?