Google trying to patent bill splitting while lobbying Splitwise for patent reform

Google bill splitting patent authors using Splitwise
The Google patent authors hypothetically using Splitwise

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).

A thorough search for prior art
The equally ironic prior art search

Obviously, it’s “not a joke” to have a tech giant submit a patent application for exactly what your business has been doing for years. But we couldn’t help but laugh when, within the same week, a lobbyist paid by Google approached us to ask if we would publicly support a patent reform bill. We are literally being lobbied for patent reform and patent-trolled by Google at the same time. Continue reading Google trying to patent bill splitting while lobbying Splitwise for patent reform

Android Tokenized Auto-Complete, a New Splitwise Open-Source Project

gmail autocomplete in Android 4
This is what we’re going for.

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?

The short answer: Pretty darn hard! Hopefully, not anymore. We’ve just released an open-source version of the code on GitHub! Go grab the Splitwise TokenAutoComplete project to have your own wonderful, tokenized autocomplete view up and running in about half an hour. It works on Android versions all the way back to 2.2 (Froyo). More on my process below the fold.  Continue reading Android Tokenized Auto-Complete, a New Splitwise Open-Source Project

The 2010 US Census Population By Zip Code (Totally Free)

US Population By Zipcode / ZCTA
Population by ZIP code / ZCTA from US Census 2010. Why was this so freaking hard to find?

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.

Continue reading The 2010 US Census Population By Zip Code (Totally Free)

The Splitwise API Is Here

Splitwise API clipart
“Building on Splitwise is fun,” says Clay Clipart, a fake developer at Google Image Search.

We’ve always hoped to give people the power to build new experiences on top of Splitwise, and we’re proud to announce today that we are releasing our first public API.

This will allow developers, Splitwise-lovers, and other companies to integrate with Splitwise. We’ve created an open-source API example, and published the instructions and documentation that we use internally. Check it out! Continue reading The Splitwise API Is Here

Setting up OAuth for the Splitwise API

Let users log into their Splitwise accounts
Users log in to Splitwise, then authorize your app

The Splitwise API is here! With it, any developer can create an app that interacts with a Splitwise account, just like Facebook or Twitter.

Have you ever wished Splitwise had a certain feature so bad that you would be willing to build it yourself? Now you can! Continue reading Setting up OAuth for the Splitwise API

Safari ‘Top Sites’ Pollutes Google Analytics and Mixpanel

Average browser visit time chartIf 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.

Continue reading Safari ‘Top Sites’ Pollutes Google Analytics and Mixpanel

Splitwise Pivots To A New Business Model

Coming soon to a t-shirt near you
Coming soon to a t-shirt near you

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?

The only logical path, as I’m sure you will agree, is to become a web-comic. Continue reading Splitwise Pivots To A New Business Model