IQBoxy Prime ($5.99 per user/per month) comes close to being the top all-around app for freelancers and independent contractors whose work demands exceptional, technologically advanced expense tracking. IQBoxy Prime offers seven different ways to import paper receipt data, and it's the only iPhone app we've tested that uses sophisticated OCR technology to read printed information and convert it to electronic records (most apps just let you save the photo). Further, it's one of the very few apps offering tools to move expenses into QuickBooks Online and Xero. Alas, IQBoxy Prime doesn't do nearly as much as our Editors' Choice, GoDaddy Bookkeeping Essentials, but it looks great, is exceedingly easy to use, and offers unusual features like multi-currency support, very simple budgeting, and "shoebox" processing of paper receipts.
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The Magic of OCR
After you've downloaded the app and created a username and password, there's very little setup required. You're asked for your time zone, your currency, sales tax rate, and monthly budget limit. If you'd like, you can immediately start entering receipt data.
A popular way to get expense data into IQBoxy Prime is by taking photos of receipts. This method shows off one of IQBoxy Prime's most impressive features: the implementation of OCR technology. You activate it by clicking the +Collect icon, which opens the Photo option. Then you click the Light and Receipt Detect icons, hold your iPhone directly above a paper receipt until the green shadowed rectangle—the cropping tool—covers all of the pertinent receipt data, and click the big blue icon to snap the photo. IQBoxy Prime either suggests you try again, or let you accept the photo by clicking Done. If your hand-eye coordination is good, you may master this quickly. I didn't.
You can quickly view your receipt by clicking the Documents icon and selecting it from the list. The receipt image displays at the top of this screen. Below it, you'll find the vendor, total, tax, tip, and payment type pulled from the receipt and entered it in the correct fields, along with the date and time the photo was taken. You can document the transaction further by tagging it, adding notes and SKU line items, and earmarking it as reimbursable. IQBoxy Prime gives you lots of options.
There are three other options on the +Collect page besides snapping a photo. You can upload an existing receipt from your iPhone's image gallery, dictate the necessary details aloud, or enter text. IQBoxy's OCR technology filled in the receipt data as it did with the photos I took, and all methods worked for me.
You can also email receipts to your unique email address or send the paper copies to IQBoxy, where they'll be entered for you (this method is still in a limited trial). Using a process called Reverse Cloud Sync, the app can pull selected stored receipts from storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. And you can view expense data on your Apple Watch, which is a nice touch.
None of the iPhone apps I reviewed here comes close to doing what IQBoxy Prime has done with smartphone technology, considering its OCR capabilities and its integration options.
Dashboard and More
IQBoxy Prime's dashboard is a simple screen that displays a line graph illustrating your receipt totals. As you scroll down, you'll see the actual numbers for today, yesterday, this week, last week, this month, and last month. It's not a real barnburner of a dashboard, but no app in this group makes exceptional use of that important space.
Nor do any apps include multiple reports, but with such limited functionality, this is understandable. IQBoxy, though, offers report views of your receipt data in either the .CSV or .PDF formats. You can customize these by setting the date range, team members (IQBoxy Prime subscribers can share data with associates for an additional cost), and tags. Two types are available: a table that simply lists all of the details for each receipt, and a ledger report that breaks each transaction down into debits, credits, and balances.
IQBoxy Prime can share your expense information with numerous other websites. To work with them, you'd click on More in the lower-right corner and then Connected Apps.
You can export receipt data from IQBoxy to any of four online accounting apps and one desktop product: Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, SAASU, and FreshBooks. I went through the process for QuickBooks Online. I had to enter my QBO login credentials to make the connection, select the correct company, and authorize the connection. Then, I had to designate default values for purchases (purchase account, expense type, and so on). And I had to indicate whether I wanted to upload receipts as bills or as expenses and whether receipts should be auto-loaded or manually selected. I also had to earmark receipts with a "qb" tag.
IQBoxy Prime can also store receipt data in numerous cloud-based storage sites, including Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive, and on two productivity websites, Office 365 and Slack. Each has minimal setup requirements. And you can import receipt data from Shoebox'ed. There are links for PayPal and Uber, but these weren't yet active when I looked at IQBoxy Prime.
You can create helpful Rules on your settings page, which can accelerate the app's transaction categorization process. QuickBooks Self-Employed offers a similar option. You first choose which expenses will be affected by the rule. At this point, your only choices are All Documents, From Place, and Paid With Card.
Then you name the place or enter the last four digits of the credit card and select from the list of tags (whatever you've defined) and predefined categories, such as Office Expenses, Meals and Entertainment, or Stationery & Printing. So, for example, you're telling IQBoxy Prime that every time you record a receipt from Home Depot, it should be tagged for business and categorized as Office Expenses.
Like its competitors, IQBoxy Prime continues to evolve. You can see from some of the grayed-out entries what may be coming next, though it would seem better to simply not include any feature that isn't yet active—it's confusing to users. IQBoxy Prime's made a tremendous start in a relatively short period of time, implementing innovative applications of existing technology. It's a good choice for freelancers who only expect to track receipts from a smartphone app, but want to share that data with other related online solutions. IQBoxy Prime lacks basic features offered by some rival apps, including downloaded bank transactions, estimated tax calculations, and payment processing, but it does what it does thoroughly, creatively, and well.