Billings Pro Supports Multitasking on iPad

Product Updates / September 16, 2015 / Kristie

We are super excited to release Billings Pro for iPad with multitasking support for iOS 9. Now you can use Billings Pro on your iPad at the same time as you’re working in another app. This is a free release for Billings Pro customers. Check out the video below to see it in action.

When we first saw multitasking for iPad at WWDC, we thought it was exactly the extra punch that the iPad needed. It’s the change we’ve been waiting for – the kind of change that will make the iPad more productive for people. We knew it was a big deal and we needed to get behind it.

After watching Apple’s keynote and being introduced to the iPad Pro (the size, the CPU/GPU power), all of a sudden the implications of multitasking became crystal clear. On the desktop, a lot of people use more than one app at a time, usually side-by-side or slightly offset. For a lot of instances in our day-to-day workflows, this is necessary because we need to compare information or jump between doing two things at once.

Multitasking on the iPad is more than just a cool new feature – it’s going to change the way people work entirely. In Apple’s keynote on September 9th, Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, explained how Apple is focusing on making the iPad even more functional and productive for business and everyday life.

“iPad Pro enables tools and interactions that just haven’t been possible before. iPad continues to transform the way we do things. Our goal in designing iPad Pro was to engineer a device that allows you to be more productive…at an entirely new scale.” – Jony Ive

Now with multitasking available on the iPad, you have the ability to do more, without the distractions of more than two apps. With Slide Over you can quickly pull up Billings Pro and switch between timers, edit slip comments, or add a payment without taking your focus away from your work. With Split View you can use Billings Pro and another app side-by-side to create an estimate from scratch while reviewing the project specs from a client email. This new feature gives a number of possibilities to speed up your workflow without having to run to your Mac.




Designing Billings Pro For Multitasking Support

In order for Billings Pro on the iPad to support multitasking, we had to design a “compact mode” where the app still works in a fraction of the screen space. At most, this is half of the iPad screen and at the smallest, it’s essentially the width of the iPhone. Normally, you would just use the iPhone design for this compact mode, however, with Billings Pro, the iPhone and iPad screens are very different.

4. ipad and iphone home

Switching from full screen with the usual iPad design to a smaller screen with the iPhone design would be quite jarring. So we had to decide – do we bring more of the iPhone design to the larger size? Or stick with the iPad design and figure out a way to make it work in compact mode?

After a lot of back and forth on the idea and reviewing customer feedback, we decided the best route to take was to keep the main iPad design principles and figure out the best way to make it work within the tight space. The iPad design is more fully-featured. The interface has more raw functionality that the iPhone interface doesn’t have. For example, the ability to create an invoice or estimate from scratch while manipulating the invoice directly, and the ability to slice your info to view it by project, client, invoice, and by estimate. The challenge then was creating this compact mode where at any point in the app, you could seamlessly switch back to full screen mode.

Adjusting The Home Screen

We made a few tweaks to the Home Screen so that whether you’re in full screen or in compact mode, you can see the same information and jump where you need to in the app. Instead of stacking invoices, estimates, etc. to make them all fit, we added horizontal scrolling for each section. We then added the ability to tap on each section header to jump and view all (so you don’t have to scroll all the way to the end to view “All Invoices”, “All Clients”, etc.) We also brought the summary info (total number of projects, number of overdue clients, etc.) just above each section so you can still see that information while scrolling through each section.


5 tap to view all


Choosing The Best Option For Navigation

When in compact mode you’re working in such a narrow space that it doesn’t make sense to keep the sidebar. It takes up too much prime real estate. Some designers opt for a hamburger to solve this problem, but we’ve never liked the hamburger menu so we had to find a new solution. (We’re not talking about a delicious burger fresh off the grill. In this case, we’re talking about those 3 lines in the top corner of an app that you tap to reveal more options). The problem with the hamburger is that people don’t use them. There is a lot of evidence on why this is a poor design choice including a post on TechCrunch titled Kill The Hamburger Button, which explains that it causes a poor user experience because the options are hidden to the user. So we decided to move the most used options to the bottom of the app and put the rest at the top. This way you have more width to work with, and you can still access your options right away to do things like start a new timer or create a new slip.


extra top+bottom menu bar


Invoicing & Creating Estimates On The Fly

One of the best features of Billings Pro on the iPad is that you can create an invoice and estimate in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) fashion. Instead of entering data and then pushing a button to see the final product, you’re actually creating the invoice or estimate live so you’re able to see the final product every step of the way. The only problem is in a tiny space, the buttons to “add a client” or “add a slip” become too small to use. To keep this functionality, we created an overlay table where you have full control over the content, while seeing the final product. You can scroll through the table to adjust the line items, and pinch to zoom in on the actual invoice or estimate.


2. estimate_spacegrey


Influencing The iPhone Interface

The design changes made to the iPad interface will definitely influence future releases of Billings Pro on the iPhone. But this won’t happen over night. Our Billings team has been working at lightning speed on the recent releases (Apple Watch, estimates on the iPhone and iPad, and now Multitasking on the iPad), so we don’t want to jump the gun and revamp the iPhone interface quite yet. We’ll be observing the changes and feedback before deciding the best action to take.

We hope you enjoy and take full advantage of this new feature on the iPad. We truly believe that this will change the way people work and improve productivity.

Visit the App Store to get it now. This feature is only available on iPads with iOS 9 that support multitasking. Slide Over is supported by iPad Pro, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air, and iPad Air 2. Split View is supported by iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4.

Join 38,877 subscribers making clients happy and growing their business.