Yodlee (Wikipedia), the pioneer of personal financial management software - the one that used to power Mint.com and still powers hundreds of large banking sites - released a long-awaited Android app for its own MoneyCenter service today. I've been a Yodlee user for many years, and when I saw it released to the Market a few hours ago, I didn't hesitate a moment and immediately bought it.

If you haven't heard about personal financial management, and Yodlee in particular, it is an online aggregator of financial accounts that uses your logins to banks, credit cards, rewards, airlines, mortgages, and so on, and combines them all into one easy to read, search, and navigate location on the web that automatically updates behind the scenes. For people with many accounts, it's simply a life saver (of course, the downside is you're leaving it all to a single password, so make your Yodlee credentials are unique and very secure).

While the service is being offered for free, the Android app costs $3.99, which is a small price to pay for such convenience. The app offers access to accounts, balances, transaction histories, investments, charts, expense analysis, budget by category, and bills. What else could I be asking for, right? Pure heaven! And yet I refunded the MoneyCenter after using it for about 10 minutes. Pure heaven not so much.

I suspected things were going to go south from the very first screen - the login page. Instead of creating a native login mechanism, Yodlee opted in to kick you to their standard multi-step login in an embedded webview. After entering the username, the answer to the secret question, checking the checkbox to remember me, and entering my password, I was finally in. A one-time inconvenience that one could understand, right? Not so - leave the app (even without logging out), and you have to go through the whole thing all over again, including the username, the secret question, and the dreaded checkbox (to be clear, I'm not complaining about entering my password). Sigh.

image image image

Once inside the app, everything feels extremely crude and half-assed. More than that even - sure, there are lists of transactions and search, but the UI is so bad that I might as well be using the main site (and even then the legacy version, as the new one is done in pure Flash and is just horrid). There is also no way to trigger a refresh of the data on the server side or do much of anything at all outside of adding an account to your favorites and giving it a nickname. The Settings dialog only lets you select a Start page and leaves much to be desired (for starters, how about a setting to remember my username and device, and only prompt me for a password before I pull all my remaining hair out?).

In the end, the Yodlee MoneyCenter is a glorified spreadsheet of your account info, with an awfully unpolished UI and a login process so cumbersome that I don't see myself ever opening up the app again. And that's unfortunate - I really wanted to like it because Yodlee is one of my top 10 favorite online services.

Back to the drawing board, guys. Hint: start by hiring another developer (I've got $10 saying they outsourced it).

image image image