If you’re a Mac user who has searched for a user-friendly personal database application, no doubt you’ve come across Filemaker’s Bento. Bento is a great way to keep your personal data organized, and it integrates well with Address Book, iCal and Mail.
This week, Filemaker released Bento for iPhone and iPod Touch, which can function as a standalone application, or sync with the latest version of Bento for the desktop. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of the idea of a database application on a smaller device such as the iPhone, so I decided to test it out for a couple of days to see if it was as usable as advertised.
My first impression was that it’s clear that Filemaker took great care in making Bento for iPhone as iPhone-like as possible. I’d almost say that it’s easier to use than its desktop counterpart. And, while it lacks some of the deeper functionality of the desktop version, what’s included is extremely simple to use.
As I browsed through Bento for iPhone’s default templates, I was delighted to find one for creating a home inventory, something that has been on my mind ever since reading Gary’s experience of losing everything in a fire.
Adding a new inventory item was intuitive, and about as quick as possible given the limitations of the iPhone keyboard. But, adding a photo was much easier than it could ever be on a desktop, because Bento for iPhone integrates core functionality such as the iPhone’s camera. You can also use data from Contacts, iCal, Maps, Mail and Safari. I found that it was faster to add the item name and photo on the iPhone, then sync with the desktop to add other information. I was able to add a few dozen items in a fairly short amount of time, and never encountered any problems syncing data.
Bento for iPhone will appeal to anyone who wants to stay organized and take their data with them. The portability makes it much more convenient for capturing many type of personal data. Whether you want to take your recipe collection with you while you shop, track the foods you eat during the day, or make sure you’re prepared with a home inventory.
Bento for iPhone is currently available for $4.99 through the iTunes App Store. It’s bit more expensive than the typical iPhone App, but for what it does I consider it a bargain.