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Bento 2, FileMaker’s personal database for Leopard Macs ($49, www.filemaker.com/products/bento), pulls data from Address Book, iCal, and Mail, so you can create databases (called Libraries and Collections) for home or small-biz use. Now the iPhone app Bento lets you wirelessly sync your device with all the Bento 2 data on your Mac--setup takes about a minute, and changes are synced almost instantly if your Mac and iPhone are on the same Wi-Fi network. Or you can use Bento as a standalone iPhone app.
The iPhone version has 25 built-in templates (exercise log, home inventory, to-do list, time billing, vehicle maintenance, etc.), and you can roll your own, using text, number, choice, checkbox, time, date, and nine other field types. Calculations are supported, but only if you set them up on the Mac first and sync that library. The app integrates smoothly with your iPhone’s Contacts, Mail, Google Maps, Safari, and it can dial the phone. Finding things is a snap, since an iTunes-style search narrows your results as you type each letter. We ran into a graphical glitch in the List view of our libraries, but the Cover Flow view worked just fine.
As of now you can only sync one iPhone or iTouch to one Bento 2 database at a time, and, of course, Bento 2 databases stay on one Mac--for sharing data between users you’d need to step up to FileMaker Pro. As handy and flexible as Bento is as a completely standalone iPhone app, we predict that its power, easy searches, and promise of speedy and wireless syncing with your Mac will be the siren song that lures swarms of new users to Bento 2.
If you dared us to think of something Bento couldn’t help organize, we’d stare at you blankly, poke at our iPhones to stall a few seconds, and shrug.
COMPANY: FileMaker, Inc.
REQUIREMENTS: iPhone or iPod touch with iPhone 2.1 software or later
Can be used standalone or sync wirelessly to Bento 2 on your Mac. Great design. Super useful and customizable.
Setting up libraries on the phone requires a lot of thumb-typing.