This app does the impossible: it makes databases cool. When the Mac version of FileMaker's personal database launched in 2008, it felt like the missing module to Apple's iWork suite. Slick, pretty and easy to use, it came prepopulated with a bunch of useful, real-world templates.
Now there's an iPhone version, and it's just as lovely. It too has ready-built templates – a recipe book, event planning, expenses and more – though you can build your own.
There's support for lots of field types – multiple choice, ratings, dates, times, durations and more, though some advanced data types, most notably calculations, require Bento for Mac as well (see here for more information). It all feels very iPhone-like. You can choose which fields are visible and sortable in the list view, and adding records is a cinch.
Creating databases from scratch on the iPhone can be fiddly, and it did crash on us a few times. But here's the magic: it syncs beautifully over WiFi with the £25 Mac version, so you can set up full, rich databases on the Mac and then simply sync them to your iPhone or iPod touch. (We could have used a little more handholding to lay out the form on the Mac after syncing an iPhone-created database, mind; in fact in general, you may struggle with a lack of help.)
Still, this is a great little database with room to grow. There's no interaction with iCal at the moment, though it reads your address book live – and the single-user Bento model means even small workgroups need to look to the full, scary FileMaker range. But, its ease of use and ability to sync wirelessly with Bento for Mac mark it out as little short of a triumph.
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