We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Office software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Bento 4 for iPad review

£2.99 inc VAT

Manufacturer: FileMaker

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The best database app for the tablet PC just got better with Bento 4 for iPad from Filemaker.

Bento 4 for iPad is a significant update to what was already a useful and powerful personal database app for the Apple iPad. A completely redesigned user interface makes it easier to create and add data to your databases with 40 Retina-ready themes. Read more iPad reviews.

Best of all, you’re no longer required to have a Mac version of Bento in order to create sophisticated databases. Bento 4 is a standalone iOS app that is just as capable of creating and managing collections of information as is its desktop counterpart. 

With Bento, FileMaker has always dispensed with the language of databases and Bento 4 is no exception. Databases are called libraries, queries are called collections, and now Filemaker refers to any database you create using Bento 4 as an app. While this may prove frustrating to anyone with real database experience, it’s unlikely that anyone in Bento’s target audience will notice or care.

Bento 4 for iPad: New features

Bento ships with about 25 templates, including everything from exercise logs and recipe books to time billing and donation databases. Each of these templates can be used just as they are, or you can customize them to accomodate your needs. Read more iPad app reviews.

New is a built-in link to Filemaker’s Bento Template Exchange, an online resource from which you can download user-designed templates and templates created by Filemaker.  

Whether you’re creating libraries from scratch or using one of Bento’s template’s, Bento 4 for iPad offers excellent new tools for creating new fields and adding them to your forms. Tap the form editor (a small pencil) while viewing any form and you’ll see a new column appear on the left-hand side of the screen with three headings: View Fields, New Fields, Add Objects.

Tap View Fields and you’ll see a list of the fields available in the current library that don’t yet appear on the form. Tap New Fields and you’ll see a selection of all the field types you can add to your library. Tap Add Objects and you’ll see items that you can add to a form so that they will be the same for every record in your library. 

The brilliance of this new design is immediately evident once you start adding fields to your library. Drag a new field onto a form and Bento will ask you to give it a name and, depending on the type of field you’ve added, change the options for that field type. No longer want a field on a form? All you have to do is drag it off and it will return to the list of fields available within the library. 

While we would still prefer layouts to be a more freeform than present, we found these new form and library creation tools to be better than the previous iOS app and even the Mac app.

Bento offers three options for viewing your data: Form, Table, or Split view, all of which can be presented in full-screen mode.

Bento for iPad 4: Issues

While there’s much to love about Bento 4, there are still some changes needed to be truly great. At the top of that list is printing – there’s still no way to print directly from your iPad. 

Bento’s syncing feature still deletes anything you’ve created on your iPad the first time you sync Bento with your Mac. To make matters worse, you can only email yourself the data in your libraries, not the libraries themselves, so there’s no way to save forms you’ve created. If you have any intention of syncing data between your Mac and iOS device , make sure you sync before you start creating on the iPad. 

We’re not keen on the app’s calculation editor. It uses non-standard editing tools making it difficult to see where your cursor is while editing. There’s no loupe and no other visual feedback until you take your finger off the iPad, which, until we learned how it worked, I found frustrating.

Bento Expert Verdict »

Apple iPad
iOS 5 or later
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 9 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

While we do have some quibbles, none are insurmountable. Bento 4 is a great app for collecting and managing all your personal data, and a significant improvement to what was already the best personal database app for the iPad.

  • Bento for iOS review

    Bento for iOS

    Bento is a pocket-sized database app for your pocket-sized iOS device, or a book-sized database app for your iPad.

  • FileMaker Bento

    Bento does an excellent job of filling the need for creating and managing personal databases.

  • FileMaker Pro 9.0

    FileMaker Pro 9.0

    Serious FileMaker developers, database and network admins, and managers who worry about tying different piles of company data together are going to be the big beneficiaries of major improvements in the latest update to the FileMaker family of products.

  • FileMaker Pro 11 review

    FileMaker Pro 11

    FileMaker Pro 11, the latest update of the venerable database software, improves on version 10 with several more features such as charting, "recurring import" to automatically update a database from an Excel or text file and a "Quick Find" search box.

  • FileMaker Pro 8.5

    FileMaker Pro 8.5

    Pro's ease of use and cross-platform nature seem to have put its rivals out of the running. A new version would need some seriously useful tools to make upgrading worthwhile.

IDG UK Sites

OnePlus 2 / OnePlus Two UK release date, price and specification rumours: When is the OnePlus 2...

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Ben & Holly's Game of Thrones titles spoof is delightfully silly

IDG UK Sites

Mac OS X 10.11 release date rumours: all the new features expected in Yosemite successor