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New Bento 4 for iPad adds design tools for customizing database solutions

It's a bit hard to believe that Apple software subsidiary FileMaker has been marketing Bento for more than four years now. The Mac version of the personal database debuted in early 2008, and separate iPhone and iPad versions can be had on the iOS App Store. Today the company is jumping the iPad build from version 1.15 all the way to version 4, with new features to let users customize their libraries entirely on the iPad. Bento 4 for iPad is a completely new app, so it's an additional purchase for existing customers rather than a free update -- but it's only $4.99 through the end of July.

Bento 4 for iPad still syncs with Bento for Mac (version 4.1, also out today) for loading libraries and collections, but the enhanced library design tools in the iPad version mean that plenty of users will be able to execute their projects, start to finish, on the iPad alone. Bento's Template Exchange is now directly accessible in the iPad app, so it's easy to download and work with a pre-configured solution that someone else has uploaded to the exchange. The exchange lists almost 600 templates in English and that many more in several other languages, covering organizational tasks from Action Figures to Wine.

Whether you start with a basic template or a fully customized one, the onboard design tools now allow you to create fields, reformat views and generally do all the setup tasks you'd have to do on the desktop with previous versions. In the prerelease demo I saw, the editing tools were fairly intuitive -- drag fields to locate them, tap to rename, etc. I expect there'll be a how-to video showing up on FileMaker's site in short order. You can also retheme your library from Bento's collection of color schemes, backgrounds and so on.

Bento 4 also adds new views (Table, Split & Full Screen) and new field types including an encrypted field for sensitive information like account numbers, patient notes or passwords. Bento 4 for iPad is available today in the App Store for $4.99, going up to $9.99 in August. Bento 4.1 for Mac is a free update for existing users of 4.0 and is available at a special price of $29.99 through August.



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Software iPad

Bento's Template Exchange is now directly accessible in the iPad app, so it's easy to download and work with a pre-configured solution