Tim Corke

Tim Corke is the resident application reviewer for Mobile Business Magazine. Tim is marketing director and co-founder of Tracktech, a B2B communications company and software development specialist. He is currently focused on Tracktech’s award-winning, Mastercardcertified BlackBerry software, eMERIT, which allows credit card processing on a single device. Tracktech is Tim’s third start up company.

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Which box to tick for smartphone addiction: Geek or Chic?

I am not ashamed to admit that I can simply no longer run my life without my smartphone. I use it for absolutely everything in my personal and professional life. I occasionally argue within myself whether or not this is a really rather sad situation to be in, but whether the geek or chic side of my personality wins that argument, it remains a fact of my life and I know I am not alone.

With this in mind, I am sure there are thousands of other people out there who are in a similar situation and would appreciate any help that they can get to organise all the elements of their busy lifestyles that are channelled through their smartphone.

Personal database

FileMaker recently unveiled Bento for iPhone and iPod touch, a portable version of the popular personal database that’s as easy to use as these smartphones themselves. Filemaker has quite a pedigree with its FileMaker Pro, recording sales in the millions and the software winning 52 awards from 2003 to 2009 in America, and a total of 134 awards worldwide during this time.

With Bento, it’s very easy to organise all the details of a busy life from one iPhone application. The 25 built in templates that come as standard within Bento allow the user to easily address their business and personal lives from within the application. Businesses are catered for my managing Issue Tracking, Time Billing, Customers, Expenses, Products for Sale, Inventory, Projects, Event Planning, Items Sold and Equipment.

Expanding this in to the user’s personal life, Bento takes care of Contacts, To Dos, Diet Log, Expenses, Classes, Recipes, Digital Media, Vehicle Maintenance, Projects, Home Inventory, Event Planning, Membership Lists, Notes and Donations.

Geek time

If you’re looking at the list above and thinking, “OK, sounds good, but what about…?”, then you’ll be pleased to know that a blank template is included as standard for creating an unlimited number of customised templates to suit anything and everything that you might do in your life.

Filemaker claims that this is way more than a bare-bones database or some kind of advanced ‘to-do’ list; it isn’t even intended to be a replacement for the standard iPhone Contacts. Bento links together your contacts and keeps track of anything from business related sales, to digital media and recipes. A user can keep client information to hand, organise their birthday party, and still make all changes directly on their device which are then wirelessly synced with their desktop software.

User collections of records in any library are created, much like a playlists in iTunes. If, for example, a user has a library of digital photos in Bento on their Mac, they can create organised collections that store landscapes, animals or architecture favourites. Extending that, a library of tasks can be used to create collections that store work, personal and volunteer tasks.

Chic time

So many applications are set up to run as a completely standalone entity on a variety of smartphones, but I personally believe that the demand from users is increasing all the time towards the fact that they want applications to interact more seamlessly with standard device functionality. This is one of the things I like about Bento because you can tap to call a contact, view a website, send an email or display a map, all while in a Bento library or collection, and this creates a truly integrated experience

Bento can be used as a standalone application with the iPhone and iPod touch, but it can also be synchronised wirelessly with the full blown software, Bento for Mac. The synchronisation allows users to automatically keep their desktop and mobile versions up to date, whether information is edited on the Mac or the mobile device.

The long and short of it is, if you’re looking for a way to bring your whole life into some form of highly organised chaos, then this app can definitely help push you in the right direction.

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