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Summary:

The release of Bento 4 was, according to Product Manager Ryan Griggs, driven primarily by customer requests. Bento 4 is more usable and polished in a number of small ways that make it much more enjoyable to use, and a lot more productive in certain situations.

bento-feature

The release of Bento 4 for Mac was, according to Product Manager Ryan Griggs, driven primarily by customer requests. Bento 4 is more usable and polished in a number of small ways that make it much more enjoyable to use, and a lot more productive in certain situations.

iCal Tasks On Your iPhone!

While users of Bento will want to check the list of features added in this release, I would like to address one feature right from the top that might appeal to someone who has so far avoided the program. This latest release includes the ability to sync with iCal Tasks, just like it currently syncs with iCal appointment calendars and Address Book contacts. Bento is now a much more complete project management solution which can incorporate your contacts, calendar and tasks in one place and extend it with additional information.

Even better, Bento for Mac will then sync this data with Bento for iPhone or iPad, making Bento 4 one of the few ways to bring iCal Tasks over to your mobile iOS device. Because there is no native task app for iPhone, Bento 4 represents the cleanest and simplest way that I know of to bring your iCal tasks to the iPhone and is a good solution for those that might not need the full power of something like OmniFocus or Things.
Track Projects with Bento

Printing

Printing has been improved significantly. Label printing is a new feature that Griggs suggested was the most requested addition from users. 250 Avery and Dymo label templates are built-in, and you can create custom label sizes and incorporate database fields and images into your designs. You can also specify print-friendly layouts to optimize your forms for both data entry on screen and for printing on paper or to PDF.

Sharing

A unique feature of Bento is the Template Exchange, where users can share the templates they design with each other. The Template Exchange now has over 800 templates that have been downloaded a collective 650,000 times. The Exchange should  continue to grow even faster now that you can share your template directly from within the Bento application.

You can also export a template with data in it to share with someone else. This makes it simpler to put together a Bento database and just send that piece to someone else to use with the data already in it.

Form Enhancements

The Simple Lists feature has been enhanced with more spreadsheet-like features. You can add summary rows, and perform simple calculations in a list.

While the easy form editing has been retained, you can also choose to lock a form to keep from accidentally moving elements around.

New Features for iPhone and iPad

Bento for iPhone and iPad have been updated to sync with Bento 4 for Mac and support iCal Tasks. All three also support the new location field feature, which lets you capture your current GPS coordinates and store them in a data field. On the Mac, this feature relies exclusively on Wi-Fi positioning, while it can use GPS if present on the iPhone or iPad. Another new field type is the Voice Memo. You can record your voice directly into media field.

You can imagine new uses for these fields where you might take voice notes when scouting real estate and record the GPS location. Or you might interview subjects for a study and capture the location of the interview as well. Or take notes on a photo shoot and insert the GPS coordinates. It’s a nice addition that provides some additional flexibility for certain users.

Pricing and Availability

Bento 4 is available in the Mac App Store and at retail outlets. The new version costs $49, with a family pack of five licenses available for $99. If you use an earlier version of Bento, you’re eligible for a $20 rebate when you upgrade.

The new versions of Bento for iPhone and Bento for iPad are free upgrades for existing users. The apps cost $5 and are available in the iTunes App Store.

  1. After 18 months struggling to get Bento to work properly I’m *very* dubious about version 4.

    I’ll give one example: The calendar has no calendar view.
    Yes, you read that right, no calendar view. Imagine your iCal events listed in a big long spreadsheet or as hundreds of images (that you can’t read) with no ability to sort.
    When I asked about this they said they’d submit the suggestion for review.
    Submit it for review???

    Also, you cannot set an event with an alarm in Bento. So you have to go to iCal to do that, but if you do so you will have to take the extra (5) steps to then import the event into Bento, it does not update automatically.
    There are literally hundreds of similarly mind-numbing quirks that makes you wonder if anyone at Filemaker ever actually tried to use Bento. Everything in Bento must be manually imported, making organizing even basic things slow and tiresome. Emails can be viewed but again, not synced.

    Notice that the reviewer, Weldon Dodd, never says he used Bento to actually do anything useful? No reviewer has.

    While Bento is fabulous concept, I recommend you avoid it.

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  2. @NeilAsh – Bento isn’t meant to replace iCal, just work with it so you can link calendar events to other data in Bento. If you want a proper calendar view of your events, use iCal.

    I’m not sure what you mean by manually importing iCal events into Bento. All my events and tasks from iCal and all my contacts from Address Book are automatically visible in Bento and available to link to other records.

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  3. Seems like a great app!

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  4. Brendon Dellar Saturday, March 19, 2011

    There are some quirks with Bento, but it has evolved into a useful product. Version 1 of Bento was almost useless and versions 2 and 3 were significant improvements. I haven’t noticed a huge difference between version 3 and 4, but the printing options are a step forward. Some quirks are fixed – For example, adding extra fields to address book through bento (like Doctors Name) does not sync with the iPad/iPhone version of Bento (they just appear as blank fields). Also, don’t use Address Book notes through Bento when subscribed to MobileMe. Strange things can happen and I’ve seen notes delete in front of my eyes during a MobileMe sync.

    For basic tasks it is a useful little app to have. Version 4 seems much quicker than previous versions too.

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  5. cogitoergomac Sunday, March 20, 2011

    I have been very happy with this upgrade. Of course, I was pretty pleased with Bento 3 also. Label printing is great.

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  6. @NeilAsh

    I also emailed about a calendar view after 3 was released. It is extremely odd that they have still not found a solution. Bento is worthless to me without it.

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  7. I have had not joy in really getting to grips with Bento 3. There seems to be place eg Filemaker/Apple that can help with learning all that Bento 3. All tutorial are an overview and i’ve wasted ends hours reading and searching for help on this Software.
    There should be step by step video tutorial on EVERYthing thats possible to acheive and someone who knows Bento when you book a one to one at the Apple store and a human support at Filemaker!

    I will not be buying version 4 until I can see and find a great support in using Bento 3. it seems that filemaker and apple are just to make money on and idea that doesn’t follow through!

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