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.
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.
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.
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.