Useful apps for iPad (Part 1) : Bento for iPad & Numbers 1.5 for iPad

4/6/2012 2:43:48 PM

Bento for iPad

Description: Bento for iPad

System requirement: iPad running iOS 4.2 or later, 21MB available memory

Database program Bento has been a firm favourite with Mac users for several years. It’s now available for iPhone and iPod touch, as well as finding a more obvious home on the iPad. Bento presents information in a visual form dispaying thumbnail images of your products rather than just listing them. Using Bento to create digital recipe books is one suggested use.

Dummy project pages pre-populate the Bento app when you first use it, to give you a flavour of how it works and the sort of items you can overwrite these or create new items. We decided to use Bento to log details of craft projects.

Much of te appeal for Mac users is Bento’s seamless synchronization with desktop version of the software. However, even without this, we found plenty to admire. You don’t need more than iPad version to use the note-taking, costing and reminder feature, or to create projects. The fact that we could associate notes, pricing and prompts with our project library meant we felt more in control of those projects and their status.

Bento for iPad automatically presented costed items we entered in sterling, and offered links to resources such as images and our own web store. Adding elements such as an inventory, expenses list or address book involves no more than clicking on the drop down library item list. As well as photos and notes, you can record memos and embed them in your projects.

Bento doesn’t just allow you to file away items and then quickly retrieve them along with a cache of associated information; it can also be used as a real time cataloguing tool. Backup is handled bu iCloud.


For micro businesses that need to keep tabs on stock, this simple database tool is worth the $5 investment.

Numbers 1.5 for iPad


Description: Numbers 1.5 for iPad

System requirement: iPad running iOS 5.0 or later, 109MB available memory

Numbers for iPad is a good alterative to Excel for Mac users not keen on Microsoft Officce. However, it’s a less successful app for Windows users who routinely use Excel. Support for the more advanced features of Microsoft’s spreadsheet tool is not fully realized.

An issue with previous versions of Numbers was that it generated its own spreadsheet format, rather than being able to export as .xls or .xlsx. version 1.5 fixes this, and adds iCloud synchronization and the ability to create folders.

Numbers has some way to go before it can replicate the full desktop spreadsheet charting and formulae crunching experience, though. Hiding and un-hiding cells  isn’t supported, for example; neither is cell or row merge.

Taking these limitations into account, we stuck to creating orginal spreadsheets on our iPad. On the tablet’s generous 9.7in screen, we were able to enjoy fullscreen documents and data set overviews, and switch between landscape and portrait modes at will. These features don’t work on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4/4s versions of Numbers. You can see everything, but as very small text, or only a handful of cells at once.

More importantly, editing and entering data is frustrating using the iPad’s touchscreen; less of a problem if you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard.

Another minor but potentially annoying feature in Numbers on the iPhone and iPod touch is that you can only undo and redo changes by shaking the device; the iPad app has a dedicated toolbar button.


Mac OS X users will get more from Numbers than iPad-owning Windows users. For simple spreadsheet creation on the go, it’s not a bad £6.99 app, but don’t expect to enjoy the full sophistication of Microsoft’s Excel software.

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