- Tons of features
- Excellent to-do list functionality
- Easy search feature
- Diet and recipe sections are less helpful
- Interface isn't as nice as iPad app
The Bento app (US$4.99) revolves around a variety of templates that help you organize pretty much all aspects of your life. From diet logs to business expenses to to-do lists, Bento covers all the bases.
Interested in organizing your to-do list? Check out our list of the top list apps for the iPhone.
A great way to organize your to-do list
Bento is excellent as a to-do list app. It allows you to create ‘collections’ to organize your tasks, so you can create separate lists for work, home, etc. For each item on your list, you can specify a priority, due date, and notes; you can also assign an item to a specific person or project. This ties in with Bento’s projects tab, where you can set everything from project leaders, budget, priority level, and team members. This collaboration -- between to-do lists and projects, for example -- is what sets Bento apart from other productivity apps.
The Bento app also has a variety of business-friendly features. The inventory template tracks quantities, location, serial numbers, purchase dates, and costs. You can even attach pictures. I’m also a big fan of the expenses template, although I’d like to have the ability to attach scans of receipts. The search feature is also a highlight, since you can find keywords within any of your existing templates.
A few downsides
Some of the templates are less helpful. The diet log, for example, has a lot of promise, but it doesn’t automatically calculate calories for the food you’ve eaten. Specific diet apps like SparkPeople (an app from the developers of SparkRecipes) are a better choice if you want to count calories. The recipes template also lags far behind dedicated recipe apps -- it’s basically an area to add your own recipes, and I’m not sure I would ever feel motivated enough to type out an entire recipe on my iPhone keyboard.
Bento is also available for the iPad, and I have to admit that the interface for the iPhone app is disappointing in comparison. The iPad app is stunning and has numerous nice design touches, whereas the interface on the iPhone app is rather plain and uninspiring. Even though there is less room to work with, I would love to see the iPhone app look just a little more like the iPad version.
The Bottom Line
I’ve heard about Bento for months now, but I never got a chance to check it out. Now I understand firsthand what all the buzz is about. Bento is a full-featured app that can meet a variety of needs for business or personal use. Although some of the templates are a little wimpy -- the diet log and recipes especially -- I would use the Bento app for a variety of productivity and business tasks. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need