by James A. Martin

FileMaker Go: Database Magic on Your iPhone, iPad

Apr 18, 20122 mins

The latest version of FileMaker Go for iOS devices, coupled with the associated desktop software, puts a whole lot of database power in mobile users' hands. And the new iOS apps for iPhone and iPad are free.

FileMaker, a database program, has been around in one form or another for nearly as long as the PC. But you’d never know that based on its latest incarnations: FileMaker Pro 12 and the FileMaker Go 12 iOS apps.

The FileMaker Pro 12 software for Windows and Mac, which starts at $299, lets you create databases that look great on iPhone and iPad screens. The application includes 16 new “Starter” templates for different types of databases. And each of these templates includes screens that are optimized for display when opened using FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone or FileMaker Go 12 for iPad. (The iPad and iPhone apps are different but share the same functionality.)

Unlike previous iOS versions, the current FileMaker apps (12.0.2) are free. FileMaker users will find a lot to like in Go 12 for iOS. You can record audio or video directly from your iOS device and add it to a database entry-container field, then play that media using the app. This could be useful for showing off a product in a product database, for instance.

FileMaker Go 12 also lets you export data in formats such as Excel, CSV, and HTML. The apps connect wirelessly to databases hosted on FileMaker Server 12 or FileMaker Pro 12. To get FileMaker databases on your iOS device, you can email them to yourself or use the File Sharing option in iTunes.

Unfortunately, you must use the desktop FileMaker Pro software to create a new database. Importing data from other file formats into FileMaker to build new databases can sometimes be a chore, too, such as when you export Google contacts into a FileMaker Pro database.

For small businesses and individuals, FileMaker is probably overkill. FileMaker’s Bento ($10), a personal database that’s a stand-alone iPad app and a $49 Mac program, may be a better option. Still, FileMaker Go 12 makes iPhones and iPads even more BYOD-worthy for enterprise users.