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The Future of Data: Go Mobile

iPad, iPhone

Integrate the iPad or iPhone with FileMaker Go

FileMaker Go is now free! Use FileMaker Go on the iPad and iPhone to create or extend your FileMaker solution and discover a world of mobile possibilities.

You might remember early mobile phones. They were as large and heavy as a brick. In fact, you probably could have used one as a weapon. One of the first mobile phones, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, retailed in 1983 for $3995.  Nowadays we have smartphones costing only hundreds of dollars, running apps which do a dazzling array of things besides make phone calls (which we don’t even want to do anymore, it seems).

Powerful, targeted and efficient

All this mobile computing power has opened up a major opportunity to use these devices in a way that’s more useful in business. As one of the most popular tablets, the iPad especially has the ability to collect and display information like never before.

The more ubiquitous iPhone also has a lot of potential as a business tool. With a smaller screen, it’s suited to structured, highly targeted applications.

FileMaker Go to the rescue

Using mobile devices to manage business data used to be an expensive, arduous process. Now, you can build your own application for iPad or iPhone that integrates with your existing FileMaker Pro data. FileMaker Go is the app that runs FileMaker on iOS, and it’s now free!

You get FileMaker’s legendary ease of use and rapid development, wherever and whenever you need it, on as many iPads or iPhones you want. Anywhere you might have used a clipboard and a form, you can use FileMaker Go instead. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.

In store

For example, we’ve created a FileMaker Go app for iPad that designers use to evaluate finished package designs once they’re on the shelf. Users fill out a form on the iPad right in the store, using mostly pre-formatted checkboxes to limit the amount of actual typing required. They can also take photos of the product with the built-in camera. When they get back to the office, they upload that information to the main database right from FileMaker Go.

Office staff use this audit information to evaluate how effective their products are once they are on-shelf, to identify problems, and also to recognize outstanding products. This was previously done with paper forms, which were trashed once designers had reviewed the results among themselves. The data was never formally recorded, because transcribing it was too difficult.

In the warehouse

Another client asked us to develop an iPad module for their distribution warehouse. Previously, workers received a stack of packing slips, picked the orders, and then, at the end of the day, used their desktop computer to indicate which orders were ready in the main office FileMaker system. Front office staff would have to wait until the start of the next day to see what was ready from the day before.

Now, with the iPad and FileMaker Go, warehouse staff instead see open orders on the iPad, then mark them complete in real time. As you can imagine, this makes checking on the status of an order very easy, accurate, and efficient.

Caveats, limitations, and provisos

There are some limitations, of course. Sometimes 3G networks and wireless are shaky. There are fingers instead of mice, and typing is more difficult. And designing for mobile is different from designing for desktop from an interface and workflow perspective.

It’s important to understand the potential usability issues of a mobile environment and design around them. If you have a mature FileMaker workflow system, a FileMaker Go solution is probably not going to replace it. But with some strategic planning, in the right situation it can be extremely powerful and useful.

Go, go, go!

There are so many cool things you can do with FileMaker Go, we’re really excited about the possibilities. Once you start thinking about it, you can probably come up with one or two uses in your own organization.

Here are 50 uses for FileMaker on iOS, including customer stories and videos, courtesy of FileMaker.com.

Do you have an awesome new use for FileMaker Go? Let us know!

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