Mobile databases: they're a good thing, as Martha might say. Back when Palm ruled the handheld space and HanDBase was the king of the data portability castle, it might have been hard to imagine the iPhone/iPad world of today -- but the challenge of taking your data with you on the road is still just as present now as it was a decade ago.
For Mac users, and a hearty helping of Windows users too, the database of choice for small to medium business and home use is FileMaker. Although there's already a third-party mobility solution for FileMaker DBs and the iDevices (via the US$9.99 FMTouch application and development suite), the notion of FileMaker on the move gets a big authenticity boost today as the Apple subsidiary announces FileMaker Go for the iPhone and iPad.
The two separate applications ($19.99 for the iPhone/iPod touch version, $39.99 for the iPad version) don't allow the creation of new databases -- you'll need FileMaker 7 or higher for Mac or Windows to tackle that. Once your databases are created, however, you can access them remotely over WiFi or 3G (given the proper networking configuration for your server, or a hosted FM provider) and update records, search and browse on the fly.
You can also operate in fully mobile mode, with a copy of your database sent via iTunes, email, Dropbox, box.net, etc. and stored in its entirety on the iDevice. While there's no record-level sync built into the product that would allow you to 'rejoin' a database to its parent once it's been on the road, FileMaker VP Ryan Rosenberg told us that there are script-based sync solutions available from FileMaker's developer network if you have to reconcile detached DBs back into a master file.
We'll be diving into these apps with gusto once they are available on the App Store later today. The potential for mobile recordkeeping, audit and customer service applications built on top of FileMaker and the iPad is huge -- can't wait to see what some of the experienced FileMaker development folk can do with this new capability.