Mobility

Better mobile organization with Airtable

If you're looking to up your mobile organization, Jack Wallen believes the key begins and ends with a database tool called Airtable.

airtablehero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

Sometimes we all need a little help with organization. Our lives can get out of hand without that help. And as IT pros, we all know the value of a database. They keep our data collected and organized, as well as make it easy to retrieve. But when you're on the go, and you need that level of organization, where do you turn? Why not Airtable? With Airtable you'll find an app (available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android) that allows you to create databases on either your mobile device or via a web browser, add tables and data to those databases, sort and filter, and even collaborate or share out your databases.

Of all the organizational tools I've used on a mobile device, Airtable is, by far, the superior app. You can sign up for a free account (unlimited databases, 1,200 records per db, and 2B attachment space per db) or opt for one of the paid plans (find out more about each plan here).

What's best about Airtable, is that they've made the process of building your unique databases incredibly simple. From either the web site or the mobile app, Airtable has completely demystified the database such that any user can immediately get up to speed with the platform.

Let's install Airtable on Android and create our first database.

Installation

Installing Airtable is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for Airtable
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Airtable
  4. Tap Install
  5. If prompted, tap Accept
  6. Allow the installation to complete

Once the installation is finished, you'll find an icon for the app on your home screen and/or in your App Drawer. Tap the launcher and Airtable will open to a simple welcome screen. Tap the screen to begin and you will be presented with a quick video to watch. You can either view the introductory video or tap to Skip. At this point you will be asked to create an account (the account you create here is free) or sign in with Google. Take care of this step and then you'll be prompted to select three interests (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Initial Airtable setup on the OnePlus 3.

These "interests" you select create your initial databases. Chances are you'll simply delete these databases, but you have no choice but to create them.

With your choices made, you're ready to begin using Airtable.

Usage

From the main window (Figure B), tap the New Base button to begin the process of creating a new database.

Figure B

Figure B

The Airtable main window.

At this point you can either select from the template gallery (Figure C) or tap Create a new empty base.

Figure C

Figure C


Selecting a template for your base.

Let's go with an empty database. Tap to create an empty base, give the base a name, tap OK. As soon as you've named the base, you will be prompted to add to the new table. Tap the + button and then fill out the information for the new table record (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Creating a new table record for your base.

Enter the basic information for the record and then, if necessary, create a Custom field for your record. To do this, tap the Customize fields button and then tap Add a new field. In the Edit field window (Figure E), give the field a name, tap the Field type entry and select from the sixteen different types of available fields), and tap Save.

Figure E

Figure E

Adding a new field to your record.

When you complete the addition of the custom fields, tap the back button and then finish entering data for that initial entry. At this point, all the records for this base will include your custom fields and you can start adding record after record. You can start adding as many records as you want and even (at any time) go back into a record and add more custom fields.

Web vs. mobile

I will say that I've found it much more efficient creating new databases on the web version of Airtable. Not because the mobile app isn't user friendly — it is, incredibly so. For me, it's a matter of using a standard mouse/keyboard interface over that of the mobile iteration. I can enter data much more quickly on a regular keyboard. Once I have the database set up and initially populated, I can then easily start working with it from within the mobile version.

An ideal mobile database

If you're looking for one of the easiest and hands-down best mobile database apps on the market, look no further than Airtable. With a shallow learning curve, an easy to use interface, and plenty of features to appease even the power users, Airtable will please anyone needing to organize their life with the help of a mobile database.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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