Last weekend, I found myself in need of a database app for a video game I’m playing, and so I did what I always do and made one in Tasker. It works perfectly, but the need for syncing capabilities with other people who I would also have had to customize the app for made me go look for commercial alternatives. I came across Memento Database, and while I have had to give up some features that only a custom made app could really do, I’ve been so impressed with Memento that I started using it instead.
Memento is an app that allows you to create any kind of database. It’s built around the concept of libraries, which are self contained databases you can create. Each database is built around a template for how the internals work, and you can either use included templates, browse an online database of user created templates, or make your own from scratch.
Should you choose the latter, or want to customize the templates you find elsewhere, you can do that using an impressive array of options. You choose what fields are used in the database, with 19 available field types ranging from map coordinates, to text input, to pre-defined options. Advanced fields like barcode input and file attachments are also available. You can also choose how these fields are displayed in the final database by changing what the field function is, you can assign default values, decide if a field is mandatory, and so on.
There is also a function feature that allows you to do simple math functions using your fields, which is useful for any type of database that has numerical values. A feature I’m particularly fond of is the field dependency feature, which is a way to link fields together in intelligent ways. This allows you to do things like limit what options are visible for one field based on the value of another (which can be used to create sub-categories, among other things), or make a range of new fields appear if you select “yes” on a previous field (which can be used for things like creating an advanced entry mode).
Using the above options, you can basically create databases for something completely obscure and still have the end result look like the app is made for that specific function. That makes this a very powerful app, and I plan on using it for more things in the future.
I do however feel that the wide range of options have spread the developer a bit too thin in some places, resulting in some features lacking that are obvious if you focus only on that specific section of the app. For instance, adding a list of selectable options has to be done manually, and takes forever. If you then have to rearrange them, the lack of a simple drag and drop option makes it a real pain to use with long lists, as you have to find the “up” option in a menu 50 times to actually move it up 50 slots. Then if you go to create a dependency using that same field, the lack of “select all” and “select none” options means you’ll be tapping holes in your screen by the time you’re done organizing everything. Minor issues like these are present all throughout the app, and it makes the app feel a lot more sluggish and backwards than it really is.
Where Memento really shines is with sync options. Aside from a backup system, you can also sync your libraries to Google Docs, as well as to Memento’s own online cloud. The latter method has an option to let others subscribe to your libraries, which is a system that works well.
Finally, the somewhat random organization of features can often be a problem in this app. If you click the refresh button on the main library overview of the app, it will sync you own libraries with Google. If you scroll over to the subscriptions tab, the same button will be there, and it will still only sync your libraries, and not (as one would assume) sync subscriptions. Instead, you have to head into a subscribed library to do that.
Furthermore, you can set up syncing with Memento and Google from the library page, but sharing a template is a almost hidden button in the top right corner of the template editing screen. Adding a home screen shortcut to a library is possible, but not through the normal Android shortcut menu like every other app out there, but instead from within Memento. Adding a direct link to the barcode scanner doesn’t seem possible at all, and there are no widgets.
All of these unusual ways of doing things and unusual places of putting options have left with very open to the possibility that something I write here is completely wrong, because I simply haven’t found the right sub menu of the section of the part of the app that you get to if…well you get my point. This is a common problem with advanced apps that are heavily based on customization, and while it’s not really the biggest problem in the world, it does make the app less intuitive than I think many Android users could deal with.
All in all though, I’m very satisfied with Memento. The customization aspect of it is just awesome, and while it has some quirks here and there, using it has left me with the feeling that I just found an app that will become a major part of the way I use my phone in the time to come. Best of all, the $10 upgrade to the pro version is not needed for the vast majority of functionality in the app, so you can take all the time you need to decide if the app is worth money to you. To me, it definitely is.
Download: Google Play