Momentum is building for mind mapping apps on the iPad

mind mapping on the iPadSince the Apple iPad officially launched earlier this year, developers have been busy creating mind mapping apps for it. Like me, they view the iPad as a game-changing platform for mobile mind mapping.

Because several of these apps were early in development at the time of the iPad’s launch, I couldn’t talk about them in this blog. They have now been released, which means I can give you a more complete picture of the universe of iPad-capable mind mapping applications. I have divided them into 3 categories:

  • Totally new apps developed specifically for the iPad,
  • iPhone mind mapping apps that have been rewritten to take full advantage of the iPad’s larger screen and user interface improvements (such as popover windows), and
  • Existing iPhone mind mapping apps that seem to play well on the iPad’s larger screen in their native form.

New mind mapping app for iPad

CrowdMap is a new mind mapping application for the iPad that enables you to to real-time map sharing and co-editing with other CrowdMap users. In other words, as your coworkers add content to a shared map, it appears instantly on your iPad. It supports colored branches, drag and drop for rearranging maps topics, panning/zooming, multi-touch gestures and landscape and portrait views. What it doesn’t say is whether or not it supports other important (and in my mind, basic) functionality, such as notes, hyperlinks and icons/symbols.

Desktop mind mapping developer XMind says it has an app under development but no other details have been released.

iPhone mind mapping apps rewritten for the iPad

iThoughtsHD is the iPad version of the popular iThoughts app for the iPhone, one of the best mind mapping apps for this wildly popular platform. Craig Scott, the developer of iThoughts, was the first to aggressively embrace Apple’s larger mobile form factor, as I told you earlier this year. A video on the iThoughtsHD website reveals that this new app contains a lot of valuable functionality in a well-designed package. You can easily add notes to topics, apply topic formatting to child topics, create relationships between topics, align child and sibling topics in a number of ways, and create tasks from topics and monitor their progress. iThoughtsHD makes excellent use of tap menus. A “keep organized” setting ensures that your mind maps are as compact as possible. The app also offers extensive options for exporting (via e-mail, wi-fi transfer and and importing (from Freemind, XMind, Novamind, MindManager, MindView and iMindmap). This looks like the app to beat, based on everything I’ve seen so far.

SimpleMind for the iPad was just released to the Apple AppStore, so there isn’t a lot of information available about it on their website. It appears to offer basic mind mapping functionality. One unique feature is cross-linking, which enables you to link any two topics in your visual maps. Developer SimpleApps has also announced desktop versions of SimpleMind for the Mac and PC, which I wasn’t aware of before. I’ll check them out and let you know what I discover!

MindMeister has been an innovator in the area of web-based mind mapping, and last year released an iPhone version of its popular application that can synchronize with and download maps from your MindMeister account. According to its developer, the iPad version of MindMeister is now undergoing final tests and should be submitted to the AppStore in a few days. Watch for it hopefully in about a week.

iMindMap released an iPhone version of its popular desktop mind mapping software last year, which offered the same organic experience of creating visual maps that adhere to Tony Buzan’s principles of mind mapping. Because you use your finger to create new topics, it’s closer to a hand-drawn mind map than any other app for the iPhone. ThinkBuzan has announced that it is developing an iPad version of iMindMap. Watch for an announcement in the near future about this promising new application.

Existing iPhone app, compatible with iPad

As of release 2.2.1, MindNode (touch), originally developed for the iPhone, is a universal binary application. That means it will work as a native application on the iPad, iPhone and iPad touch, according to developer Markus Müller.

iBlueSky – The developer of this popular, full-featured mind mapping app for the iPhone hasn’t announced any plans to release an iPad version. But according to several people on Twitter, it runs fine on the iPad.



  1. says

    Seavus DropMind™ is developing mind mapping application for iPad and it will be released by the end of the summer. More information, coming soon.

  2. Odm973 says

    I’d like to mention also INSTAVIZ.

    Even if it is more classified as a diagram rather than a mindmap app.

    It adds several very interresting possibilities to the original mindmap concept :
    – several arrows in any direction can join nodes
    – handdrawing and recognizing shapes as nodes
    – autolayout to avoid crossing lines, based on the graphwiz engine

    Personaly I use a lot of mindmap for brainstorming, and for different , my two main tools are ithoughts (iPhone and HD versions) and instaviz (Universal)

    Crowdmap is a very interresting concept but still not needs work and features my taste

  3. Mark says

    As an higher-ed user of Xmind, I’m looking forward to seeing it on the iPad. Combining it with Dropbox would allow me to create extensive maps on my Mac, and then edit and revisit them on my iPad.

    My understanding is that the Xmind team is working on the application as we speak.

    • Chuck Frey says

      Newt, Mindjet hasn’t officially announced anything for the iPad yet. They’ve been focused on launching MindManager 9 for Windows lately. They do have a iPhone app (which looks like it was licensed from iThoughts). I’m not sure how well that plays on the iPad. Some of the mind mapping apps for the iPhone actually do work well in the larger format, but they’re not really optimized to take advantage of its unique user interface advancements.

      I plan to acquire an iPad in the next few weeks and will let you know what I find out.

  4. says

    Hurry up and get that iPad!
    I just installed MindMeister on my iPad–and for the first time tried it online. Interestingly, you can use the standard online version reasonably well in the iPad Safari browser. Unfortunately, in this first iPad iteration, there is no task/project mgmt capability, although you can see–but not edit–everything in mindmaps that you sync from the online version.
    So far, iThoughtsHD is the best iPad iteration, I’ve seen; it does offer easy task mgmt with priorities, due dates, and % complete.
    For both apps you can export to MindManager and with MindMeister you can also import a MindManager map.
    Unfortunately, both have a long way to go before reaching their potential.
    I’m a long-time MindManager user and fan , but I think it has become a bit like MS Office with all kinds of capabilities that an average user like me doesn’t use much if at all. I did test the beta and like it, but probably not enough to spend big bucks to upgrade.
    Moreover, they charge a fortune for their online version even if you have the desktop so I can’t use that.
    Also, it appears that the Mindjet Player interactive PDF has disappeared. I really liked that for sharing with colleagues who hadn’t yet discovered MindMapping.

  5. Carl W-F says

    I think that it is strange that the ‘getting started’ video for iThoughtsHD doesn’t show the presenter using the touch screen…it shows using a mouse and keyboard in an iPad emulator.

    If I’m going to invest in an iPad app, I want to see how it functions with touch inputs…

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