Mind mapping on the iPad: A game changer

iThoughts on the iPadLast week, Apple launched its new iPad tablet, to mixed reaction from the press and the public. But a small group of devoted mind mappers sees something that everyone else doesn’t – the larger screen will make the iPad an awesome device for mind mapping!

Craig Scott, the developer of the excellent iThoughts app for the iPhone, recently sent me a message to let me know that he is hard at work developing what should become the first mind mapping application for this promising new computing platform. In his blog on the new iPadMindMap website, Scott says, “I really do believe that it will be game changing – and I hope that iThoughts can be at the forefront of what I believe will be a step change in the adoption of mind mapping.”

Scott has also published two screen shots of iThoughts “on the big screen” – I must say, it does look very impressive seeing a mind map rendered edge to edge on the iPad’s large, rectangular screen. He plans to take advantage of the iPad’s popover views – a new type of dialog box that pops up on a layer “above” your app, complete with a cool 3D effect. He can’t say much more about his plans for this iPad optimized version of iThoughts because he is under NDA (a non-disclosure agreement), but I expect big things from this innovative developer.

I’ve also heard from Raj Dash, a productivity blogger and social media strategist who is an avid mind mapper. He told me recently on Twitter he is “dreaming of mobile mind maps and productivity apps on the iPad.

I think these guys are right. Mind mapping on the iPad could be incredibly cool!

Mind mapping on the iPhone has been great, but one of the biggest drawbacks is that its small screen size limits you to creating fairly simple maps. With much more screen real estate and wireless/3G connectivity, the iPad should be a perfect platform for capturing your ideas, and then sharing them with the world.

I can foresee the iPad becoming a business tool, used to capture notes and mind maps in meetings, or to go off by yourself to a quiet spot to do some brainstorming. This exciting new device comes with a built-in microphone, which means you could capture audio notes and attach them to your mind maps (a native capability in the paid version of XMind).

The iPad may even lead us in some new directions, eventually enabling you to integrate photos you’ve shot on the iPad into your mind maps (there is no camera in the first version of the iPad, but hey – I can dream, can’t I?!). I can envision a photo of a whiteboard and capturing your meeting notes as part of a map, for example.

What possibilities do YOU envision for the intriguing combination of the iPad and mind mapping apps?



  1. says

    You’re right Chuck, this is going to usher in a new age of mind mapping applications. However, I hope that instead of simply producing mind mapping software that we already know, developers start to think of new and innovative ways of making mind mapping work with other features of the iPad.

    This is a big step in computing, it should also be a big step in mind mapping software.

  2. Glen says

    I love the Mindmeister app on my iTouch and I agree that the larger screen of an iPad would be better. Still won’t justify the other draw backs of the iPad for me, especially no camera and no multitasking. Maybe version 2 or 3.

  3. says

    The first thing that came to mind with the ipad for me was “mindmap” because of it’s size, and mobility. especially when travelling/commute.

    The ipad bottom line with thoughtsof mindmaps and those who use them will increase productivity, just imagine all those commuting to work and back. That time in between will add to business productivity. (lets hope.)

  4. says

    I have been mind mapping in ink on the Tablet PC for five years at meetings and when I just want to think fluidly, Using the normal mode of MindManager with pen flicks and immediate ink to text conversion in the TabTip tool in much less fluid and slower.

    At the moment ink wins for me over screen keyboards.

    So can a finger do what a stylus does?

  5. says

    I don’t know much about the IPad, but I do believe that it is a catalyst for something big. I believe that Jobs is using this as a tester to brainstorm and figure where it’s best use will evolve. My imagination takes me to a place where the IPad will become a huge screen. There is where the size comes in. It will be used in the home, perhaps centrally located in the kitchen, being able to control what we are having for dinner (menues) to controlling the heating in the home, as well as order food, receive skype type phonecalls, be able to visually check what baby is doing. It will become our control pad to our everyday life and interaction with life, as well as research. There is so much mark my word that will come from this innovation, Mindmapping will be the tip of the iceberg.

  6. says

    I agree – the iPad will dramatically improve the MM experience. However, I’d really like the option of a stylus to hand-draw maps and text and have the software convert to digital lines/text. The lack of multi-tasking on the iPad will seriously hamper its usefulness as a working tool substitute for a laptop. Hopefully, Apple will update the OS to make it possible very soon.

  7. says

    Chuck, I agree with you the iPad would be ideal for mindmapping. I found that mindmeister and mindjet app on the iPhone do work but the screensize limits your creativity and productivity. An iPad would be ideal. Imagine MindMap on the iPad, drawing with your fingers on the screen. It will be a close as it can gets experience with respect to handdrawn mindmapping… I am curious how it will all will work out. It would be helpfull if one could easily load images from web or laptop on to the iPad to use them in a mindmap.

  8. says

    The greatest app for me with the IPad is going to be to be able to carry it everywhere and take notes any time. Since I prefer taking notes as a mind map I look forward to mind mapping on the IPad and then integrating my notes with mind maps already on my desktop MAC.

    Another application I foresee is to send my audiences a skeleton mind map of a presentation I am giving so they can add their own mind map notes as they listen.

  9. says

    I have used MindManager on a Tablet and on the iPhone but just dontsee the iPad as a break thru. The screen size is a limitation on the phone but the killer difference for the Tablet is ink. Without a pen input and proper ink (as in recognisable handwriting) the iPad has no appeal for me as a content creation device. As a content consumption device it combines the iPhone limitations (esp Flash lack in spite of Apple’s aversion) with too limited portablity. At home I have the iPhone, PC and laptop, on the move I have the iPhone and (needed for work) a laptop (either mobile workstation or convertable tablet format) so why carry more hardware?

  10. Henry Patterson says

    I had high hopes that the iPad might be the ideal mobile/portable mindmapping tool an upgrade from inking on my Tablet and perfect match for MindManager or iThoughts or other app. The iPad is the right size & weight for capturing notes in meetings and workshops, but the no ink (convert to text) is a non-starter for me. An onscreen keypad is not a replacement for a pen or a full sized keyboard/mouse (okay not mobile). Even the option of web based mindmapping collaboration might be limited by what’s missing (Flash, Camera) on the iPad. It’s close but not close enough to replace my Tablet PC in my gear bag.

    So what’s the chance iPad 2.0 will include inking, flash and a swivel camera?

  11. says

    I still use a Moleskine and a le-pen. I tried a Wacom and Curio, and I can’t stand mindmapping on the iPhone (not enough room, and the apps don’t do what I want them to do). Hopefully, the iPad will inspire developers to develop more (and different kinds of) mind-mapping applications.

  12. Patrick says

    I hope that the developers watch the video on the apple website showing how you can play scrabble over multiple iPads and take some inspiration from it. One iPad for mindmapping would be cool but just like dual screens for accessing the same mindmap from multiple locations is awesome, so would dual iPads updating the same mindmap document.

  13. says

    I am curious what kind of mind map features you expect at the Ipad. Is online collaboration important or free sketching? How many different kind of levels do you need? Any need for additional inspiration tools? Please share your thoughts..

  14. Xa4 says

    it's the one thing that is keeping me from buying an iPad for professional use: Xmind on iPad.
    I use Xmind a lot for notetaking and thought structuring. If only I could share the files on iPad and with MobileMe or Dropbox edt them on the go….
    Any release date on the horizon yet?


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