Mindjet’s redesigned Tasks app for iPhone enhances team project collaboration

Mindjet Tasks

Last week, Mindjet announced the launch of its redesigned Tasks app for the iPhone, which aims to move task management into the era of team communication and collaboration.

Mindjet Tasks has been overhauled to transform it into a mobile hub to manage projects, tasks and teams in an easy to use and intuitive interface. It is designed to integrate with Mindjet’s web-based collaborative workspace (formerly called Connect – click here for my review of it) and its desktop and mobile mind mapping tools to help streamline team communication and collaboration.

Today, the majority of workers now carry a smartphone with them and continue to use it outside of work, often to keep up with projects and e-mail. In addition, a growing number of companies support “BYOD” – bring your own device. In other words, using your own mobile device to utilize work e-mail and other applications. But task management apps for mobile devices have been largely focused on enabling individual productivity. There hasn’t been one that would enable and enhance team communication and project management.

“Most apps only attach you to their data, and don’t address the wider need to support an entire workflow,” explains Andy Markham, Mindjet’s mobile product manager. “We saw an opportunity to break out of the individual productivity box and create something that would help team members to ‘connect the dots’ and contribute updates to projects, no matter where they are.” The result is this expansive thinking is new version of Mindjet Tasks.

A tour of Mindjet Tasks

This elegantly-designed app makes some bold steps forward in interface design, combining some of the latest thinking on touch interaction within mobile apps into an intuitive, easy to use package. Mindjet realizes that the easier an app is to figure out and use, the more likely team members are to keep their tasks and projects up to date.

When you first open Mindjet Tasks, it displays a list of the tasks that you own and follow. You can manually re-order them by dragging them up or down. To learn more about each task, you simply swipe a blue tab at the right end of each task to the left. It slides open (screenshot above), and reveals a set of 5 icons that enable you to take action on that task. You can assign it to another person, mark it as done, delete it or drill down to view additional information about it (see the screenshot above).

On this task details screen, Mindjet Tasks displays a wealth of attractively-arranged information about it. You can see which project the task is a part of, who is assigned to it, its due date and percentage complete. Each element is editable. For example, percentage complete is depicted by a checkmark inside a circle. If you swipe your finger in a slow, circular motion around the circumference of the circle, the percentage complete changes. Mindjet calls this a “progress wheel.” It’s essentially a touch-sensitive dial – cool!

Below this basic task data, there is room to add comments, add followers to the task and add attachments. The whole concept of followers in this collaborative environment is an interesting one. For some tasks and projects within your organization, you may not be directly responsible for them, but you may want to follow their progress – because you may have some expertise that you can share with the person who is implementing it or simply because it’s a cool project that you want to track.

Just like in Mindjet’s web-based collaborative task environment, you can hold conversations around tasks. All of the data from the web application is fully integrated into the mobile Tasks environment. Any updates you make on your mobile device will be immediately reflected in the web application and vice versa – which makes Tasks a real-time team-based task management dashboard!

One pleasant surprise is that Mindjet Tasks leverages the voice capabilities of Apple iOS and the Android operating system to enable you to dictate comments verbally into the app. Voice recognition built into these mobile operating systems translates your spoken words into text and inserts it into Mindjet Tasks – very cool! This is ideal for busy executives on the go, who may not have time to manually enter an update, but can quickly and easily dictate one on the run. Once again, the easier an app is to use, the more likely you are to keep your tasks up-to-date.

Tapping on an info icon on the right side of the task details view displays its score – a number that is intelligently auto-calculated by Mindjet’s web-based collaborative tool using an algorithm that considers a number of factors, such as due date, number of followers and the newness of the task.

You can easily navigate to other parts of Mindjet Tasks using an icon that represents a small grid of squares at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on it causes Tasks to display a set of navigation buttons that lets you move to project, recent activity, connections, help and map views.

Recent activity displays a list of all of the tasks for which you are responsible, plus those you are following. If you tap on a person’s name or avatar, you can immediately view all of the tasks and projects they’re working on.

The connections view in Tasks functions something like an address book: it displays all of the people with whom you’re collaborating. You can easily add and remove people from this view; the most active people are displayed toward the top. I asked the Mindjet team if you can drag to reorder people in this view. They said not yet, but apparently this functionality may find its way into a future release of Tasks.

The maps button in the Tasks menu view takes you directly to the Mindjet app on your mobile device. This parallels the tight integration between Mindjet’s desktop mind mapping software and its web-based collaboration environment.

Finally, the help view includes a brief visual tutorial of how to interact with Tasks, which helps new users quickly get up to speed on the preferred way to interact with Tasks.

Conclusion

This new version of Mindjet Tasks for the iPhone does an elegant job of “connecting the dots” between the developer’s web-based collaboration environment and busy executives. I love the simplicity of the app’s user interface, which is a cut above other mobile task management apps, and the way it presents a lot of information in a very intuitive way.

I’ve talked for a number of years on this blog about the “great divide” of mind mapping – some executives “get it” and are more productive and creative because of it, while other executives just don’t like mind maps and consider them frivolous; they prefer information in linear form. I pointed out in my review earlier this year that the web-based collaborative environment formerly known as Connect did a great job of bridging this gap, enabling non-users of Mindjet’s mind mapping software to collaborate effectively with team members who do. This new version of Mindjet Tasks moves the company one step closer in that direction, enabling anyone on the team to contribute updates and expertise to tasks and projects from their mobile devices.

One minor caveat: I tested Mindjet Tasks on my iPhone 4GS. Voice activation doesn’t work on this generation of iPhone, but should work great on newer models equipped with Siri. Also, to get the full benefit of this app, you may want to utilize an iPhone 5, because it will display more information vertically than my 4GS does. Still, considering that I was using this app on a smaller screen, it’s an excellent screen layout that works well. You just can’t see as many tasks or comments at one time.

Mindjet Tasks is free in the Apple AppStore and should be available shortly for the Android platform.

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