Think Buzan (formerly Buzan Online) just released iMindMap for iPhone today, which faithfully captures the organic feel of its desktop big brother on Apple’s popular mobile platform. What’s even more remarkable is that the developer is giving it away for free, as part of its mission to spread the influence of mind mapping worldwide.
Adding branches to iMindMap for iPhone is accomplished in a similar fashion to the desktop mind mapping program of the same name: You tap a branch once to select it; a red inside of a blue circle appears at the end of it to designate that it’s the active branch; it’s very easy to see this on the iPhone’s screen, compared to one or two other mind map apps, where it’s a little harder to see which topic is currently selected. To create a new branch, you tap the red dot; the selector turns into a larger, pale red dot appears to let you know that the app is ready to create a new branch. You then drag your finger from it; a new branch grows outward, following the path of your finger.
On this computing platform, where everything is accomplished using the iPhone’s touch-sensitive screen, the experience of creating a map is even more organic, because of the iPhone’s tactile user interface. If you tap on the outer blue circle, a four-pointed arrow appears, and you can easily drag an existing map branch with complete freedom. On a computing platform where it’s hard to accurately tap the screen in a precise location, it’s clear that the developers have done their homework, designing a user interface that not only remains faithful to the desktop version of iMindMap but also plays very well on the iPhone’s diminutive touch screen. Nice job!
You can also add “box branches” for topics that need to contain more than just one or two keywords. Your topic description, as the name suggests, is contained within a rectangular box.
To embellish your mind map’s branches, you click on an “edit” button, which opens a dialog box that enables you to add icons, change branch color, add links and notes, and delete the branch. Centralizing these controls within a single dialog box was a wise design decision, because it enables iMindMap for iPhone to have a very minimalist toolbar – in keeping with the app’s organic nature.
iMindMap for iPhone can be used in both horizontal and vertical modes; the program’s virtual keyboard works in both orientations. Zooming is supported through the commonly-used two-finger “pinching” gestures.
One of the best features of the desktop version of iMindMap that has been incorporated into this well-designed mobile version is speed map mode – which enables you to quickly add a series of topics to your map without dragging them using the selector. On the iPhone platform, this has been implemented very elegantly. You select speed map mode using a lightning bolt icon on the app’s toolbar. You then click the add topic button to add your first topic, tap in a branch title, and then click on a small “plus” button; iMindMap for iPhone adds the branch and automatically opens another one, awaiting you to type in a title for it. Very slick!
iMindMap for iPhone makes it easy to e-mail your completed mind maps to yourself, where you can continue to develop them in the desktop version of the app, with which it has complete compatibility.
Considering that ThinkBuzan is a late entrant to the iPhone mind map app game, its development team has done an excellent job creating a tool that is fun and engaging to use. It contains just enough functionality to enable you to quickly capture your ideas in visual form, along with some supporting details, and then export them to the desktop version of iMindMap for further development. If you want to see a simple demo of what this terrific mind map app can do, ThinkBuzan has posted a 5-minute video to You Tube that highlights its main features.
I also think it’s a brilliant move by ThinkBuzan to give away iMindMap for iPhone. By offering it for free, they have removed a barrier to people downloading it. Granted, most apps don’t cost more than a few dollars, but still, it’s more of a mental barrier than anything. By giving it away, ThinkBuzan stands a better chance of generating a large number of downloads from the Apple AppStore, which hopefully will further propel its popularity – and will further ThinkBuzan’s mission of growing the popularity of mind mapping worldwide.