In January, the developer of the popular MindMeister web-based mind mapping application acquired the assets of MindMaker, one of the first iPhone based visual mapping tools. After many months of redevelopment, MindMeister Mobile has finally been unveiled and is available for purchase from Apple’s AppStore.
Here’s a brief summary of what’s new and exciting about this long-awaited mind map app:
Auto-synchronization of maps: One of the shortcomings of mind mapping on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has been getting your maps off of this platform and onto your PC. You see, Apple only allows image files to be e-mail attachments. So most of MindMeister Mobile’s competitors have gotten around this limitation via complicated server arrangements. You have to upload your map to their server, and then type the server URL they give you into your desktop browser in order to retrieve your map. Kind of clunky!
MindMeister, fortunately, has a better solution – and that’s what they concentrated on in this first release of their iPhone map app. Remember, MindMeister is already a web-based service. As a result, MindMeister Mobile automatically saves any maps you’ve created on your iPhone or iPod Touch to your account on the MindMeister web service. In addition, if you have wireless Internet access available, you can view the maps you have stored online and download them to your iPhone.
In practice, this worked very smoothly. Here’s how I tested it: I recently came up with the idea of publishing a mind map of all commercially available mind mapping software. I began to create this map in MindMeister Mobile, when I had a few minutes of “down time.” The next day, I logged into my MindMeister account, opened this map and exported it as a MindManager .mmap file. I then opened it in MindManager and finished creating it there. Very slick, indeed!
You can still use MindMeister Mobile, even if you don’t have an account with the developer’s online mapping service. Obviously, then, you’ll be limited to saving your maps on your iPhone or iPod Touch. With the basic level of this web-based mapping service still available for free, you really owe it to yourself to set up a MindMeister account online so you can get the most out of this portable version.
Geistesblitz on the go: Another slick feature offered by MindMeister Mobile is one that debuted in the web version of this mind mapping application: Geistesblitz – German for “brainstorm.” The developers of MindMeister have created a number of ways for you to add ideas to your default map stored on the web service, without having to open it – via desktop widgets and e-mail messages, for example. I’ve always loved this innovative functionality, and it is now available on MindManager Mobile.
If you click on the Geistesblitz button in the app’s toolbar, you’re taken to a screen with a single form field and a “submit” button; the bottom half of the screen is filled with the iPhone’s pop-up keyboard. Type in your idea, click “submit” (or the “send” button on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard) and your idea is instantly added to a “my Geistesblitzes” branch of your default map. I verified this by clicking on the “maps” icon and immediately loading my default map (note to developer: it would be nice if a future iteration of MindMeister Mobile provides some visual designation of which online map is your default one).
In addition to these intriguing capabilities, here’s a summary of the other features offered by MindMeister Mobile:
- Create, view and edit maps online and offline
- Share maps directly from the device
- Full drag and drop support
- Zoom in and out
- Support for icons, colors and styles
- Favorites and pending maps (those that haven’t been synched yet)
MindMeister for iPhone and iPod touch is officially available in the App Store now for only US$6.99.
In summary, MindMeister is off to a great start with its new iPhone and iPod Touch app. Considering the reputation they have earned as a leading innovator in the world of web-based mind mapping applications, I can’t wait to see where they take it from here!