Tenero Software Ltd. recently launched version 2.0 of its popular iBlueSky application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It is now available on the Apple App Store as a free upgrade for existing users, and features the following new capabilities:
Huge page size (nearly 1500x screen size): This makes iBlueSky ideal for handling large mind maps. I think Tenero had to move this direction; if you’re planning to import maps from desktop mapping programs, then your iPhone app must be able to support larger maps. I didn’t get a chance to test the app with a large map; if anyone has done so, please share your experiences in the comments area below.
Improved import and export capabilities: You can now import mind maps from Novamind, Freemind, OPML or iBlueSky formats. To import a map, you must visit a special web page, login and upload your file. This website then generates a separate e-mail, which you must open from within your iPhone or iPod Touch in order to import it into iBlueSky. The process sounds complicated in writing, but in actual use it’s pretty easy. I was able to set up a new account on the iBlueSky server within minutes, and the rest of the process went very smoothly.
I need to call special attention to iBlueSky’s integration with NovaMind, who is supporting it in a big way. In fact, Gideon King and his crew have devoted an entire web page to this application. You can now perform two-way exchanges of maps between iBlueSky and NovaMind (previously it was only a one-way integration). It’s good to see partnerships like these emerging. Why create your own iPhone app when there are some very good ones like iBlueSky that you can easily integrate with?
Branches can now have more than one line of text: This is ideal if you like to take notes in your maps (and many people do).
You can now attach notes to branches: A small letter “T” denotes topics that contain notes – simple, but very effective. The developers rendered this in a serifed font (topics are san-serif), so there’s no confusion between topic text and the notes icon.
Double-tap to zoom in/out: In addition to using the familiar iPhone/iPod Touch two-fingered “pinch” motion to zoom in and out of your maps, you can now double-tap to accomplish the same thing. I tried this, but zooming out made my small mind map zoom WAY out till it was almost too tiny to see. When zooming back in, you’ve got to be careful where you double-tap. If you’re even a little bit off to the side of your map, it will zoom to the center of your tap point. The first time I tried it, I watched my mind map quickly zoom toward me, and then veer off to the right, out of the field of view. But I quickly figured out what I was doing wrong and my next attempt was much more accurate. Maybe a “center mind map” toolbar button would help?
Color picker: You can change branch colors using a new color picker, which consists of a rainbow palette of colors – in other words, you’re not limited to just a handful of options here. It also gives you the option to apply the color you’ve selected to any sub-branches.
Translucent toolbars: The top and bottom toolbars are now translucent and auto-hide when no branch is selected, after about 7 seconds. This opens up more screen real estate, so you can view more of your map. Even when the toolbars are visible, you can clearly see map topics through them (see the screen shot above, which illustrates this). Nice!
Export enhancements: When you export an iBlueSky map, you attach a message and give the e-mail a subject line. The e-mail address for export can now be entered manually, or selected from the program’s new address book. iBlueSky 2.0 can also remember the last e-mail address you used when exporting a project.
The bottom line is that iBlueSky for the iPhone and iPod Touch just keeps getting better and better. If you’re a NovaMind user, there’s no excuse – it’s time to start mind mapping on Apple’s handheld marvels. Even if you’re not, there is much to love here. The application’s well designed user interface is a pleasure to use, and behaves just as you would expect it to.