Published on November 8th, 2009 | by Kyith14
Mind Mapping Software for iPhone:iThoughts Review
In one of my previous post, i did a brief overview on Mindjet, a mind mapping software that is available for your ipod touch or iphone. Mindjet is also the company that brought you mind manager, a state of the art mind mapping software that is pretty expensive for most of us.
Digital vs Analog Mind Mapping
I used Mind Manager before and really its a great software to mind map on your laptop or desktop. But my good friend Melvin made a comment, that if he were to mind map, he would rather use a piece of paper.
I find that digital mind mapping have advantages, particularly, you can:
- re-arrange the nodes so that you can structure your thoughts
- you can easily archive and reference them next time for notes
- you can translate them into project plans or tasks list
- you can link them to your word,excel and web documents
Perhaps the problem with a desktop or laptop is that for Kinetic people they need to scribble down things instead of clicking and typing and looking at a screen.
For me though, I find it difficult to collect my thoughts or do planning facing a digital mind map. I am a kinetic person, which means i remember things better if i scribble it down. But really, the problem for me is that i tend to misplaced by maps all over the place. So i like something digital, but also enables me to mind map wherever i can, not bounded to any desktop or laptop. The best option is that if i were to be able to find something good on the Apple iPhone app store it will be good!
Requirements of my mind mapping software
In my exploration of apps on the Apple iPhone App Store, i found a few softwares that does mind mapping. Some of them are great like Mind Meister, which touts that their app for the iphone can sync real time with their online maps.However, as part of my needs to keep notes offline and away from the web, i need better solution. Specifically:
- Maps must be sophisticated compare to desktop mind mapping tool
- Maps must be able to view both on iPhone and desktop
- Maps must be portable
- Pricing must be affordable
So i stumble upon Mindjet and iThoughts.
iThoughts was released first before Mindjet. And the similarities between the 2 applications are very very similar. I got a feeling the folks at Mindjet copied what the folks at iThoughts did to come up with theirs (don’t sue me! everyone will think the same way after looking at the comparison here!)
The problem of them being so similar is that for the same price which one should i go for?In the end i took my plunge with iThoughts instead of MindJet and i have not regretted since.
Both iThoughts and Mindjet cost USD6.99. Its not cheap, but its not that expensive compare to GTD apps that i bought such as Appigo ToDo. The cost is nothing if it brings improve productivity to my life. Hey, some of my dinner cost like USD15, so i believe i am not paying an expensive price for an independent application.
Version reviewing is version 2.1.
Why is it good?
Basically, most of the basic things you are able to do on your desktop mind map software such as Nova Mind and Mind Manager you can do it here
Able to handle large maps
iThoughts uses a canvas to paint the topics and they tout that you can go greater than 1000x the screen area which is more than enough for me.
You can zoom in zoom out of maps to get a better vantage view after you have rearrange or finish composing
Very good performance
What i really like about this application is that not only does it have a lot of good functionality, those that i expect to be in it, but on the iPod Touch 2G it does it with a very good performance.
- Double tapping immediately brings out the Topic input screen
- Not much lag on scrolling around canvas to review Map
- Organization of the above map neatly is fast
Very friendly Topic input mechanism
Entering a new topic or nodes is a breeze! All you need to do is touch on a parent topic once to select that topic. You can enter a new topic by touching the top buttons to either enter a child or sibling topic.
Additionally, the fast way is to double tap an area to insert a child topic.
(More screenshots and functionality explanation after the break)
Double Tap topic to view details or edit details
Double tapping on topic will bring up the detail entry form for the topic.
Ability to enter Note and Large Topic Text (2000+ words)
iThoughts is touting that they are able to enter large amount of topic notes. I think this is very important for note taking. But a better way is to use the Note section to attach notes to topics
Notes can be viewed when topic is selected and when note exist
Attach Icons to Topics
Icons give more meaning to your topic, whether it is something important, alert or that you should make a decision on it. And iThoughts provide it.
Change color of topics
Update:Create Relationships between topic
New updates to the software now allows you to specify relationship as well.
Assign Start Date and End Date for Task Topics and Monitor the Progress of the Task Topic
Many folks would like the topic to double up as a todo task and iThoughts allows you to visualise it that way.
You would then be able to see a symbol represent that dates were set and that progress were set.
Folding (collapsible) topics (to a specified depth of 1, 2 or all)
You can show and hide topics as and where you want. Clicking on the cross opens and hides the topics.
By touching on the + / – signs you can bring up the following manual where you can hide the topics
Duplicate Maps from Templates
You can easily edit, rename and duplicate existing maps which is very useful if you create a GTD Template for planning big projects. All you need to do is to duplicate these maps
Copy,Cut and Paste Topics and Sub Topics to another map
This feature is damn useful. Leveraging on iPhone’s cut and paste functionality, you can cut or copy topics and its child topics from one map into another map.
Configurable topic shapes (rectangle, oval etc.)
You can fully configure the shapes. Although this is its weak point. Currently version 2.1 there are only 3 shapes but perhaps future versions will have more shapes.
Auto align and arrange branches and entire maps – in a single operation.
Chances are you start entering data by touching one topic and double touching an empty space. in time, your topics will be all over the place.
Fear not. Touching the +/- button will invoke the menu asking you to show how many levels. you will then be asked if you want iThoughts to auto arrange the topics for you.
It is very very useful for maps that gets really big.
Update: With the current iteration of iThoughts, once the Keep Organized is checked, the application will auto format for you! saves alot of trouble.
Support Numerous Format
- Freemind (0.8 and 0.9 – Windows and Mac)
- OPML (supported by OminOutliner)
- MindManager (6, 7 and 8 – Windows and Mac)
- Novamind (v4 – Windows and Mac)
- Update:Now support iMindMap!
I personally use Mind Manager so i do know you can open mmap format of maps backedup from iphone to desktop.
Easy Transfer and Download via WIFI
Like GoodReader, importing and exporting your maps are easy. By using WebDAV server, you are able to upload and download maps in various formats via WIFI.
Here i key in the address http://192.168.1.1:44444 into my firefox browser to access my ipod touch. Then i can upload or download versions of the document.
Email Outline and Multiple formats to designated Email Address
You can send your outline to a colleague or a friend and they will be able to share the fruit of your hard work. Great for meeting notes when you use your iPod Touch with iThoughts to take notes.
I would like to say this is a very polish product. I really enjoy planning with this and Appigo ToDo. You would expect these functionalities to belong to a desktop application but the folks at iThoughts really did such a good job that i enjoy forming ideas and planning on the go with iThoughts that i seldom use the desktop application now.
I urge business managers or professional workers to give this product a try, especially those big on Getting Things Done (GTD)
Here is a video on iThoughts!
Upcoming version 2.2 looks to add auto arrange! which is damn good