iThoughts (mindmapping) in Review – Visualise your thinking!

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Update: (Contest now closed) Submit a comment in this review to to win 1 or 4 copies of iThoughts.

As everybody knows from their own experience, thinking is an extremely chaotic process. And understanding the big picture is often very difficult, especially when trying to keep in mind all of the various bits and pieces that often don’t even seem connected in any way. Well, really smart people (a group with which I have no relation) have dreamed up of a special class of software to help us poor sods get our minds in order. That class is dubbed “mind mapping”, and is now available for the iPhone.

The idea of any MindMapping software is elegant in its simplicity. Think of it as whiteboard, on which you can throw all of your ideas and then link them to one another. When the process is complete you’re left with visual representation of your problem easy to consider and share.

iThoughts is one of the few apps on the iDevice to work with  mind maps. It’s very easy to just pick up and start using it and to illustrate the power of the method even the built-in help is represented as a MindMap.

The main screen is very straightforward. You have a list of all of your mind maps, with a customisable icon assigned to each, and can also add or transfer new mind maps (but we won’t focus on that for now).

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Mind map editing itself isn’t difficult. You are presented with a huge area with the mind map name in the middle – this your main problem. Now if you double-tap at any spot on the map and your sub idea will appear with an automatic link to the main problem. If you want to add a sub-sub-item, just make sure to tap the hub idea first (the currently selected one is indicated with a red badge).

The items themselves can be customized in quite a number of ways – you can change the form, colour, font, add up to two icons, as well as define the % complete for the item, the start and due dates. This makes it ideal for project managers to keep their plans and update them on the go. I would also note that some desktop mind mapping application can actually import Microsoft Project files and turn them into mind maps automatically).

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I am pleasantly surprised with the performance of iThoughts. Even quite large and complex maps work fast, zooming and panning the view works flawlessly, regardless of which orientation you have your device set to. The GUI is nice, clean and free from excessive flash. I miss the option of expanding/collapsing the sub-items with just a simple tap on the +/- circle – you have to tap-and-hold on the parent and select the option from there. I also wish for many of the advanced tools which are available in he desktop version. In all other respects I found the interface perfect.

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Probably one of the main features of iThoughts is its excellent export/import capabilities. It supports the most popular desktop formats including OPML (Novamind and OmniOutliner), Freemind and MindManager. You can either access the files directly over Wi-Fi using any web browser, OR use the Box.net online collaboration service. The direct interface works great, though I did find it too minimalistic. It would really benefit from some design work.

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The Box.net service on the other hand is very powerful. Even the free account gives you up to 1 Gb of storage space with a limit of 25 Mb per file. You can also use it to store other types of files, share and collaborate on them online. Any mind maps stored on Box.net are marked with a special icon, which also indicates if the file on your iDevice is out of sync with the central server. After setting up the initial link you can easily sync the mind map with Box.net with just a couple of taps.

In short – iThoughts is a great tool, useful for keeping the project info at hand, as well as for brainstorming and even simply keeping track of stuff. The excellent export/import capabilities make it easy to integrate into your activities if you have been using mind maps before, as well as sharing them with colleagues and friends. The few gripes I had with the interface are offset by its simplicity and excellent performance. No wonder iThoughts has been featured on O’Reilly as an iPhone Apps Top Pick.

With this I declare iThoughts officially touched.

Update: Congrats to Philip, Charlie, victor piscue and Albert Go for winning a copy of iThoughts. Enjoy this great mind mapping application!

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App Summary
Title:iThoughts (mindmapping)Developer:CMS
Reviewed Ver:2.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$7.99App Size:1.0 MB
  • Clean, fast and easy-to-use interface
  • Powerfull import/export capabilities
  • Box.net integration
  • Expanding/collapsing sub-items could be more intuitive

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  • Phillip L

    Sounds interesting! Thanks again for a great review!

  • http://www.iRevieweronline.com Tizocman

    This would make writing essays and app reviews easier.

  • http://loneplacebo.wordpress.com Tony

    Does it help you predict the direction of the stock market?

  • http://Www.theintersectiononline.org Charlie

    This app would be valuable in my job as a pastor and preacher. I may have to look into getting a copy. Thanks for the review!

  • HBB

    no lookin good with design. i mean i can tell just by lookin at it. but i don’t mind gettin a chance to get it free

  • http://wearemadeofstars.com Lyrebos

    Looks like this is a very interesting one-of-a-kind app for our iDevices… Thanks for the review!!!

  • Ray

    I’ve been monitoring this app for months on AppSniper hoping its price would dip a bit and so haven’t taken the plunge yet. There are a few mind mapping apps out there but this one really looks like the best one and — and it consistently has high review scores on the App store.

  • Zane

    This is a very well put together application with a very easy to use and understand UI. The Workflow manager is amazing!!! It is so well laid out and easy to navigate and edit my 1 year old could figure it out ;)
    I could really use this app to help me get my s#%t together so I can get my reviews for the site finished and published ASAFP ;P (Hint, Hint ;])

  • Albert Go

    Really interesting app. I would like to find out more about this. Hope I can win.:)

  • Vicky

    Sounds like a nice app.

  • Fares

    Interesting review as usual… would love to get my hands on a freebie… cheers!

  • http://www.explorer-consulting.pl Wojtek

    Looks very interesting, as mapper’s support :) Great that it’s cooperate w/ MindManager!

  • http://www.chordica.com Joash Chee

    A mindmapping tool like this will be very helpful when I’m crafting apps for development, like three upcoming Chordica versions for 2010 :)

  • http://piscue.withtheflow.net victor piscue

    great review!

    I’m wishing to try it in my iphone.

    fast and export options is all I need

  • http://Www.theintersectiononline.org Charlie

    Thank you so much!

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