Smartphones

The top five mind mapping apps for the Android tablet

Andy Makar highlights five of his favorite mind mapping applications for the Android tablet platform.

Mind mapping solutions and tablet computing are made for each other. Whenever I attend conferences or lectures, I frequently bring my tablet instead of lugging around a laptop, power plug, and laptop case. Even with structured presentations, the discussions and ideas generated from the presentation are non-linear, which makes mind mapping the perfect note-taking and thought mapping solution.

(Side note: Tablet portability not only helps take notes but ensures that I'm first in line for all the free SWAG.)

A few years ago, mind mapping solutions on a tablet platform were hard to find and limited in functionality. Fortunately, mind mapping software development on both the iPad and Android platforms have matured, and software vendors are providing solutions for multiple platforms -- desktops, tablets, smartphones, and cloud-based solutions. The popularity of cloud computing has enabled users to seamlessly integrate the tablet, the computer, and the cloud.

Using a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I reviewed 10 of the free mind mapping applications in the Google Play store (Figure A) for the Android platform. Figure A

10 free mind mapping applications for Android.

Android mind mapping applications

Here are the 10 Android mind mapping applications I reviewed:

Considering mind mapping is a simple technique of creating a network diagram of thoughts, colors, and relationships, you'd be surprised at the range of functionality available in the tablet mind mapping software. Some of the Android applications supported simple map creation and other provided rich formatting and task management within the mind map. I developed maps in each of the applications, and based on each application's usability, ease of editing, map creation, and sharing features, I created the following short list of my favorite Android mind mapping applications.

Mindjet for Android

Mindjet is an impressive and innovative company. In just a few years, they've taken their predominantly PC-based platform to Mac OS, iOS, Android, and cloud computing platforms. The Mindjet for Android app (Figure B) seamlessly integrates with Mindjet's hosted Connect solution. I was able to create a map on the Android tablet and access it on a separate computer by accessing http://connect.mindjet.com. Figure B

Mindjet for Android on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Creating mind maps in Mindjet for Android was very easy. Adding nodes, relationships, colors, notes, and icons was accomplished with the menu system in the lower left corner.

The ability to take notes, sync them with Mindjet Connect, and download the map on my computer is a nice feature that mind mappers will frequently use to translate ideas into new digital assets and actionable items. If you have a desktop version of Mindjet, accessing the tablet version is seamless and perfect for taking notes and brainstorming.

Mindomo

Mindomo is also an impressive tablet mind mapping solution that's feature rich with task management support and layout formatting, in addition to the standard "add a node" functionality. Mindomo has an intuitive interface that lets you create mind maps quickly. I found the layout management feature useful for project management (Figure C), as I can create a work breakdown structure, organization charge, or Six Sigma Fishbone diagram depending on the upcoming meetings purpose.

Android users will be pleased with Mindomo, because it offers a free account for online maps. If you create an online map via the browser or the Mindomo Android application, it will be synchronized with the server for future viewing.

Figure C

The Mindomo app provides a useful layout management feature.

iMindMap HD

If there was an award for the most visually appealing mind mapping tool, I'd award it to iMindMapHD. Most mind mapping tools create a node and growth direction for you. With iMindMap HD, your built-in human equipped stylus draws branches and nodes in the exact direction of your finger (Figure D). The colors and fonts are engaging, and by combining graphics with colors, you'll truly have a mind map that's picture worthy of framing, while helping you organize your thoughts. Figure D

The iMindMap HD app is the most visually appealing mind mapping tool.

The free version of iMindMap HD includes free access to store five mind maps in their hosted iMindMap Freedom account. If you own a license for the desktop version of iMindMap, you can import it into your desktop or laptop. Other mind mapping apps have more features, but iMindMap HD creates the most creative looking mind maps on the tablet.

MindMaps Lite

Another winner in my book is Endare's MindMaps Lite (Figure E). Touching each node opens a graphical set of options that make it easy to add, edit, and delete nodes. When you're taking notes in a lecture, you want to easily create notes without having to struggle with a tool. MindMaps Lite is an excellent choice for new users looking to start with mind mapping. The full version of MindMaps Lite supports export formats, including PNG and PDF, and other mind mapping tools, like Xmind and FreeMind. Figure E

MindMaps Lite is an excellent choice for new users.

MindMeister for Android

When mind mapping tools were predominately delivered on desktops, MindMeister demonstrated innovation by deploying their solution entirely via a web browser. MindMeister on the tablet is a natural extension of a popular hosted platform. Since tablet users also typically have desktop computers, the ability to easily integrate the tablet mind map with a desktop is a must in today's mind mapping web 2.0 world.

This tool successfully develops a mind map but lacks a lot of the "bells and whistles" found in the other mind mapping solutions (Figure F). However, simplicity and well-designed software is more important than packing in all the features you'd find in a desktop-based application.

MindMeister offers a free account with a limited number of maps and allows users to expand into paid accounts. However, the tablet must be connected to the Internet to use the application. If the application worked offline, it would have ranked higher in the evaluation.

Figure F

MindMeister on an Android tablet.

Summary

Mind mapping tools are improving as they integrate web-based solutions with tablets and desktop computing platforms. All of these applications offer a free version that let you explore mind mapping on the Android platform. Paid versions are also available with additional features. Once you start working with mind maps, you'll quickly find new ways to apply mind mapping to business and your personal brainstorming process.

What mind mapping applications do you recommend? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of How To Use Microsoft Project and Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy. For more project management advice visit http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com.

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