Three great mobile mind mapping apps

Because of their simple drag-and-drop, quickfire creative power, mind maps are incredibly well suited to mobile platforms

All this week, I've been talking about how amazingly useful mind-mapping is for a variety of creative and business tasks. In my last post, I looked at a few of the best mind-mapping tools for Windows. Today we'll check out some of the coolest mind mappers for smartphones and tablets.

Mind mapping is an awesome activity for mobile devices, because it's inherently quick and requires very little typing. You can pull out your phone and tap up useful mind maps as you ride the train, wait to order lunch, or while you're standing in line at the airport. It's precisely this low-friction simplicity that makes mind maps such a powerful tool for productivity.

Here are a few of my favorite mind mapping apps for the most popular smartphone platforms.

SimpleMind+ for iPad/iPhone

There's no terrible shortage of mind mapping options for iOS, and some can set you back as much as $50. But for my money (which is about $0), it's hard to beat SimpleMind+. The basic version is free for either iPad or iPhone, and as of this writing the manufacturer offers an upgrade to the full version (which supports both iPad and iPhone) for $2.99 as an in-app purchase.

SimpleMind+ is simplicity itself. Tap a little plus sign next to any node on your mind map to add a subnode. Tap in a label and then create more nodes. Tapping and dragging instantly rearranges your maps, and you can drop one node onto another to reassign it as a subnode. In all my years of mind mapping, I've yet to find a mind mapper as cheap, easy, and insanely useful as SimpleMind+ on the iPad. The iPhone version runs a close second.

Thinking Space for Android

Android users need not fret over the absence of SimpleMind+ on their platform. Thinking Space, which is a free download from Android Market, is very nearly as streamlined and simple as SimpleMind+. It also supports the same XML file format as Freemind, the great open-source mind mapper I recommended for Windows users in my last post, so it's ready to share maps between your smartphone and your PC.

MindBerry

Keypad-based BlackBerrys aren't exactly ideal for mind mapping, because they require too much futzing around with the trackball and readily break your train of thought. But the BlackBerry Storm can be almost as good as an iPhone or Android device for mind mapping if you use MindBerry. This $17 app is available for both the Storm and for keypad-equipped BlackBerrys, but I wouldn't recommend the non-Storm version any more than I'd recommend a keypad-based smartphone (which I wouldn't).

Many, Many More

There are dozens of other mind mapping apps out there, including options for WebOS , Windows Mobile, and Symbian. I can't possibly cover them all here, but I've tried plenty of the available alternatives and the ones I've listed here are my best suggestions for anyone looking to take their digital mind maps on the road. Search your platforms app marketplace, and you'll find no shortage of competing choices, ranging from simple (and some not-simple-enough) freebies to powerfully complex tools that come with price tags approaching $50, like OmniGraffle and Mindjet for iOS.

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Robert Strohmeyer

PC World (US online)
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