Mindscope

30 11 2014

Apple’s iPad is the perfect device for summarizing and visualizing what’s going on in your brain.

Most of the apps available at the App Store are designed for special tasks like note taking, mind mapping, concept mapping, etc. But there are also innovative ideas combining different purposes in just one app.

For technical products Three-In-One, or let’s say X-InOne, is a synonym for a set of three/X features implemented in just one product. Three-In-One concepts are well-known from printers. For printing, copying, and scanning documents there is just one device which does it all.

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An example is the brandnew app Mindscope by John Goering.

It promises to be

Part mind-mapping tool, part outliner, part todo manager.
A multi-level magnet board for your brain.

The basic idea of John is to organize information in layers each attached to a text snippet.

Create a text snippet.
Tap on it to move into the next layer
(fortunately not the next layer of your touch screen but a software controlled stoarage)
Enter further information.
Go back by using the pinch gesture or tapping on the layer menu at the top of the screen.

If you installed the app the welcome screen presents several videos about the usage.

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In advance …

The app isn’t ready yet. It’s brandnew and if you are interested in using this tool you should be patient until John adds some necessary features users expect when using the tool for note taking and mind/concept mapping.

Not all readers are familiar with all the abbreviations used in the IT world. UI means the User Interface and describes the layout of an app seen by a user. Developers should follow some standards published by Apple in The iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

UX means the User Experience and describes what users feel when they use the app the first time and extensively later on. The iPad is made for apps simplifying daily tasks. If UI and UX isn’t perfect it’s likely that an app carves out a miserable existence or is deleted after a short time.

Both UI and UX are in some way subjective criteria. So take a look on the screenshots of Mindscope and build your own very personal opinion.

The UI was developed by an engaged team in Berlin, Germany, and for me it looks perfect. I’m convinced that we soon will see a high quality product with the well-known label ‘Made in Germany’. So there seems to be no reason to not purchase the additional features via an In-App-Purchase and getting all the projected refinements of future updates.

Features …

An image is more than a 1000 words. So please look at my collages to see how the app works.

Using the app is easier than any other app I used before. Although it should be mentioned that features are limited. It’s the task of John to keep it as simple as it is now after necessary features are added. Jaakko did it with his app Mindly and I hope John will do it as well.

An application …

Using the app Inspiration I created a short summary of how to sell an iOS device. To get familiar with Mindscope I transferred the information to a board in Mindscope.

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What we can see is that there might be problems of acceptance because Mindscope doesn’t support colors, shapes, and images. The only way to highlight essentials is to use a bold text possibly with a larger size.

Honestly said, the creation of the board shown above was a nightmare and here are just some of the reasons why:

  • The size of a board is limited to the screen size of the iPad. The content cannot be extended or moved around.
  • Boards cannot be zoomed.
  • Boards do not adapt their position relative to the keyboard coming up when you create a new object.
  • The shape coming up when multiple objects are selected often doesn’t surround the actual selection.
  • The press and long-press gesture often opens a new board and transfers the content of a text snippet into this board.

English is not my native language and so it’s quite difficult to describe what happened during the creation process but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a 1.0 version.

Anyway I’m not sure if developers should release apps where basic features are missing or the UX in some cases is near to annoy users. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with apps already available and constantly improved over years and so the release date for a new app should be considered carefully.

Missing features …

Developers like Jaakko Rantanen (developer of Mindly) who first released his app in December 2013 and launched powerful updates in January, April, and July 2014, skyrocketing ratings and sales did it right. Talk to your customers and delight with useful new features.

If John is only approximately on the level of Jaakko we will see a competitive offer which will have it’s place in the category of useful productivity apps.

The cons as of August 26, 2014 …

  • Syncing between iOS devices not supported
  • Images cannot be assigned to topics
  • Text colors are not supported
  • Proprietary file format available only on the device
    Files cannot be sent to cloud storages or by mail
  • Topics cannot be organized in folders
  • Shapes for topics are not available
    This is a quite important con because shapes are an indispensable option to use visualizations of complex topics.
  • The UNDO control is missing
    Sorry, but that’s an absolute No-Go.
  • No word wrap
    At the time the app is more suited for shorter text snippets.

Not listed are a couple of useful small parts in the program code which make users happy, e.g. aligning objects, duplicating objects, and, and, and.

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The developer tries to avoid on-screen controls which is definitely the right approach to let the user focus on content.

Remarks (October 23) …

To get an overview of the changes after my article was written please have a look at the Version History of the app in the App Store. Some useful features have been added but I still think that, after 2 months of being in the market it’s a no-go that there is still no UNDO feature.

Remarks (November 15)

Never give up. The sorely missed UNDO command was released in Mindscope 1.3 along with some other tweaks which can be looked up in the version history of the app in Apple’s App Store.

The app still has the subtitle ‘Mindscope – the Mind Mapping Out…’ although many features even of simple mind mapping tools are missing.

Summary …

The app looks quite promising. The next months will give us the answer whether it moves into the smiling sky of iOS apps or drops into no-man’s-land.

The app promises to be a tool for mind mapping, planning projects, taking meeting notes, creating flowcharts, tracking todos, and presenting information. This is a quite exaggerated announcement. To compete with a specialized app or a Three-In-One app like MagicalPad it needs tons of further improvements.

John, keep on following the KISS principle. This is what users expect from modern apps for the Apple’s mobile flagship for teaching, learning, and organizing.

Related links …

The developer’s website …

Mindscope

Mind mapping …

iThoughts

Mindly

Mind/Concept mapping …

Inspiration

Three In One

Mind Maps + Concept maps

Others …

Note taking

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.


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