Review: Idea for iPhone: Instant storage for instant ideas

Chris Oaten
27 August, 2009
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App Guide

If you have a creative mind, or perhaps you’re always bursting with ideas, you know what it’s like to have a moment of genius, only to lose it for lack of an easy way to note it down.

If this happens to you a lot, Apimac Idea should probably be on your  iPhone. The concept is simple. As an idea springs to life, you reach for your iPhone and punch in a sticky note in Idea. That sticky note, once written and put away, floats on the main screen for easy retrieval or, if you want to store it away for later, can be committed to an archive.

The archive is a simple compendium of notes that opens in list view to show old notes in the order they were archived. The list is editable, so nobody ever need see that moment of genius when you thought that feeding cows vegemite would be a good way to combat rickets in developing nations.

Couldn’t you do the same thing in the Notes app that came loaded on the iPhone? Well, yeah, but that would be missing the point. The neat thing about Idea is that the floating sticky notes can be moved about. You simply drag to rearrange them. This means you could brainstorm ideas for an event or project and arrange them in whatever visually-oriented hierarchical view that makes sense to you. Eventually, one idea will float to the top.

This is a cool concept because the freeform nature of creating and gathering notes encourages creative thinking by not forcing you to conform to an organisational paradigm. Also, being able to change the 
background with images from your library can help put you in the right mindset for generating specific types of ideas.

You can also shake the iPhone to change the background. Gimmicky? Yeah, sure, but that depends on the degree to which you’re willing to accept the idea of an association between visual stimulus and idea 
generation. If you know that a fresh view can spark a fresh idea, you’ll be shaking like mad. If not, the shake-to-change feature won’t be missed if you turn it off.

That this app comes from Apimac, a well-established Mac developer, is not surprising. Apimac has a history of creating light-footprint software of limited but well-targeted functionality. Apimac Timer is a 
good example. It’s a timer. That’s all it does. And it does the job well. Same goes for Idea. One function. Fun to use. Highly effective.

Two problems. One is that the landscape keyboard can’t be invoked.  It’s portrait mode or nothing. The other, more annoying problem, is it’s buggy.

After a few trial uses, it crashed on launch. Re-booting the iPhone, which usually brings troublesome apps into line, didn’t work. It had to be deleted and re-installed, which meant losing my notes. Grrr.

Here’s a clear case of an urgently needed update. Apimac? Hello? Get onto it.

The current version is 1.0.1, priced at $1.19. Download it now if you’re burning to try it out, or wait for the update if you demand reliability.

Idea is compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch and requires OS 2.2.1 or later.

Chris Oaten is a former editor of Australian Macworld magazine and a self-proclaimed software junkie.

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