Article in Mobile, App Review, iPad categories.

Unstuck for the iPad: Your Virtual Agony Aunt

Mrs. Ina Rut is having a problem. She can’t seem to decide which way to take her newly launched fashion blog. What a waffler. Likewise,…

Mrs. Ina Rut is having a problem. She can’t seem to decide which way to take her newly launched fashion blog. What a waffler. Likewise, Joe Mellow’s inability to distinguish his college radio talk show from dozens of others makes him a tunnel visionary.

A couple of years ago, Mrs. Rut may have written to her local newspaper’s advice columnist, while the logical Mr. Mellow might have made a pros and cons list of his ideas. Today, SYPartners’ Unstuck app for the iPad helps you work through the challenge at hand, peel away the layers, and get to the bottom of your stuck moment, raising this basic process of mind mapping to a whole new level, with gorgeous graphics to boot.

Getting started is easy; you can log in with your Facebook account. The first step is diagnostics: Unstuck asks you to pick 3 cards that define how you’re feeling. Once that is determined, the app takes into account all the different parties that may be involved (you, you and another person, or you and others) and asks you about the nature of the problem (personal, professional, or both). You can follow this up by further explaining your reasons for being stuck, or by browsing through the flashcards provided to see if any of the suggested issues are similar to yours. Each level of this step-by-step process is accompanied by brilliantly colored infographics and easy to understand workflows, making it very user-friendly, even for the most technophobic user.

Thus, based on the diagnostic developed by the information you provide, Unstuck helps you identify what type of stuck moment you’re having—maybe you’re acting like a “waffler,” being unable to decide between possibilities, or you’re being a “tunnel visionary,” needing to take off your blinders and open yourself up to new opportunities. Sometimes problems can prove so overwhelming so as to block out all light and rational thought. That’s where Unstuck helps you understand the reasons for those moments and then suggests how you can break free and move forward.

Mind mapping and journaling are not new processes. Simplistic mind mapping applications, such as Mindjet’s MindManager, have been around for a while and have garnered loyal followings. MindManager offers great sophistication for your buck, along with extensive integration with the Microsoft Office suite and support for common databases like MySQL and Access. Intensive topic sorting, filtering, and text search tools are included for the cool price of $349. For all the tools it offers however, MindManager seems to have a very limited scope, only allowing you to create your own mind map, making changes as they occur to you alone.

Where Unstuck differs from MindManager is that it doesn’t provide recurring answers to your gamut of challenging moments. Instead the app attempts to learn and modify the advice it provides, taking into account that users’ needs are at the mercy of circumstance and are constantly changing. By attempting to recreate real-life situations, Unstuck can be used for the same problem over and over again without rendering itself redundant. It’s the next best thing to having a coach on-call, and here’s the kicker: it’s free.

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