Smartphone Apps to Foster Creativity and Develop Ideas

Creativity doesn’t always happen by accident. Many times, a brilliant idea, essay, or concept results from methodical and strategic activities like brainstorming.

I’m presenting a group of mobile apps that offer excellent tools for capturing ideas and for thinking about them creatively. Use these to write down your thoughts when inspiration suddenly hits, or to flesh them out into more fully formed ideas.


Evernote is such a frequently praised utility; it’s almost a cliché to mention it. But if you haven’t gotten on board with it, give it a try. As a writer, I’m constantly using Evernote to gather ideas, examples, quotations, and links for stories.

I used to create reference notes with Microsoft Word, but would spend great amounts of time shuffling through open windows on my computer screen and opening and closing files. With Evernote, I don’t need to assign file names or press “save.” Instead, my musings are autosaved and kept in a searchable database. I can keep hundreds of notes in a way that would be a nightmare to manage in a traditional word processing program.

For iPhone and iPad (iTunes), Android (Google Play)(All versions free)


Whereas Evernote works fantastically for creating notes, WriteRoom is an invaluable tool for writing rough drafts. WriteRoom is exceptional for what it doesn’t have: Any formatting buttons or options. Instead, the app only features a plain black screen in which you enter text.

It’s a wonderful change-of-pace from writing on a desktop computer, where e-mail alerts, social media, and colorful icons vie for your attention. Once you’re finished writing, it’s easy to get your piece into a more robust program for formatting and editing.

For iPhone and iPad (iTunes) ($4.99)


Explore your ideas with this beautiful app. While a whiteboard mind-map will always have its place, Mindmeister makes it easy to create and share mind maps. Take a bit of time to memorize its mobile phone and website shortcuts, and you’ll be pouring out ideas effortlessly with this tool. Using color codes and formatting, your product will look great on a high resolution screen like that of the new iPhones, iPads or the Samsung Galaxy.

For iPhone (iTunes), iPad (iTunes) and Android (Google Play) (All versions free)


Though a task manager is not directly related to creativity, a good one can help you think with greater clarity and focus. You’ll simply think less about what you need to do, and think more about what you’re working on at the moment. (See “Getting Things Done” to learn more.)

Though there are many viable contenders for the “ideal” task management app, I personally enjoy and recommend Things. It’s easy for me to “unload” all my obligations and upcoming projects into this program, which offers multiple layers of organization. Unlike many other to-do apps, Things uses an open-ended tagging system, so I can sort my tasks according to criteria that matter to me.

For iPhone (iTunes)($9.99) and iPad (iTunes) ($19.99)

(Alternative: Wunderlist, which is also available for Android)

Classical Music and Classical Radio

These two apps, for iPhone and Android, provide easy-to-use means of accessing free classical music. The first one, Classical Music I: Master’s Collection, enables you to choose from a library of works, which you can stream. The second, Classical Radio for Android, offers a collection of links to classical music radio streams. Both feature beautiful interfaces, and are excellent for finding a quick fix of inspiration.

Classical Music for iPhone and iPad (iTunes)(free) and Classical Radio for Android (Google Play) (free)

Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for, a site about fashionable aprons and kitchen style.

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