Earlier this summer, I was trying to find a way to remember how to open a very confusing door at a hotel I was staying at, and decided to download Popplet to see if it would help me find a way to organize instructions. I was pleasantly surprised at how simple this app is to use and never had trouble remembering how to open that door again. Here is my unbiased review of Popplet and how it can be used by users with low vision.
What is Popplet?
Popplet is a web and iOS app that lets users create their own concept maps and diagrams for brainstorming activities called Popplets. A free version of the app allows for one Popplet to be created at a time, and the $4.99 version of the app allows for unlimited Popplets. Download Popplet on the iOS App Store here or access the app through a web browser here.
About my device
I tested Popplet on a 5th generation iPad running iOS 12.1- read more about my iPad accessibility settings for low vision here. Popplet requires iOS 8.0 or later to run. I also tested Popplet using the Google Chrome browser.
The Popplet app uses the following technology skills:
- Basic gesture controls such as tapping
- Typing text
- Drawing with your finger
- Saving items to another location such as the gallery
Based on this, the Popplet app requires limited technology skills and can be used everywhere from elementary school classrooms to businesses as a way of organizing information and outlining what needs to be done.
The app opens on the last Popplet that was edited in the app so that users can easily view what they were last working on. The background is by default a light blue color but can be changed by tapping the colored square underneath of the post title. I found the app easy to look at for a long period of time since the colors weren’t too harsh on my eyes- read more about how colored backgrounds affect the readability of text here.
On my iPad, I found that Popplet worked well with the Zoom screen magnifier, though it was somewhat blurry when used at the full magnification level of 500%. It also looked great with color inversion, which helps to make colors and backgrounds easier to see for people with certain eye conditions. VoiceOver was also easy to follow and I found that I was easily able to read and edit information inside each square- read more about VoiceOver here.
As for the finished products, I was able to read my Popplet in PDF form as well as in the web browser with ease, but alt text was not shared in the JPEG export- more on those in a minute.
How to create a Popplet
Here’s how to create your very own Popplet:
- Open the Popplet app
- Double tap on the screen with one finger to add your first box
- Type inside the box by tapping the center. Adjust font size by tapping on the “T” in the text options pane on the right
- Change the color of the box by tapping the first circular icon on the bottom of the box
- Connect another box by tapping on the top, bottom, left, or right of the box and add information as desired
- When finished, tap, “export”
Ta-da, you’ve created your very own Popplet! Popplets created in the app are saved to the device and ones that are created in the web browser can be shared publicly or privately depending on your preference.
Adding images and drawings
In addition to being able to add text boxes, users can also add boxes with drawings and images by tapping on a box and then selecting the third or fourth circle icon that’s on the bottom of the box. Text can be added to these images as a way to caption them, or the images/drawings can just exist in their own box. I usually just add drawings because I have trouble seeing smaller images and prefer to add images separately.
Popplets can be exported into a PDF or JPEG format. They can either be emailed from the app or saved directly to the iPad. I use both file types equally, and I choose the file type depending on how I plan to share the Popplet.
How I use Popplet in PDF format
I use Popplets in the PDF file format for these things:
- Importing into Notability notes to annotate class assignments- read more about Notability here
- Creating instructions for class assignments
- Drawing a website map for organization
- Completing classroom assignments for brainstorming essays
- Inserting file printouts into class notes in Microsoft OneNote- read more about OneNote here.
How I use Popplet in JPEG format
I use Popplets in the JPEG file format for these things:
- Saving information to my phone gallery
- Creating graphics in PowerPoint- read more about creating graphics here and using PowerPoint here
- Sending a quick outline to a friend over text
- Writing out simple instructions I need to remember
- Organizing a flow chart for my programming class assignments which specifically require images
Popplet is a great simple tool for both inside and outside the classroom, and has helped me a lot with organizing information and instructions in a way that makes sense to me. I highly recommend trying the Popplet lite app first and seeing if it makes sense to get the paid version.