Platforms: Blackberry and iPhone
Maybe your teachers told you that cramming doesn’t work. Remember carrying all those flashcards in your backback to memorize Spanish verbs or American Presidents? Now you can do the same thing -- digitally – with Cram. Cram offers the ability to create both flash cards and multiple choice tests with automatically randomized answers. The study aids can be synced with Mac OS or shared with friends – meaning that you can share the work of preparing for a test with friends. When the test is done and gone, Cram will keep a record of your performance and track your progress. Maybe there is something to this whole cramming thing after all.
From Albania to Zanzibar, studying geography can be challenging – and fun. The Touch Atlas features more than 165 country maps to help you master geography or history. You can browse labeled countries, their capital cities, or peruse latitudes and longitudes by scrolling around the world. The app works without an Internet application, so you can study anywhere – more than the built-in maps app on the iPhone can do. So if you need to learn which body of water borders Thailand, you might just be better off scrolling a screen than cracking a tome.
Even though it features highly questionable spelling, iStudiez Pro is an easy and useful application that keeps track of your entire class schedule and assignments. Using detailed, color-coded class schedules, iStudiez gives you the ability to attach assignments to each course and also to input information into the calendar that shows when assignments are due. For high-schoolers and college students who are prone to losing paper planners, it’s invaluable. The app also integrates your address book, so you can send assignments to others in your class. For bonus points? iStudiez Pro is available in fourteen different languages! Reading your schedule in Czech every day might just teach you a thing or two.
Platforms: iPhone and BlackberryFree
All of Wikipedia on your phone? For free? It’s true, and it’s here – just released in August, Wikipedia’s free iPhone app allows you to access all the encyclopedic information you could ever want, on or offline. While no real academic scholar would suggest you base your research papers on information you read on Wikipedia, it is certainly a good place to start when you need to look up quick facts. Also recommended are the Wikipanion (free for the regular version, $4.99 for Wikipanion Plus), which some reviewers report can be better than the actual app.
Buying textbooks can be a big hassle and a huge cost – especially this fall. BigWords is a very nifty free iPhone application that lets users search a textbook price comparison search engine while on-the-go. While you browse the selection at your campus bookstore, you can also be online seeing how best to avoid getting gauged. The site says that using their search engine saves an average of $173 per student, but of course that would depend on how many books are needed. Regardless, BigWords is a big, free app that could save you bucks by finding better deals on textbooks. You could save enough to invest in a faster phone.
MyHomework is a cool way to keep track of projects and assignments. Unlike iStudiez, it’s free – and it is more focused on due dates and lists than keeping class schedules in hand. Everything is bright, easy-to-understand and color coded with cute sticky notes and tabs, so you’ll know when due dates are coming and when they’re late. Like iStudiez, you can transfer class information and homework assignments via email to friends. You can also sort your assignments to list homework by day or by class, making it easy to stay on top of your work. Now if only as much time was spent on doing the assignments as organizing them.
Mint.com Personal Finance
Platforms: iPhone (BlackBerry coming soon)
Figuring out finances while you’re in school is really tough. Fortunately, Mint has created a useful application (free) to keep tabs on your money while you’re on the fly. Taking advantage of the features of Mint.com, the app can keep tabs on purchases and your expenses, make graphs, and advise students on all sorts of money matters. The phone app automatically syncs with the website. You can set up the app to send alerts to your phone if you’re close to overdrawing, or if a check bounces. There’s no more excuse for being in the dark about financial matters – it’s easy to take control with apps like Mint.
P183 Graphing Calculator
Ah, graphing calculators, what fond memories you bring. Those giant gizmos made by Texas Instruments in the 1990s are long gone, but now you can use your phone to plot graphs and torture your calculus teachers with bugs. The PI83 Graphing Calculator is among the best, and for a price that would put $200 calculators to shame. The PI83 is based on the features of the Texas Instruments TI83, including over 100 different math functions. Better yet for teachers, the PI83 is harder to use for cheating – it time-stamps all the graphs so teachers can see when the app was opened and when the screenshot was taken, so they know that students didn’t close out of the program to look up answers elsewhere.
Platform: iPhone and Kindle
Reading is not going anywhere, even if the technology we use to read is rapidly changing. This fall, some colleges and universities will be handing out Kindles to students for use in classes. Even if you’re not among the lucky – or unlucky – few using e-readers, Stanza is a good way to try reading on your phone. It offers more than 50,000 books and periodicals available to download for free, and even more for purchase. Stanza also offers the user lots of control over the font size and appearance, which is helpful when you are reading on a teensy screen. Need a copy of War and Peace for English class, and quick? It’ll be right there, ready to go on your phone.
When Joni Mitchell told us that we are all stardust, I’m sure she meant the real kind – not the digital stardust you might find in your pocket. Even so, the stars are at your fingertips with Pocket Universe (http://www.craicdesign.com/) ($2.99). The app features more than 10,000 star objects and 88 constellations to peruse, next to the correct positions of all the planets. What if you’re looking for a specific star? The ‘Show Me’ option lets you start by pinpointing your location, pointing north and following your phone’s directions to find the location of the star. For amateur astronomers or just excitable lovebirds, stargazing is more fun when you know what you’re seeing!
Going off to college for the first time and don’t know how to decorate a tiny closet-looking room? Don’t bother with reading glossy magazines or asking around at IKEA. Instead, go straight to your phone to find the DesignYourDorm application. The app includes virtual 3D models of common dormitory room layouts, and it allows you to play around, adding desks, beds, and TVs to the room to see how everything fits – even collaborating with roommates on checklists. Of course, DesignYourDorm would like you to then purchase the items you’ll need for your teeny living space from their site. Still, the idea is a great one if it reduces the stress of moving into college for the first time (or the fifth time).
Platform: BlackBerry, iPhone
Heading back to school means running around nearly-constantly, and with all that rush it’s hard to sit down at a computer. The Amazon Mobile app allows you to do all your shopping on Amazon from your phone. It also has a feature called ‘Amazon Remembers’ that lets you snap a photo of something (it could be a chair, a book, or a particularly fetching shirt) and then searches Amazon for a similar product. In the textbook department, Amazon has lots of well-priced books, so you might find a much better deal that in your campus bookstore. A little warning: the app moves quickly and has access to all of the goods of Amazon.com, so be wary of the dangers of drinking and online shopping.
If you’d rather not buy your textbooks at all, CourseSmart is a great option. The app offers subscription-based, notes-capable access to more than 7,000 textbooks online. While the application is free, you will need an internet connection and preexisting subscriptions to the textbooks – easy to get if you have friends who bought the book. Though it’s difficult to take substantial notes on such a tiny device, the CourseSmart app could be really useful to take to class instead of lugging around a back-breaking amount of books. Electronic textbooks let trees stay in the ground, the company says, instead of turning into quickly-obsolete tomes.
ColorDict Universal Dictionary
ColorDict delivers some pretty cool word-power, in spite of its silly-sounding name. More than just a dictionary, ColorDict (Free) combines the functions of a thesaurus, dictionary, and language dictionary in one. You can even use it as a Bible dictionary, if you’re into that sort of thing. ColorDict works by accessing other online dictionaries to give you all the information you’d ever need to inform your word-choices. Additional dictionaries are being added all the time, so soon you may be able to use ColorDict to make up rhymes – in German!