Useful Mobile Academic Apps for Students

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

The world of mobile apps is constantly changing and growing, with both Apple’s iTunes store and Google’s Android store having over one million apps each. With such a vast number of apps, it can be quite difficult to figure out which are best suited for your needs. So today we’re going to talk about apps for your tablet or other mobile device, specifically those designed to help your academic pursuits here in college.

FirstClass – This free app is a mobile version of the FirstClass email client that you have on your computer desktop and it has much the same functionality. The big difference is that it only has symbols for each function, no written label. But once you figure out what each button is for you’ll be able to get your email on device. It’s available for Apple iOS devices such as the iPad, the iPod Touch, and the iPhone, and for Android devices.

DropBox & Google Drive – These free apps connect you to cloud-based storage sites that allow you to sync your data across devices. And by data I mean any document, spreadsheet, photo, or other file that you want to save. The way they work is that you install the software on your computer and the app on your mobile device and then any data that is saved to the Dropbox or Google Drive folder is then immediately and automatically synced to every device that you have connected. Now what that means in practical terms is that the data will be saved on every computer (whether desktop or laptop) that you have connected and will be instantly accessible on every mobile device. These two are rather similar when used on your computer or your mobile device. Both offer free services. Dropbox is probably a bit more simple to install and setup, though it offers less space in its free package, currently only 2gb. Google Drive, though, provides more space for free (currently 15gb) and offers much more inexpensive packages if you’d like to add more storage space. There are other cloud storage providers and apps, but these two are known for providing quality software for both Mac and Windows computers and for both iOS and Android devices.
iOS & Android
Google Drive:
iOS & Android

CloudOn – Is a free app for both iOS and Android devices that mimics the Microsoft Office 2010 versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and includes most of their functionality. When connected to one of your cloud-based storage sites, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, you can create, review, edit, and share your Microsoft Office documents. While Microsoft has introduced Office for both iOS and Android, the free versions are limited and the full versions require a membership to Office 365. CloudOn, conversely, is free, which is great for the budget-minded college student.

GoodReader & iAnnotate PDF – These two apps are PDF readers that allow you to highlight, underline, and annotate your PDFs, quickly and efficiently. Both allow you to save an edited file directly to Dropbox or Google Drive or to create an annotated copy in the app’s file manager. While GoodReader is available for iOS only, iAnnotate is available for both iOS and Android. And while neither is a free app on iOS, iAnnotate is free for Android.
iAnnotate PDF:
iOS & Android

ReferenceME – Is a free app for both iOS and Android devices that, when you scan a book’s bar code, instantly creates an easily exportable bibliographic entry in whatever format you need, such as Chicago, MLA, or Turabian. This will save you an enormous amount of time when you’re writing your research papers, since creating a bibliography or a works cited page always takes much longer than most people plan.

iBooks, Kindle, & Play Books – All mobile devices have ebook readers and these three are from three of the primary companies. iBooks is the app for Apple ebooks that you purchased on iTunes and it also allows you to import an *.epub format ebook. It is available only on iOS, though there are other *.epub ebook readers available on Android. The Kindle app allows you to download and read books purchased, rented, or on loan from and is available for both iOS and Android. Play Books connects you to the Google book store and allows you to download and read books that you have gotten from there. It is also available on both iOS and Android.

iTunes U & Khan Academy – These two free apps provide entire college level courses for many topics in the form of podcasts and/or videos. While iTunes U is available only on iOS, Khan Academy is available on iOS and Android. In the Khan Academy app, many of the courses are broken down into bite-sized videos that introduce and explain ideas and concepts, building upon each other as the course moves forward. iTunes U has courses from many different colleges and universities which are broken down into normal class length video or audio. These podcasts and videos are an excellent supplement to your courses and coursework here at UMaine. Just remember, though, these are not UMaine courses and are not a substitute for going to class or doing your classwork.
Khan Academy:
iOS & Android

Voice Recorder – Both iOS and Android have a number of free voice recorder apps which allow you to make recordings. Since there are a number of different options, your best bet is to find one that works best for you. Just remember, if you are going to record a class lecture, you need to get permission from the instructor first.