Tips and Tricks: Apps to make a student’s life easier

“There’s an app for that” is a phrase that echoes within our world of smart phones, smarter tablets and even smarter laptops. Many are unaware of the helpful apps out there, apps that can potentially make the college student’s life just a tad bit easier with the simple click of a button. Here is a list of handy, must-have apps for a variety of devices used on a daily, if not hourly, basis:

Sleep Time

Category: Productivity

Available from: Apple App Store, Google Play

Sleep: one of life’s necessities that students everywhere seem to forget about when they begin their college careers. Sleep Time is an alarm clock app that helps users get the most out of those precious slumber hours. By monitoring movements during sleep, the app determines when the user enters the lightest sleep phases, as opposed to heavier sleep phases. The algorithm, developed with the help of Stanford University scientists, sets off the alarm in the morning during the lightest sleep phase, a 30 minute window, causing a person to wake up feeling rested and relaxed. There is a free version and an upgraded $1.99 version available.


Category: Reference

Available from: Apple App Store, Google Play

CamDictionary is a powerful personal translator app. Overall, the app recognizes 16 languages and supports pronunciation for 18 languages, including Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Italian and English. A special component allows for the user to take a picture of a word to translate and it also contains text-to-speech capabilities. There is a free version and an upgraded $1.99 version available.

Adobe Voice

Category: Productivity

Available from: Apple App Store for iPad

Adobe Voice ensures that “there’s power in your voice.” An animated video generator, based off stories the user narrates, the app is an alternative to the traditional presentation format. “You can put images up and they’re animated; you can do voiceovers slide to slide,” Educational Technology Services Coordinator Allen Goldberg said. Adobe Voice is free.


Category: Social

Available from: Apple App Store, Google Play

“For busy people dying to say more than a Note, 140 Characters or a filtered photo will allow, this is the app for you.” Many college students lack the time to mastermind complicated blog interfaces. Dayre grants a user the ability to conveniently blog from a mobile device. A place to accumulate small memories from throughout the day with pictures, text, sound bites and video, the app creates a personalized URL to store all of a blogger’s content. Dayre is free.


Category: Productivity

Available from: Evernote website for download on Mac and Windows, Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, Blackberry World, WebOS App Catalog

Evernote is a note tool taken to the extreme. Available on basically all devices, the app provides the user with an account to keep documents, which can include lists to research report drafts to web clips to handwritten notes, all in one place. “It’s a great organizational tool,” Goldberg said. “It allows you to easily keep and organize notes and images and links.” Tags allows users to effortlessly search through information saved on an account. Some character recognition is also available. The best part is that Evernote syncs among devices. “It is sort of a container that you can put anything in,” Goldberg continued. He noted that the only version that students will really need is the free version.


Category: Utility

Available from: Apple App Store

With Iconical, iPhone and iPad users are able to customize their app icons either by drawing on them Snapchat-style or downloading an image. However, more importantly for busy college students, the app allows for the creation of shortcuts on home screens. Frequently contact someone? Add a shortcut that will call, email, or even Skype them automatically. Tweet often? Add a shortcut directly to the compose Tweet page. Over 14,000 apps are supported, with over 200 apps supporting additional shortcut options. Iconical is $1.99.

Dropbox Mobile and Box

Category: Utility

Dropbox available from: Dropbox website for download on Mac and Windows, Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store (for BlackBerry and Kindle Fire, visit their website for install instructions)

Box available from: Box website for download on Mac and Windows, Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, Blackberry World

Dropbox and Box are cloud-based storage solutions for college students. “You basically get space in the cloud to put anything you want,” Goldberg said. “You can put stuff up there, you can move it down.” He urged students that work in the open-use lab to have these file back-up tools. Dropbox Mobile allows for a Dropbox account to be taken on the go. Through the app, users can upload photos and videos to their Dropbox and share files with family and friends. On the iPhone and iPad versions, files can be added to Favorites for quicker, offline viewing. On the Android version, files can be edited. A new Dropbox account comes with 2GB of free storage space, with 500MB added every time the user recommends a new person. Box is another cloud -based storage tool that has similar capabilities to Dropbox; however, Box starts the user off with 10GB of free storage.


Category: Music

Available from: Spotify website for download on Windows and Mac, Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store

Spotify is a college student’s best friend. Create and subscribe to playlists, discover new and old music, share favorite tunes with friends and family, Spotify is the holy grail for avid music listeners. A free account provides access to the desktop version, which allows for the search and play of what feels like any musician out there, and to the mobile app, which allows for the search and shuffle of all those artists. Students receive a 50 percent discount ($4.99 monthly) on the Premium Account upgrade, which gives the user access to any music anytime, from the desktop and mobile version, online and offline with no ads and greater sound quality.

Microsoft Office

Category: Productivity

Available from: Microsoft Office store website for Mac and Windows, Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store

“Here’s the reality of Office, it is still the Office productivity package. You’re going to use it here. If you don’t use it here, you’re going to use it when you leave here,” Goldberg said. “You might as well make sure that you know how to use it.” There is a $80 four-year subscription for students, which also includes online versions and the iPad version. The iPad version is sold separately for $7 a month that can be turned on and off for when the need for Office on the go arises. Microsoft just updated their iPad and iPhone versions to include editing documents for free.


Category: Productivity

Available from: Apple App Store, Android version in beta phase

Humin revolutionizes the default contacts book on phones. The app captures meaningful context about every new person a user encounters in an attempt “to bring a human touch back to our interactions.” By storing information like meeting place and names of other people present, Humin replaces alphabetical lists with “met last week” or “lives in Sarasota” searches to find certain contacts. The apps also provides information on future encounters, such as who will be in a meeting tomorrow, who is visiting a user’s city, etc. Humin is free.


Category: Productivity

Available from: Apple App Store, Google Play

“IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: ‘if this then that.’” Coined as “recipes,” connections between a “trigger” (the “this”) and an “action” (the “that”) are built with “channels.” An example of a recipe is as follows: the trigger, or the this, “if I checked in on Foursquare,” activates the action, or the that, “post a status on Facebook.” The base channels in the example are Foursquare and Facebook, but there are 142 channels in total to chose from, including Instagram, Twitter, reddit, Tumblr and YouTube. IFTTT is free.

Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Gmail

Category: Productivity

Available from: Apple App Store, Google Play

Google is New College’s email provider, which comes with many useful facets. One of the most important, Google Drive, allows for documents to be stored in a student’s account, which contains currently 25GB of space. “They’re actually about to make it unlimited for education,” Goldberg said. Along with a Google Drive app, available for both Android and iPhone is Google Docs and Google Sheets, easy ways to access, edit and create documents and spreadsheets on the go. “Google apps in terms of collaboration, that’s where they’re really strong,” Goldberg continued.

Category: Productivity

Available from: website, Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store

New College has a subscription to with five seats which are given out on a regular basis. is an online video tutorial and training website. The top of the webpage asks the learner: “What do you want to learn today?” “It is a great learning library,” Goldberg said. “It is everything from how to use Excel to Photoshop.” There are technical skills, business skills, general organizational tools taught through the videos. “We have these seats, students should take advantage of them,” Goldberg said. “We are trying to get more of them.”

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