Besides being able to make calls (wait phones can do that?!) smartphones and tablets can be used for so much more than Facebook and cat photos, and the power of technology can be harnessed to make your life in university so much easier! Here I present to you (in no particular order) several of the most useful apps that have gotten me through school.
aCalendar (Free: Android)
A good replacement for the stock calendar app found on your phone. Includes to do list, as well as tasks. Fully integrates with google calendar. Particularly during exam time, the to do list has been incredibly helpful for me. The premium version is called aCalendar +.
Image courtesy of Google Play
CamScanner (Free: Android, iOS, Windows)
Alternate: Microsoft Office Lens
Image courtesy of CamScanner
Google Keep (Free: Android, iOS)
Sometimes you are in class, and need to jot down a quick note, number, or fact. Keep is a notepad app which syncs between your phones, computers, and tablets. A lot of my “quick reference” notes are on Keep, where they can be accessed as needed!
Alternate: icloud notes
Image courtesy of Google Keep
OneNote (Free: Android, iOS, Windows)
|Image courtesy of OneNote|
When you have a full course load, it can sometimes be tough to keep track of the countless powerpoints, assigned readings, supplementary exercise sheets, etc… OneNote is an awesome solution to this. Upload your powerpoints, pdfs, written notes, and videos onto your “workbook” and you have everything in one place ready for immediate access. Better yet, you can jot notes down beside or on your slides once they are on a one note book. The other really cool feature for me, was the ability to make an empty page, format it to look like lined paper, and take written notes directly into my workbook. This is the best way to combine digital with written schoolwork, and has helped save me a lot of time!
Dropbox (Free: Android, iOS, Windows)
|Image courtesy of Drop Box|
Collaboration is a huge part of university work, and for group assignments, a program such as Dropbox is essential. On some of my teams, we have a group Dropbox folder. Any file we want to share with the group we simply drag and drop, and the file automatically syncs to everyone’s Dropbox. Even for solo work, I use Dropbox to have access to my documents between computers and portable devices.
Alternates: Google Drive, One Drive
Google Docs (Free: Android, iOS, Windows)
When I was in undergrad, I remember working on an essay with a classmate, while they were simultaneously doing the same thing . It would become really messy when we tried to send each other our work and then consolidate everything into one document. Fast forward to a few years later, the last group paper I wrote, 4 of us were working on the exact same document simultaneously, watching each other make changes in real time. This becomes incredibly handy when you are unable to be physically present at a group meeting, but would like to follow along, or contribute. Bonus - not only is it free, but you already have your own @ualberta secure account.
WhatsApp (Android, iOS, Windows)
Instant messaging across platforms and with groups. I have used this app to keep track of group work on multiple occasions, and it’s much easier and more convenient than sending emails.
Alternate: Touch, kik, iMessage
Image courtesy of WhatsApp
Sleep Cycle ($0.99: Android, iOS)
One of the most important things to ensure success in school is getting a good night’s sleep. This app helps you do just that. Set the alarm for the time you would like to wake up by, and the app tracks your movements during the night in order to wake you up in the lightest phase of sleep. I use it every night to track my sleep. It even keeps statistics on other factors which may affect sleep quality, since you can add notes such as “drank an espresso at 11:30 p.m.” to your log. I certainly thought it was a gimmick when I first began using it, however that first morning when I felt like I woke up before the alarm clock, had a truly refreshing sleep, and DIDN’T hit snooze, I knew I had found a keeper!
Image courtesy of Sleep Cycle
If you’re like me, your research papers often have a fact, followed by “(CITATION HERE)” and then when it comes to filling in the actual citation, you forget where it came from. Refworks provides an answer to your bibliography woes. This is an online reference management system that is available to all U of A students. It lets you search your articles, add them to a database, and organize them for easy access in the future. When it comes to actually creating your bibliography, Refworks takes the hard work out of it, and can even export your works cited in formats such as BibTeX.
While we’re on the library subject, the U of A Libraries are a phenomenal place to find even more resources to help make school easier. Often they can point you to educational apps, and electronic resources that you may not have known about otherwise. A large amount of my learning during medicine came from apps, which I found from the library website!
Google Now (Android, iOS,)
This is going on here because it saved my skin a few weeks ago. Google Now is a smart assistant, initially for android, but now on other platforms. This program provides personalized and location based information including articles to read, weather, and traffic information. A few weeks ago, I was out with some friends, and we forgot where we had parked the car. After some time walking around aimlessly, I flipped my phone to google now, and it had marked down the exact GPS location where we had left the car: Amazing!
Image courtesy of Google Play
Image courtesy of Google Play
Albert is a final year MD/MBA student. When not at the books, he enjoys playing guitar, squash, dancing, cooking, travelling, and adrenaline sports. As a kid, Albert would often throw up whenever startled, to the dismay of haunted house employees. With a stronger stomach, he intends to try unique food on every continent.