10 Apps Every Student Should Have on Their Phone

10 Apps Every Student Should Have on Their Phone
Illustration: Vicky Leta

In 2021, a smartphone and a tablet are a uni student’s lifeline. Thanks to innovative and useful apps, these devices can help you manage your tasks, keep your calendar, and even help you be a better student through innovative note taking, flashcard, and visualisation tools.

Here are some of the most useful apps every college student should have on their phone before the semester starts.

TickTick

Photo: TickTick Photo: TickTick

Want to get ahead in school? Start with organising your life. It can be task lists, reading lists, or just a list of meetups. TickTick is an app that will help you do all of that. The basic version can serve as a simple tasks app, with multiple different to-do lists, but you can go for the premium version to add collaboration features, unlimited tags, notes, and more.

TickTick offers natural language task input and calendar integration, allowing you to manage your tasks and stay on top of your class schedule. It’s available on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, and it has a really good web app as well.

Notion

Evernote used to be the king of note taking apps, but Notion is a strong contender to the throne. And with its integrations and API, Notion is a lot more than just a note taking app. But you don’t need to worry about all that.

The best thing about notion is that it’s extensible — and free. You can go crazy with the customisations and integrations without paying for a premium tier.

At its heart, what makes Notion great is its blocks and linking system. Each note can be broken down into multiple blocks (like tables), and you can link notes to each to create an extensive, custom, note taking system.

It might feel a bit too overwhelming when you get started, but trust us, if you put in enough time, you’ll get great results out of the Notion system.

The only glaring issue with Notion is that it doesn’t have a really useful offline mode. If that is important for you, try out Evernote or Microsoft OneNote. And if you get too overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do, try a quick meditation.

Google Calendar

Photo: Ascannio, Shutterstock Photo: Ascannio, Shutterstock

University puts you in charge of your own schedule, and there’s often no such thing as a linear course plan. This is where a calendar app will come in handy.

If your school offers its own calendar, you can just import it into the Google Calendar app. Or you can create a collaborative calendar with your classmates.

Don’t like Google Calendar? You can use third-party apps like Fantastical or aCalendar.

Quizlet

Your smartphone or tablet can also help you study for your exams. Quizlet sure can — this crowd-sourced learning and flashcards app allows you to create your own flashcards or you can import entire card decks created by other students.

Quizlet is available for iOS and Android.

Google Workspace

Photo: Nopparat Khokthong, Shutterstock Photo: Nopparat Khokthong, Shutterstock

There is a good chance your college or university runs on Google Workspace. You might be too old for Google Classroom, but your assignments and submissions might still happen on Google Docs and Google Drive.

While the Google Suite works best on a laptop browser, you can still use the mobile apps (Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides) to view documents, make small edits, and for sharing.

Forest

While your smartphone can be helpful when you’re studying, it can also become a huge distraction. Forest can help with that. Through attractive artwork, the focus app guilts you into paying attention to your studying by forcing you to ignore your phone in order to plant and cultivate virtual (and real) trees.

Using the app, you set up a study timer, plant a seed, and then set your phone aside. As long as you don’t touch your phone until the timer goes off, you’re good. Your tree will grow. If you can’t make it that long, your tree won’t survive. It’s a simple, yet powerful tool for detaching from social media.

Forest is available on iOS and Android.

Adobe Scan

In university, you’ll end up taking a lot of photos of documents and text. It can be a quick picture of a friend’s notes or a photo of an equation on the whiteboard seconds before it’s erased by your professor.

The problem is that these photos are rarely useful. You just take them and then forget about them. Next time you need to scan something, do it in Adobe Scan. It’s a simple and easy-to-use app that has built-in OCR, which will let you copy the text, right out of the photo.

Adobe Scan is available for iOS and Android.

GoodNotes 5

If you have an iPad with Apple Pencil and you plan on taking handwritten notes during lectures, try out GoodNotes 5 ($US7.99 ($11)). Yes, Apple’s Notes app has a good note taking feature, but GoodNotes is miles ahead.

The app has built-in organisation based on notebooks. You get customisable backgrounds for different types of note taking, and there’s handwriting OCR built-in.

This means you can search through hand-written notes and copy them out as text. You also get a huge array of pen, pencil, and colour options for creating visually engaging notes.

MindMeister

Sometimes, writing paragraphs upon paragraphs of notes doesn’t cut it. If you’re a visual learner, creating a mind map or a timeline to understand a complex subject will be a lot more helpful.

This is where an online tool like MindMeister can really help. You can use this web-based tool to create and collaborate on mind maps from any device. The service lets you create three mind maps for free. If you want more, you can get a $US2.49 ($3)/month premium subscription.

MindMeister is available on all major desktop and mobile platforms, but it doesn’t have a native app for iPhone or iPad. If you’re looking for an experience that is natively designed for iPhone and iPad, check out MindNode.

My Study Life

My Study Life is an organisation app specifically designed for students.

The app will help you organise your class schedule, assignments, tasks, and more. The app’s calendar feature was designed specifically for students, with weekly and bi-weekly class rotations in mind. The app has a customisable reminders feature as well.

The best feature? It’s free. The app’s design is nothing to write home about, it does the job just fine. You can use it on the web, and it’s available for iOS and Android.

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