With the academic year about to begin, and having already tackled the important issues of iWork vs. Office, it’s time to turn our attentions to the iPhone. With over 65,000 apps on the App Store, even subtracting all the iFart and iTip applications there are five I feel are indispensable for any college student’s life. These apps range from the practical to the whimsy — all school and no play makes for a grumpy Crumpy.
Evernote has quickly become the dumping ground for any information I come across on the Internet. I don’t even bother bookmarking anything anymore; I just clip it into Evernote. It’s very useful when I’m researching a paper — I’ll just tag an entry with the name of the paper, or create a notebook just for that class. Since Evernote keeps the URL for all clipped pieces, it’s very convenient when I go back to cite the work. I haven’t gotten to the point where it replaces a pen and paper notebook in class — or with my horrid handwriting, a text editor on my Mac. I do find myself combining the notes into an Evernote note. The iPhone app makes it very easy to reference a note in class, take notes, or clip URLs from Mobile Safari.
MobileMe iDisk (Free)
While I use Dropbox to sync my files between my Mac and my PC, the MobileMe iDisk app is forcing me to take a serious look at iDisk for cloud storage. It’s easy to throw files from instructors on my iDisk and view them on my iPhone. I take a ton of online classes and my instructors love PowerPoint. I can dump the syllabus, lectures, and any relevant PDFs on iDisk and read them on my commute. What’s also nice is it displays the files in whatever fonts were used in the document, even if they aren’t supported on the iPhone. You can also cache the most recently viewed files on your iPhone for viewing if you’re not attached to a network.
The other app forcing me to look at iDisk is Quickoffice, which can read and write files to your iDisk (except iWork files and .docx formats — the latter coming in a future update). While I certainly wouldn’t want to write a full-length research paper on the iPhone, the app is handy for quick edits while waiting for class to begin or updating the syllabus when the darn teacher can’t make up his or her mind on when projects are due. Not that that’s ever happened to me, mind you. Quickoffice also has better text formatting than Evernote, so it might be easier to take notes on.
Things has become my to-do manager of choice, especially when coupled with the desktop version ($49). Running you about $60 for the pair, it’s not cheap. Where it shines is in how easy it is to use. I’ll create a project for each assignment, and then group them in a big Area of Responsibility for each class. In class, I’ll update Things on my iPhone with assignments. Things also displays a badge showing how many items are due today — although, sadly, there’s no push notification for this
Don’t look at me like that. Until you’ve had to sit through a four-hour slide show on History of Architecture, with a professor droning on about buildings, you can’t talk to me about playing Peggle in class. In all seriousness, Peggle is an incredibly addicting game where it is easy to play a level or three waiting for class to begin.
Since every time I run through a series of recommended applications I neglect to mention someone’s favorite app, now it’s your turn: what applications do you find you can’t get through a school day without?