Aren’t smartphones just the best? Considering how easy they so often render daily life, even cash-strapped students and families might consider them a valuable investment this back-to-school season. Especially when one looks at the number of applications available to better organize classes, events, activities, and basic needs as well as supplement classroom lessons. Androids, iPhones, and the like might be pricy, but they definitely pay off. Read on to check out our picks for the very best smartphone apps that can help students this back-to-school season.
Are you a teacher? Check out our teacher’s edition of this list!
Productivity & Organization
Never miss an important document with the highly acclaimed Dropbox, an app that syncs between devices and makes accessing files a painless procedure.
If there’s one thing college kids need to wring their hands over, it’s money. Personal finance juggernaut Mint.com presents a free app to help anyone — not just young’uns — keep track of their expenditures and savings on the go.
Make and keep multimedia notes so you absolutely never forget anything important for classes, extracurricular activities, and anything else.
This organizer for the iPhone and Android devices specifically targets students, allowing them to stay on top of their assignments, exams, homework, events, and more.
iPhone users wanting to know their exact GPAs take advantage of this special calculator to make it so.
- Remember the Milk:
Remember the Milk isn’t just about grocery shopping! The incredibly popular app allows downloaders a quick, painless way to draw up to-do lists and keep track of their daily duties.
Our list may be about “back to school,” but it’s never too early to start networking for internships and/or jobs and scoring advice from industry professionals.
Manage Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and LinkedIn accounts all at once thanks to the stellar stylings of the Hootsuite interface.
Save time and money by renting textbooks through Chegg, a service available to any student via the web, but only available on the iPhone when it comes to a mobile presence.
- Flashcards* and AnkiDroid Flashcards:
Create, download, and share digital flashcards perfect for quizzing yourself and others on nearly every academic subject out there.
Reading & Writing
When a particularly relevant or interesting website or blog presents itself, Instapaper makes it possible to save for offline reading and sharing.
Android fans desiring a simple, straightforward word processor use Writer to take down notes or save snippets for the Great American Novel they’ll someday publish but probably not.
Parents hoping to nurture literacy in their children will love the Touchy Books that allow them to interact with multimedia stories and learn to read at the same time.
Listen to thousands of audiobooks for $14.95 a month — kind of a steep price, but worth looking into for audiobook enthusiasts and the hearing-impaired.
Convert that Android or iPhone into a home for ebooks with the Kindle app and catch up on established classics and current bestsellers alike.
Foreign language students with access to an iPhone or iPhone Touch use iTranslate with Google Translate, Free Translation, and Babel Fish to help them through small challenges.
- Classic Text to Speak Engine and Speak it! Text to Speech:
For the hearing-impaired or students who prefer listening to their notes, these apps convert written words into clear audio.
Sync iPhones with Macs or use Dropbox alongside this iOS text writing and editing device, perfect for authoring papers a little bit at a time when a few spare moments pop up.
Bibliophile students looking for their next literary fix will love networking with other bookish types over at Goodreads and learning what all sits on the shelves of the world.
- MiniMod Reading for Details Lite:
Great for teaching newer readers how to grow their competency skills, with challenges all about keeping texts close and details closer.
- The World Factbook:
iPhone fans with a penchant for all things geographical can download this annually-updated app (backed by the CIA!) for a quick look at information regarding every nation in the world.
Try not to slip into hypochondria mode, OK? Still, though, WebMD is a great app to keep on hand when trying to figure out a health issue.
- Black’s Law Dictionary:
Be sure to download the latest edition and keep $54.99 on hand, because Black’s Law Dictionary stands as an essential download for anyone hoping to enter the legal field someday.
Scan the barcode of any food product and receive detailed information about its nutritional value, as well as alternative purchases with more nourishing qualities.
Learn how to do pretty much anything with more than 120,000 instructions uploaded by experts and non-experts from around the world.
Maps, Docs, Earth, Search (with enhancements!), and other offerings make life just that much easier to maneuver on the day-to-day.
- Dictionary.com – Dictionary & Thesaurus – Free:
When the words just won’t come, that’s where this top-notch app (which also happens to be joyfully free) comes in and shines.
The ubiquitous open source encyclopedia is now available on the smartphone, thus ending arbitrary pop culture arguments much, much faster than before.
- Wolfram Alpha:
Probably the app to end all apps, Wolfram Alpha hosts pretty much everything students need for both classes and to satisfy their own curiosities.
Watch some of the world’s greatest lectures from some of the world’s greatest minds from the comfort of a smartphone screen.
This crowdsourced safety app maps out instances of harassment and discriminatory behaviors, including verbal and physical assault, and allows students to visualize the most dangerous sections of their cities and campuses.
If the $19.99 per month subscription plan is feasible, StreetSafe provides two services protecting the lives of users. One involves a silent alarm that dials 911 in an emergency, while the other connects anyone scared of their surroundings with an individual trained to advise them calmly and alert the proper authorities in case of anything compromising.
- Flashlight, Brightest Flashlight Free, and Flashlight Free:
Turn that smartphone into peace of mind when walking in unfamiliar territory with these fabulous digital flashlights.
- Silent Bodyguard:
Available for the iPhone and Blackberry, Silent Blackberry uses GPS tracking to discreetly send emergency messages to trusted contacts in the event something ugly goes down.
Students who must take public transportation take advantage of this iPhone app to learn which buses meet or fail the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s standards and report any violations they encounter.
- First Aid by American Red Cross:
This free download for iPhone and Android users teaches basic first aid techniques anytime, anywhere and definitely stands as a worthwhile bandwidth investment.
- Circle of 6:
Pick six trusted individuals and keep tabs on one another’s whereabouts and actions in order to lower the risk of victimization. iPhone only.
- Emergency Rescue Alarm:
For use on the Android, the Emergency Rescue Alarm provides three very loud, very common signals to alert the proper authorities on a disaster or crime’s whereabouts.
- Marine Martial Arts MCRP 3-02B and Marine Martial Arts:
While you probably won’t walk away from these apps ready to teach Predators a thing or two, they do offer up some great self-defense training tips.
- ICE: In Case of Emergency:
In the event of a scenario where you go unresponsive, the ICE app makes first responders’ jobs faster and easier by providing them with medical information, emergency contacts, and other valuable, potentially life-saving bits of data.
- Free Graphing Calculator and Algeo Graphing Calculator:
Instead of lugging around a giant TI machine, take advantage of smartphone technology and convert a smartphone into a fully functioning graphing calculator.
- Star Walk and Sky Map:
Line up these apps with the heavens and see which constellations currently dot the sky in addition to learning even more about basic astronomy.
- iDevBooks – Educational Math Apps:
iDevBooks actually provides a suite of apps dedicated to teaching math principles to a few different age ranges and skill levels, so pick the most appropriate one and use it for review purposes!
- The Elements:
The Elements exists as one of the iDevices’ finest achievements, offering an interactive multimedia journey through the periodic table.
Read Popular Science articles online and off and share them with other enthusiastic STEM buffs.
- Pop Math Lite:
This award-winning, kid-approved app targets younger students and trains them in the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
- Space Physics:
Learn core physics concepts through a super fun, super popular game with a simple premise — bounce a ball from one location to another.
Geometry students with iPhones rejoice, as Apollonius provides a stellar method for constructing, exploring, and understanding shapely models.
- Math Ref:
With more than 1,400 formulas, theorems, and more represented, this iPhone app helps studying for math homework and exams breeze by just a bit faster.
- Human Anatomy:
Human Anatomy works magic for Android-toting medical and biology students requiring a quick glimpse at how everything fits together.