Student Blog: Mobile phone apps to help students

Five mobile apps for both iPhone and Android to help with productivity, organisation and study techniques at university.
April 15 2016

Mobile phones have a bad reputation within education, with the words “time wasters” and “distractions” being thrown around more often than a netball in a match. But what if mobile phones were proven to be helpful within education? I’ve found five mobile applications that have been godsends to me at university so far, and they help dispel the myth that mobile phone apps are useful only as procrastination tools.

Readability (Price: Free; Available on: Web/Android/iPhone)

Readability is in essence a reading list app, with many features similar to Apple’s reading list on Safari. As a commuter to university, I spend a significant proportion of my day without any internet connection, which makes this app perfect for me as it allows me to save web pages and journals into the phone’s memory when I’ve got 4G, and then read them back when I’ve got no signal. I like the way the app allows you to “favourite” your most important articles, perfect for when I’ve got a deadline coming up and I need to access certain articles quickly without trawling through all the ones I’ve saved for future weeks. The best bit is that this app isn’t just for university-related articles; I’ve begun saving my favourite blog posts on the app when I need a pick-me-up while writing essays.

Camscanner (Price: Free; Available on: Android/iPhone)

Camscanner is a nifty app that somehow manages to make any photo of text legible, whether it was taken in a yellow-filtered bedroom or hurriedly in the library before packing your bags away. All you have to do is take a picture of the text you’re wanting to save on the app, and then the built-in crop tool focuses the image on the text you want to see, rather than, say, the bookshelf behind. Another clever feature is the “magic colour” tool, so you can choose which variation of the cropped image makes the writing clearer to read, alongside the naming feature, so you can name all your images, making them easier to find later. You can also take photos in batches if you want to transfer a large amount of text to photo form, which is a great alternative to scanning books the old way.

Debut (Price: Free; Available on: Android/iPhone)

Debut is a new careers app that matches students with jobs from companies such as RBS, Arcadia and L’Oréal UK just by answering a simple set of questions. It took about 10 minutes to set up my profile, and since that fateful day back in October, I’ve had offers for fast-tracked applications from multinational firms such as Deutsche Bank and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The app “matches” you with brands that have jobs within the fields you suggested in your profile, and allows other businesses to “talent-spot” you, inviting you to apply for specific roles in their business. Debut has recently implemented a games section on the app, too, sponsored by brands such as L’Oréal UK and offering prizes that include tech products and even internships! Matt Thomas, marketing manager at Debut, said it has already had “hundreds of amazing stories from students”, and I hope the app can help me find a job from my sofa in the coming months.

Google Calendar (Price: Free; Available on: Android/iPhone)

If I didn’t have Google Calendar, I don’t think I’d be able to organise my life. The app allows you to import your lecture timetable directly from your university website, change the colours of the events depending on what they are, and allows you to check your schedule quickly and easily, even without an internet connection. With blogging, university, student societies and two jobs to juggle, the colour coding allows me to see what I spend too much time doing, and allows me to reorganise my time so I’m not spending too much time on one task. Google Calendar also lets you see your events in different views, including daily, weekly and monthly, so you can easily schedule in some time to relax or see when you’re free to have that last-minute coffee and chat.

Alarmy: Sleep If You Can (Price: £1.49; Available on Android/iPhone

Alarmy: Sleep If You Can is probably the most brutal yet most helpful app on this list when you’ve got a beautiful 9am lecture on the other side of campus, as it forces you to get up and out of your bed, without the ability to press a snooze button. It does this by inviting you to take a picture of something, anything, that is far away enough from your bed that you have to get up to snap a photo. Then when you wake up the next morning, it requires you to snap a picture of that same object before the piercing alarm will turn itself off. Genius, right? It’s helped me wake up many a morning, and I hope it can help you, too.

So these are my five favourite apps to help with university: do you have any that help you? Please tweet me (@olivia_curls) as I’d love to hear your suggestions! If you want to see more from me, check out my blog at too.

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