Smarter with Smartphones ­- Apps to Ease School Living

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“You can never be too prepared.” Most people go through life hearing these words until they lose their meaning, only to arrive at college and realize that they could not be more true.

With the impending pressure, expectations and excitement of Fall 2015 looming over us all, here’s an orderless list of smartphone apps that will help with all those school­related new beginnings and transitions.

  • Canvas: By far the most “Florida Tech friendly” app on this list, Canvas is the one­stop shop for keeping up with all of one’s registered classes. It enables users to submit assignments, access relevant material prepared by professors, check grades (YES!), participate in discussions and contact professors. It even allows users to color­code their courses and comes with push notifications and a built­in to­do list. Replacing ANGEL as Florida Tech’s official learning management system since Fall 2014, Canvas has truly made it easier to stay on top of things via its well­equipped web interface. Its official mobile application made for Android and iOS is a great way to maintain access to the website’s handy service on the go.
  • Pocket: A classic edition of “Read It Later” apps, Pocket allows users to do just that. With a few swipes and taps, any web page can be tucked away in a sortable list to read later. It has proven very useful for scheduling timely review of topics that can help with studying or simply doing homework. This works for tweets, videos and much more. Once downloaded, users can access these links in viewing modes optimized for them, as well as save them for offline viewing. Another nifty trick: Pocket is available for Mac and PC as well, and lists and folders within the service can be synced between all the owner’s devices.
  • Spotify: A staple in modern music management, this streaming service is sure to meet the musical needs of anyone with near constant access to wi­fi or a data plan. With over 30 million songs in its library, users are given uninhibited access to music by a multitude of artists from a wide array of genres. Spotify’s staff and algorithms also compile curated playlists for a variety of everyday situations. It’s available for free in Apple’s App Store, Google Play and the Windows store and is usable to its full potential when paired with Spotify’s $9.99/month subscription. This app can be the difference between dragging oneself around campus, and walking around uplifted and confident, motivated by music that matters.
  • Wolfram Alpha: More than just a pretty calculator, this computational knowledge engine is capable of currency conversions, solving elaborate physics and mathematics equations and even looking up gasoline prices. Available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and even Kindle Fire, this paid app can go a long way in simplifying a wide range of tasks. At $2.99, it might be well worth grabbing alongside morning coffee on the first day of classes.
  • Dropbox: For many, it is difficult to remember a world without the joys of cloud computing, and apps like Dropbox make this even more apparent. Arguably the most popular cloud service alongside the likes of iCloud and Google Drive, this app makes accessing files of all types across all of one’s devices a seamless experience. Simply download the app from the Play Store, App Store or Windows Store and watch your files appear on all your devices. Perfect for organizing schoolwork, it comes with 2GB of space along with monthly plans for acquiring more, as well as various ways to get additional space for free.
  • Google Drive: Think of a Dropbox that seamlessly integrated with your Google account and provided you with its own hand­crafted familiar file types and editors for them that were compatible with files created with Microsoft Office. That’s what Google Drive is. Another word for this is “beautiful.” It comes free with your Google accounts; all of them. That includes the personal account that Gmail runs on, and the one that comes with your Florida Tech email address. The app’s best and most unique feature is perhaps its ability to facilitate real­time collaboration on a document between large groups of individuals — many people editing the same document at the same time.
  • Quizlet: This iOS and Android app stands out from many of the other entries on this list for the simple reason that it brings back the age old utility of flashcards. Quizlet enables users to create flashcards as they see fit, and even lets them search for stacks made by other students in a variety of types and contexts. Employing this little helper could very well mean permanently saying goodbye to scribbling on tiny sheets of paper the night before a test, and saying hello to flashcards that will last as long as the internet does.
  • Aftership: Available for free on both the iOS and Android platforms, this handy app makes tracking packages as painless as possible. Aftership lets users limitlessly track packages delivered by up to 200 couriers for free. Unlike other apps that offer similar services, the user interface is completely free of ads. The app can detect the identity of couriers automatically and even comes with a barcode scanner. With its aptly timed notifications, this app can simplify managing textbook acquisitions like a boss.
  • Google Keep: Simply put, Keep is one of the best note­taking apps on mobile. Available as a mobile and online application only for Android, this app enables users to create color­coded notes, lists and reminders, all of which are synced to the paired Google account; Florida Tech email works well with this. Users can also add images to their notes and tag them with as many labels as they please. Although available offline as a mobile app to only Android users, patrons of other platforms can also access the service at
  • Sunrise Calendar: At first glance, it is easy to see this program as yet another Google Calendar compatible app, but upon closer inspection it’s clear that it amounts to much more than that. Available for free on Android, iOS, Mac and PC, Sunrise Calendar has an effective agenda view below its traditional month view and swiping left reveals the app’s clutter­free week view. The app has online weather information as well as support for several third party accounts, calendars and event managers including Google, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Sunrise also has built­in calendars for download, including ones optimized for various religions and sports. There are even calendars optimized for operation based on week numbers, moon phases and the stock exchange. Sunrise makes it easy to manage schedules and view events from different accounts in one place.