By Jamie Sughroue-Linale, Assistant Section Editor
Life as a college student is challenging. Why not simplify things a little if you can? If you have an iPad, iPod or iPhone or if you are just iCurious… ahem, curious, I’ve compiled a list of apps that I’ve found either useful, efficient or – because we all need a little frivolity in our lives – silly.
The iTunes store is currently running a College Survival Guide App List, but I prefer a moderated list that comes with user-based assessments and recommendations. The App Store has a plethora of high-quality apps but there is still a significant lack of apps for college students. Where are those for locating textbooks from a variety of sources for a variety of prices, or a cooking app specifically designed for newly-independent students with a Ramen-based palate and budget? There are a few that are usable, and hopefully someone will slide into that open market soon and we’ll all benefit.
I found a lot of apps on the App List but a few seemed like unnecessary expenses or too specific to a particular major. Why spend $1.99, or even $0.99 on an app when you can just Google it? Most Apple operating systems support multi-tasking, so you can just keep whatever you’re working on “open,” and search for whatever you may be looking for at the same time.
1. My favorite “app” is one that lets me save a website to my home screen. I have a folder specifically for “schoolin” and bookmark websites – Blackboard, MavLink, the Criss Library, my WordPress blog for class, and The Gateway website. It’s time-saving and convenient – no need to search or open your browser.
2. Dropbox (Free) – one of my favorite finds of 2009. As their website states, they really are easiest way to store, sync, and share files online. You get 2 MB free, and then you have the option to subscribe to a reasonably priced monthly plan.
3. Evernote (Free) – Voice, picture and notes-taker; offers both free and premium subscriptions. You can sync your saved information to all of your computers and smartphones: 60MB.
4. iStudiez Pro ($2.99) – A digital planner for your iPod, iPad or MacBook.
5. Pandora Radio (Free) – If you don’t have a Pandora account by now, you should get one. It’s free and you can customize your own radio stations to play your favorite tunes.
6. Minto.com Personal Finance (Free) – I know, I know. You’re in college. What finances could you possibly have to keep track of? If you’re a freshman student just out of high school, listen up. I speak as one of many non-traditional students at UNO who would offer this wise, sage advice – don’t get a credit card. Not until you have a secure, salaried job. Not even then, if you can help it. Now that my conscience is unburdened, this app is quite handy at keeping you informed about your bank account. There are many of us at UNO who are adults with families, careers and responsibilities. This app tidily maintains your financial needs.
7. Momento ($2.99) – This is a new addition to my App list. It’s essentially a way to journal on your iWhatever and connect with FourSquare, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. As they state on their website, it gives you the unique ability to import and archive your online activity from popular web services and display it as part of your diary.
8. iTalk Recorder Premium ($1.99) – If you want to record lectures, make a podcast or capture that weird noise your friend makes when he falls asleep, this is the app for you. It offers Dropbox upload support and also gives you the option to email recordings or sync your recordings with your computer using iTalk Sync.
9. Pulse News Mini (Free) – A handy little newsreader.
10. Netflix (Free App, must have subscription) – Like Pandora, if you don’t know about Netflix, you are not getting your money’s worth out of college. You can stream movies instantly on your smartphone, iPad, etc. as long as you have a subscription. You can do the $8.99 a month plan like me, and get one DVD at a time mailed to you, and watch other movies instantly all the time. You can be in the middle of watching an episode of Californication on your laptop when iStudiezPro reminds you about class in ten minutes, so you pause it and rush to CPACS. You slide into your seat, pull out your iPhone and pick up exactly where you left off in the episode, an earbud discreetly in your ear.
11. DailyBurn (Free) – If you’re anything like me, you can’t afford a good pair of Asics, let alone a personal trainer. DailyBurn is a good alternative, helping you figure out a work-out plan that is exactly what you have time and energy for.
12. CraigsPro ($0.99) – I am constantly checking Craigslist. Easy – this is not that kind of app. I like to peruse the free section and see what kind of wares people are willing to give away. Check it out. I’m always surprised by what’s listed.
13. Kindle (Free) – This is my preferred alternative to iBooks. The Nook is a decent choice as well, but I like Amazon and their selection of books. I purchased a textbook for a class this semester on my Kindle App, and it was dramatically cheaper than purchasing a physical copy of the book.
14. Groupon (Free) – I look forward to getting my Groupon e-mail every day. “What is it going to be today?” I ask myself, gleefully. Basically, it’s a coupon created daily for a restaurant, service, or other activity in your city. It takes off a percentage of the regular price. For example, I recently bought one for Pitch, the delicious restaurant in Dundee, for $15, worth $30. I know! It is exciting to save money.
15. CatPaint ($0.99) — And now…the silly app. This is, by far, the most amusing waste of time I’ve spent money on in a long, long while. You can use a new picture or one from your photo library, whichever you think will make the best canvas. And then — paint with cats. Fuzzy, fluffy white cats; sleek, long-haired black cats; cats galore! Replace the face of a friend with a sour-faced sphinx puss. They’ll thank you for it.