It’s back to school time for students across the country. Technology is playing a bigger part than ever before in classrooms and even teenagers have smartphones nowadays. According to a Pew Research Center study from March this year, 23 percent of 12 to 17 year-olds own a smartphone, and 54 percent have a regular cell phone (or don’t know what kind they have). That percentage has probably gone up by now.
Why not take advantage? Instead of filling that phone with games, claim a place for some useful apps. You can ease the transition back to school for your kids with the right apps. Here’s our guide to the best back to school apps on iOS and Android.
Also check out our Back to School Shopping Guide.
Being able to check where your children are can provide real peace of mind. Enter Life360 Family Locator. It lets you track your family members and check in with them. You can start group chats or VoIP conference calls. You can also find local safety points or potential threats. The service is cross platform and it even allows you to track feature phones. If you’re feeling anxious about packing the kids off to school then this service might just calm your nerves.
It may be an obvious choice but there’s a good reason for that – Dropbox is extremely useful. You can use it to back up photos, documents, and notes in the cloud and then sync them across your computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. No more forgetting to take that homework assignment into school, or losing those biology notes.
With Dropbox, everything is safely stored online and you get a basic account offering 2GB for free. You can get an extra 500MB every time you refer someone else to the service and some smartphones come with special Dropbox tie-ins, such as the HTC One series and the Samsung Galaxy S3.
This is a seriously comprehensive math app. You may be put off by the price tag, but consider that it includes everything from basic calculator abilities to algebra, 3D graphing, statistics, and beyond. It doesn’t require an Internet connection to work and it makes a lot more sense than splashing out on a standalone graphing calculator (which would cost you a lot more).
Being able to create notes using photos, text, and voice recordings is always handy and Evernote is a great app for exactly that purpose. Use it to make detailed class notes or to-do lists. You can also sync your notes with your home computer, tablet, or laptop and you can tag them to make finding the right ones quick and easy. Evernote is a powerful study tool.
The iOS version seems to have more issues than the Android one so if you’re an iPhone owner you might want to use Notability instead. It can also be synced with Dropbox.
Apple’s popular virtual assistant, Siri, uses Wolfram Alpha (amongst other sources), but if you’ve got an earlier iPhone or an Android smartphone you might consider investing in the app. It is capable of providing you with a huge amount of information and, as a computational knowledge engine, it can make calculations too. The knowledge base is huge, so students of all subjects should find this app useful, though it may take a while to learn how to get the best from it.
This is an in-depth planner app to help students schedule everything. It’s easy to use and it can keep track of classes, exams, assignments, grades, and anything else you deem important. You can also sync it with Google Calendar and there are plenty of import and export options. The ability to set up reminders makes it ideal for busy students. Unfortunately it is only available on the Android platform.
Here’s a student planner that offers a load of customization options and useful features. It is a time management tool so you can keep a schedule of all your classes and assignments and get alerts when you need them. It also offers a nice range of customizable themes so you can choose the look you want. This app is only available on iOS and it’s also free.
It’s always handy to have a dictionary and thesaurus for reference and you’ll struggle to find a better option than this. It’s packed with definitions, you can get audio pronunciations of words, and it supports voice search. In addition to definitions, antonyms, and synonyms, you can also find details of a word’s origin. This is a fantastic free app for students of the English language.
You’ll find a lot of specialized options in Google Play and the App Store that are supposed to be designed specifically for students, but not all of them are worth bothering with. The reviews should give you a general sense about what’s worth your while. You could also try checking out a resource like Teachers with Apps which provides independent reviews of educational apps for different age groups.
If you have any favorite apps for students that you’d like to recommend, then please post a comment and tell us what makes them worth downloading.