Skip to main content

5 essential productivity apps for students of all ages

It’s time to get back to school. Whether you’re in high school, college, or grade school, the end of the summer signifies a resumption of hitting the books. Along with shopping for materials in physical bookstores, you have one of the most powerful study tools in your pocket right now — your smartphone.

In the App Store or Play Store are multiple apps that you’ll be able to use to handle such tasks as timetabling, to-do lists, and note-taking. We’ve picked five of the best apps that you simply must have installed on your phone to make your study time easier.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar app
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As a student, your life is often dictated by the calendar. A good calendar app is necessary to help you focus and structure your class timetable, your personal study timetable, and your social calendar into one streamlined experience.

Google Calendar is one of the best calendar apps for balancing simplicity, accessibility, and functionality. Unlike Apple’s Calendar, it is available on both Android and iOS. Unlike Microsoft’s Outlook app, it’s a stand-alone experience. You can simply use it without needing an extended email calendar.

Google also does a good job with input, allowing you to enter your next study session or exam using natural language. Not that you’ll need to do that much. Depending on your school’s system, you’ll be able to integrate your class timetables right into the Google Calendar app by importing them, with updates appearing automatically on all your devices.

Android iOS

Office Lens

Office Lens
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While most of the work done in current times is digital, sometimes there’s a need for paper as well. Whether it’s taking interesting notes someone’s scribbled on a library book, annotations made on a physical whiteboard, or just capturing your own handwritten notes for better organization, the simple act of capturing an image and saving it to your notes app can’t be underestimated for a student.

Microsoft’s Lens is a pretty good example of an app you can use for this purpose. It’s a powerful one that integrates into the company’s OneDrive service or your device’s local storage. There’s support for scanning so that documents you capture are uploaded as if they were natively digital, and you can even export the text from images of handwritten notes with its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) support.

Android iOS

Google Drive

The Google Drive Play Store page.

The worst thing that can happen to any student is writing up a 10,000-word dissertation and then losing it due to a power glitch. A cloud storage app is a necessity for this reason. While iCloud and OneDrive may work just as well, they have limitations. While iCloud is pretty good if you’re into Apple products, it’s not great if you have an Android phone, Chromebook, or a Windows laptop. Google Drive is simply more user-friendly than Microsoft OneDrive.

With Google Drive, storage and accessing all your documents from your phone or laptop work better. Whether these are photos, PDFs, or digital textbooks. Google also has excellent apps for editing your documents via the Google Docs suite — even if you prefer Word documents over Google Doc files.

Android iOS


Focusing when writing that essay or reading that book is especially hard with so much digital distraction around. If you’re using your phone, it’s even worse, with notifications and pings galore. Fortunately, there are apps designed to keep your hands away from your phone.

Forest is one of the best ones. It allows you to set a timer so you can “plant a tree” and let it grow. If you leave the app at any point, the tree dies, and you have to restart. Focus and do your work or let that tree die — the choice is up to you. You do get one do-over, but after that, your tree will die if you exit the app. When the timer has run its course, your tree will have grown, and your work will hopefully be done.

Android, iOS


Notion is a note-taking top that’s a lot more complex than regular ones. It allows you to essentially create anything from a complex sprawling single document to a Wiki detailing everything you know about a topic of your choice. It’s available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and the web.

While apps like Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep also exist as note-taking apps of varying complexity, what sets Notion apart from them is its flexibility. It can be incredibly simple, or it can be fantastically complex as your needs evolve.

While its customizability and endless features might seem overwhelming for casual users, these options work a lot better for students with varying needs.

Android, iOS

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
I love the Galaxy S23 — here are 5 things the iPhone still does better
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has arrived to the masses, and it’s one of the best Android phones you can get right now, especially the S23 Ultra. However, for those who don’t need all of the fancy bells and whistles, like the S Pen and 200MP main camera, the regular S23 is also plenty powerful for the average person, especially if you prefer smaller devices.

I’ve been using the Galaxy S23 for the past few weeks, and so far, my experience has been delightful. I know that it’s still early on in the year, but for me, the S23’s small size is perfect and comfortable. Android also does a lot of things better than iOS, like individual volume controls and notifications, for example. But I am still primarily using my iPhone 14 Pro — despite Apple having some big flaws, such as overprocessing images after you capture them.

Read more
Apple cracks down on ChatGPT apps with harsh age ratings
App Store on-screen illustration

Apple is in a deadlock with email app BlueMail over its decision to give the app's latest update an age restriction of 17 and older due to its ChatGPT integration.

Apple is currently blocking the update because the app's developer Blix Inc. disagrees with the company's stance to give BlueMail an age restriction, having rejected the brand's update application last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Read more
Our 5 favorite iPhone and Android apps by Black developers
An iPhone with apps from Black developers downloaded on it.

As we wrap up the celebration of 2023's Black History Month, it remains important to recognize and appreciate the contributions that Black people have made in various fields, including technology and the smartphone apps we use every day. From social media platforms to productivity tools, Black developers and other people of color have worked hard to create innovative, useful, and just plain fun apps.

Here, we're focusing on five helpful apps developed by Black people that you should check out. These iPhone and Android apps range from ones that help you discover and support Black-owned businesses to ones that provide legal assistance in case of an emergency to ones that curate and highlight sources of news and entertainment by Black creators.
We Read Too

Read more