5 awesome Android apps to send you back to school

Don’t be Spongebob. Use technology to make your school year awesome.

Another school year, another series of 180 (give or take) slightly sleep-deprived, overly-stressed days. It might make you look a bit like that yellow sponge guy over there.

Hold on! I’m here to help.

All you need is this newfangled doohickey called a smartphone. Specifically, an Android smartphone (tablets work too, if you’re into that).

As you probably guessed from the title, I’m going to do another of those famous “top 5” lists. As you also probably guessed, I’ll be showing you 5 Android apps you can use to make the school year go a bit easier. The catch? I actually use these apps so I’ll tell you about how I use them. Hopefully you’ll find them useful too.

I’ve included a link you can open to download each app I mention, as well as a screenshot for each. Here we go:

Make math class easier – Algeo Calculator

You can make some pretty awesome graphs with Algeo.
You can make some pretty awesome graphs – not to mentin calculations – with Algeo.

If you’re anything like me you’ll probably find yourself buying a $100 calculator for math class. Well, er, I hate to break it to you, but here’s an app that does almost everything that calculator can do – and a few more things – plus it’s free.

Algeo Calculator is a lot more powerful than what probably comes with your smartphone – you can do trigonometry, solve equations, graph stuff, and so on. I use it whenever I’m doing math homework (it’s worked for 95% of my math homework) or whenever I need to calculate, say, the number of baseballs it would take to cover Pennsylvania (20 trillion*.) So yeah, Algeo is great for math work and everyday use.

*Pennsylvania’s area is 46,050 square miles. A baseball’s radius is about 1.452 inches. Use Algeo to calculate the answer if you don’t believe me.

Get. Stuff. Done. – Pomodroido

Have fun managing your time (really!) with Pomodroido.
Have fun managing your time (really!) with Pomodroido.

It’s very easy – oh, hey, a Tweet! – to get distracted – an email! – when you’re supposed to be doing work. If you really need to get stuff done, you need to manage your time well without losing your focus. That’s where this handy little time-management technique called the Pomodoro technique comes in. You break your day, and your tasks, into manageable chunks, and take small breaks in between.

Traditionally, this is done with a kitchen timer, but we’re too cool for that, so we should use an app. I’ve tried several Android apps and my favorite is Pomodroido since it adds a sense of achievement – it keeps track of how much work you do and makes working like a game. I find it’s easier to push myself to do more work sessions (pomodoros) when I know I can break my daily record, level up, or just get one more pomodoro in than the day before. The app’s slogan is Timeboxing with a side of achievement, which sums it up pretty well.

There are other great features, too – keeping track of when to take breaks, notifying you when time is ready, blocking out distracting phone features, etc. But no other pomodoro app can add in a sense of achievement, and for that, Pomodroido is the best.

Have your files everywhere – Dropbox

Dropbox is great for keeping your school-related files with you everywhere.
Dropbox is great for keeping your school-related files with you everywhere.

I know I’m not the only guy who writes notes on his laptop, studies and edits them on his phone, and prints them on his school’s computers. And, as I’ll say from experience, emailing stuff to yourself – every time you make an edit – gets annoying really fast. That’s where cloud storage comes in. Dropbox, which I’ve raved about before, gets the job done really well.

Like most cloud storage services, you can store files online and access them anywhere. What I really like about Dropbox is that you can save files offline, and that every edit you make is automatically synced back to your account.

Note: Google Drive, Box.com, and the countless other cloud storage services work fine too. Just make sure you have one.

Scan notes and papers – CamScanner

It’s happened to me a lot: I miss class and need to get someone’s notes, I need to get info from the board but I don’t have time to write it down, or I want to read a handout on my phone. And, while most cameras are great and all, you get a lot of this:

That's the Gettysburg Address (Four score and seven years ago...) if you just use your camera.
That’s the Gettysburg Address (Four score and seven years ago…) if you take a photo of it with your camera without CamScanner.
CamScanner makes printed/written stuff look crystal clear. Great for notes.
CamScanner makes printed/written stuff look crystal clear. Great for notes.

Ew, it’s all blurred and dim. In comes CamScanner, which automatically enhances the contrast and clarity of a photo so you can actually, you know, read it. It’s great for notes and handouts with even the smallest font. Amazing, really.

Study like a pro – Cabra

Yes, I made this app, but I still think it's good for studying.
Yes, I made this app, but I still think it’s good for studying.

You didn’t really think you could get away from one of my blog posts without some shameless advertising, did you?

Yeah, Cabra is a studying and flashcard app I’ve developed. But more importantly, I use it on a daily basis. It’s great for getting 5 minutes of studying in here or there, and it too is cross-platform so you can sync your flashcards between your computer and phone.

To avoid sounding even more like an advertiser (shame on me), I’ll let you judge the app on its own merits. Try it out.

The end

Get these 5 educational apps to become more like Spongebob. In a good way.

Well, there’s my roundup of my 5 favorite apps for school. They’ve really made my life a lot easier, and hopefully they’ll make yours easier too.

Hopefully now you can look a bit more like this yellow square dude.

Published by

Neel Mehta

Harvard College. Web developer. Sometime philosopher. Baseball junkie.

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