Tech Tuesday staff’s favorite apps for back-to-school
Going back to school no longer just means getting pencils, folders and notebooks. It also means getting your digital life in order. Before the semester really gets started, the Tech Tuesday team picked some of our favorite apps for staying on top of things — and there’s no better time to get into some good habits than right now.
Our favorite apps to procrastinate
Facebook has kind of been on its way out among college students. Instead, Instagram is the center of social media now. Take selfies, add filters and blast them out to your friends. But Snapchat is the newest and coolest way to communicate in the 21st century — send photos that self-destruct after a few seconds, or add them to a story for 24 hours. Yik Yak, meanwhile, is an app that’s growing quickly. It’s basically a location-based version of Reddit where people complain about things.
Our favorite photography apps
Every smartphone has a camera, but that doesn’t mean that everyone takes good photos. VSCO Cam puts Instagram to shame with a huge selection of filters that actually make your photos look better. You can pick the strength of the filter, change settings like exposure and sharpness and share to every important social network.
Hyperlapse is a stand-alone app made by Instagram. It uses a special algorithm to make even the shakiest video look like it professionally filmed, or filmed by someone with steady hands. It also lets you make timelapse videos.
Our favorite music apps
Apps like Spotify and Rdio are the juggernauts of mobile music streaming. Spotify has the better music selection, but we prefer Rdio for its nice user interface and solid mobile apps. Both offer $5-per-month plans for students. If you don’t know what you want to listen to, 8tracks has tons of user-generated playlists for every mood imaginable, and everyone loves Pandora (but we all wish we had more skips). SoundCloud is an up-and-coming music-publishing platform widely known for having more underground music, formatted almost like YouTube for audio.
Our favorite games
2048, based off the even-better game Threes!, is an addictive puzzle game where you slide tiles around combining numbers until you get the magical number 2048. The game has sparked dozens of spin-offs and people still play it months after release. Chess.com is, well, chess. It allows you to play timed games and chat with friends or random people around the world for free.
Our favorite email apps
When you’re constantly on the move like most students, a reliable email app is your best friend. Gmail has improved their mobile app for ease of access, simplicity and performance when integrated with Google Drive. But Mailbox, created by the makers of Dropbox, is faster and simpler than Gmail. Mailbox treats emails like actions — if it’s in your inbox, you probably have to do something with it, right? With its simple swipes and elegant interface, Mailbox makes email fast and more enjoyable (if that’s even possible).
Our favorite apps for getting stuff done
Put your work in the cloud and never lose an essay again with Google Drive or Dropbox. Google Drive can replace Microsoft Office for everyone except hardcore Excel-heads — it does online document editing, spreadsheets and even Powerpoint-style presentations, all for free and all backed up on Google’s servers. Both Dropbox and Google Drive have apps for every major platform.
Never forget a password again with 1Password and LastPass. They store all your passwords in an encrypted file that can only be opened with “one password” that you remember. 1Password, available for every platform, is the better of the two, but remains costly at $39.99 after a college discount. LastPass is free.
Your phone’s built-in notes app probably doesn’t do much besides take in text. Evernote, on the other hand, can save photos, scan business cards and record audio notes — that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But if you prefer something simple, Simplenote is among the best and fastest ways to save text and sync it everywhere. Evernote is available for iOS, Android, the Web, Windows and Mac (among others, even). Simplenote is on iOS, Android, Mac, and the Web.
Whether you have a huge reading assignment for class or just want to read the new GQ profile on Kanye West, it’s easy to get distracted while reading. Pocket and Instapaper let you save the article text to your phone or tablet so you can read offline — perfect for catching up while on the bus between campuses. Even better, they strip away all the ads and pop-ups, letting you focus only on what you want to read.