When I was at school, I struggled badly with random, un-filed bits of paper, leaky ink cartridges in my Parker Pen and terrible hand writing (as well as chronic laziness and an addiction to Cricket). I’m sure this approach to my organisation affected my school work. If I would have grown up in the iPad age I think things would have been different. The following 5 apps have been tried and tested by me and my students and rank highly as apps which work brilliantly to keep work organised in the cut and thrust of a busy day.
The iPad is notorious in not having an accessible file structure. As we know, files are often saved in app, or to the camera roll or to iCloud where you can access the files on another device, as long as you have the corresponding app. The other problem is that the more files you generate, the more you eat into your precious iPad storage.
Enter Google Drive. Using your Google Account, you can upload up to 15GB of files for free onto your Drive (30GB if you have a Google Apps for Education account). A large majority of apps export to Google Drive, some of which automatically export so you don’t even have to upload manually.
The other useful aspect of Google Drive is that if you don’t have your iPad with you, you can log in via a browser and access your files quite happily. You can do this to an extent with iCloud and iWork’s new online interface, but this only works for iWork files and not things created in other apps. To be fair, Apple haven’t intended this to be the case.
Here is a link to Google Drive in the App Store
Explain Everything is an app which allows you to import pretty much anything into it and annotate and record your voice as if you are giving a presentation. You can record all of this and send it to the teacher. If you are the sort of student who finds it difficult to express themselves properly through writing, Explain Everything offers a very creative solution to record your thoughts verbally, and visually whilst annotating live on screen.
You could, for example, have a historical source, maybe a picture, which you can draw on and talk about the different areas of interest in it. This can then be packaged by Explain Everything as a video file and emailed to your teacher.
Here is a link to Explain Everything in the App Store.
The need to word process is still alive and well in University. Currently, there really is no competition to Apple’s word processor, Pages.
Where Pages succeeds is that it gets rid of all the clutter which non-power users don’t need, giving you decent screen real estate whilst making the features easily accessible. Things that could potentially be a nightmare on a touchscreen device like adding pictures and tables are ridiculously simple to do in Pages.
Export options are easy to use too, allowing you to export documents as a Word file, as well as native Pages, PDF or even ePub if you fancy trying your hand at writing ebooks. You can also export to a variety of places, including Google Drive.
Here is a link to Pages in the App Store.
The vast majority of universities in the world are still paper based environments, although this is slowly changing. However, it is likely that any information you receive from your teacher is paper based. Scanner Pro is a fantastic app which will turn your paper based documents into electronic documents very quickly indeed.
Edge detection of the document is pretty flawless, assuming you are on a contrasting surface colour to that of the the thing you are scanning. The scan itself is of excellent quality, assuming the lighting conditions are reasonable. Scanner Pro will also upload automatically to your Google Drive account AND file itself in the Scanner Pro folder that it creates. This means your ‘paper work’ will be with you even if you don’t have your iPad. I have timed myself and I have been able to scan a document from iPad sleep mode to uploading to Google Drive within 10 seconds. In the school day when time is short, this is outstanding.
Here is a link to Scanner Pro in the App Store
Notability really is the Swiss Army knife of note taking. It covers all bases except video notes (which you could do on Explain Everything).
Notability will open pretty much any file type (the only one I have found it seems to struggle with is Keynote, but you can turn this into a PDF and open it in Notability like that). Once your file is open you then have a huge variety of ways in which you can write your notes. You can write freehand, type in lines as per a word processor, use text boxes, you can even record audio into your notes.
Notability also uploads automatically to Google Drive (as well as other cloud providers), so you don’t have to remember to do this, and again, if you forget your iPad, you can still get your work to the teacher by logging into your Google Drive or similar through a browser.
Here is a link to Notability in the App Store.
The beauty is these apps is that they all work very well in concert together, and they cover pretty much all the angles that you need when doing bread and butter school work as a student. They turn the iPad into an excellent, and in this Hack’s opinion, more flexible option for work on the move than a laptop.
Disclosure: I have purchased all of the apps in this roundup with my hard earned money because they help me do my job with great efficiency.