Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Start the school year off right!

Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Start the school year off right!

Looking for the best iPhone apps and best iPad apps to help you stay on top of things at college this year? No matter how far along you are in your college career, it's never too late to load up your iPhone or iPad with great apps that can help you study harder, organize better, and tackle assignments better than ever. Regardless what you need help with, there are tons of App Store apps to help. These are the iPhone and iPad apps we think no college student should ever go without!

Pages, Keynote, and Numbers

Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Pages, Keynote, Numbers

You spend a lot of time in college writing papers, preparing presentations, and collecting data. Apple's iWork series is available for both Mac and iOS. With iCloud sync, all your papers, spreadsheets, and presentations will stay in sync no matter where you are or what device you're working on. You also have the ability to export to .doc, .xls, and .ppt formats so PC users can open and share your documents as well. Since each app is available separately, you can download just the ones you need. New iOS and Mac owners can download all of Apple's iWork apps for free. If you have an older device, you can still purchase them for extremely reasonable prices.

If you're writing papers, preparing presentations, or keying data in spreadsheets, Apple's iWork suite is a must-have.

See also:

iTunes U

Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: iTunes U

iTunes U is a great resources for anyone, whether your university supports it or not. If it does, there's a good chance you can find lectures and class material available for download straight to your iPhone or iPad. For those that don't have iTunes U support yet, it's still a great supplementary study tool that's sure to have tons of videos and lecture material on topics you're currently studying. You can sign up for automatic downloads for courses you're interested in as well which means you don't even have to remember to go grab new lessons.

If you want a good supplementary learning tool or a fallback plan to study topics you're having trouble grasping, get iTunes U.


Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Evernote, Notability, iTunes U, and more!

Evernote is hands down one of the best note taking apps available, with support for tags, separate notebooks, iCloud sync, and more. You can even take photos of a blackboard or syllabus and tag it accordingly for specific courses. With great syncing support, you can access your notes not only on your iPhone or iPad, but on your Mac, PC, and on the web as well. Evernote gives you a decent amount of cloud storage to start but if you find yourself going over or want some of the premium features Evernote offers, you can subscribe for more space and lots more features.

If you need a way to efficiently take notes and find them at a moment's notice, there's no better option available than Evernote.


Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a task and todo app that's available on almost any platform you can think of, including iPhone and iPad. When you need to add a task, just enter it and throw it in your inbox. You can go back later and create individual lists, add due dates, notes, and much more. Since Wunderlist lets you create lists however you'd like, you can set them up for each class, or for individual projects. If you're working on group projects you can even share lists between each other and receive notifications when new tasks are added, updated, and completed. Wunderlist is free to use but if you want more advanced features such as in-depth collaboration tools, you'll need to subscribe. However, the free version should be sufficient for most students.

For a great way to stay on top of homework and projects, look no further than Wunderlist.

See also:


Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: PCalc

PCalc is one of the only calculators you'll ever need on your iPhone or iPad, student or not. Whether you're a science, engineering, or computer programming major, odds are PCalc has you covered. With support for all kinds of conversions, scientific notation, RPN mode, and tons more, it'll cost you a lot less than a physical calculator and it's always in your pocket. One download scores you PCalc on both your iPhone and iPad.

If you're majoring in something that requires a lot of math, definitely check out PCalc.


Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Dropbox

It's essential to have somewhere to store all your assignments and documents. From lecture notes to class syllabus' to term papers, Dropbox can store it all. When you sign up, you get 2GB of storage for free with paid options available for lots more storage. Dropbox will give you access to your files straight from your iPhone, iPad, or computer. With apps for virtually every platform and web access for everything in between, you'll never find yourself forgetting an important document or paper again.

If you need a central place to store all your media and documents so you always have them within reach, get Dropbox.

Screens VNC

Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Screens VNC

While cloud storage services like Dropbox serve as a great way to access documents from anywhere, what about using apps on our desktop? And let's face it, we don't always remember everything and there may come a time when you forget an important assignment in a folder on your Mac. Screens lets you remotely access your Mac or PC right from your iPhone or iPad as long as it's connected to the internet. Just create an account and set up Screens on your computer. Next time you forget something, just take control of your desktop and email it to yourself in seconds.

If you want remote control of your desktop computer no matter where you are, Screens VNC is what you want.

See also:

Your picks for best iPhone and iPad apps for college students?

We know there are lots of you out there that are either in college or toted an iPhone and iPad around while you were there. Which apps did you find most useful for taking notes, keeping up with assignments, and helping you study? Make sure you let us know in the comments!

Note: Originally published, August 2013. Updated, August 2014.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Start the school year off right!


I would really rank Wunderlist as one of the best apps for university. Combined with Evernote there's not much more that you need!

Absolutely this. I find Evernote and Wunderlist a powerful combo.

As for the iWork apps, Keynote is good, but Pages and Numbers are nigh on unusable for me studying a science. I couldn't say how useful Pages is studying a humanities subject, and u doubt anyone studying those sort of subjects would be using Numbers anyway.

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I'd include Office Mobile. A lot of schools provide discounts on Office 365 U, and even if they don't, Microsoft does, and it works quite well with Mobile. I did some last minute edits to my Philosophy paper this past year using it.

I would include NoteSuite.
It is new to the scene, and basically copied Notability for its notetaking services. I think it is as good as you could want for notes, and then it adds great productivity/to-do list functionality. It is great because it deeply links your notes and assignments with your to-do lists.
Its basically Omnifocus-lite and Notability-lite, in one app.

I'm surprised you didn't mention that the handwriting app, Penultimate, was acquired by Evernote and is nicely integrated; therefore, this eliminates the need for Notability--nice though it is. I used to use Notability, but now have no need for it with my Evernote app etc.

Besides Dropbox there are other options that not only let you store but also edit your files, like SkyDrive and Google Drive and as for space "Copy" gives the more storage for free, starting with 50GB with a free account 5GB per referral, unlike dropbox that gives you only like 250MB. All of them have iOS apps.

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With your iPad you can also use iTakeClassNotes released in June 2014 which is a free complete course notes app that uses all the media features of the iPad (photo, mic, drawings) and allows you to share the notes on the cloud (Dropbox, GoogleDrive) or social networks (Facebook, Twitter)

Dropbox and maybe an online office suite (thank god Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are increasing online too!) are good for a student like me, who is working on multiple OSes, as I have constantly flip through Sun, Linux, Windows, and good old Macs, depending on the class, server, or project I am using. Cloud-based services are CRUCIAL for me.

I've used an iPad the last two years as a PhD student at Michigan State. Apps I can't do without that aren't listed here: Noteshelf & Notability (handwritten note-taking apps & more), Trello (much like Wunderlist), iAnnotate PDF, and Google products (Drive, Docs, and Sheets)! I just started to use OneNote (sort of like EverNote) but haven't used it enough to give it an endorsement yet.

Nice list Ally! I would also like to add some of my own.
These are the apps I can't live without- Penultimate (for taking the rare written note), Skitch, Scanner Pro, (to mark up or create PDFs) 30/30 (helps me manage my study vs break time), Sunrise Calendar (Fantastical is better, but hey, this is free), Instapaper (a paid app, with an optional paid service, this app is a necessity for a college student who never has the time to read an article when he has found it), Duolingo (learn that foreign language before your class!), PDF Cabinet (hands down the prettiest and most functional PDF READER you can find on iOS) . And then after a long day, you could unwind with a healthy dose of WhatsApp, Songza (or Spotify) and 9Gag.

How is iStudiez Pro not on this list? With seamless Mac, iPhone, & iPad Integration this application keeps me up to date with current work, classes I need to attend, & future exams. You can even have you grades and GPA calculated as the term progresses.

I think the new touch-friendly Microsoft Office apps for iPad deserve a mention in this 2014 list. They are really good.

I was so impressed with Word for iPad that I write a book about it (with 5 hours of embedded video demonstrations too). I also wrote the whole book using Word for iPad on my iPad Mini (before importing it into iBooks Author for the final layout).

With Students able to get really good low-cost deals on Office 365, I think Word for iPad is a serious contender for being the best available word processor on the best available tablet.

I certainly wish I'd had that sort of power in my backpack when I was a student.

PCalc is also originally available for Mac OS. I would add "White Noise" for relaxation. It's $1.99 but there are free sounds and more are added and you can create mixes.

I would also add Flashcard Pro, the app is super easy to play and create your flashcards. You can add text, picture and audio in the card both two side.And it's free.

RefMe is also a college (and graduate) student must. It creates citations in any referencing style that you need (APA, MLA, Chicago, Bluebook, etc.). It is FREE! Yay! And once you sign-up for an account you can use it on your iPhone, iPad, and computer to create the citation as well as store them in multiple lists. This is great for organizing your sources!

Here is a link:

Safety apps are also really important for college students! I had so many late nights in the library and walking home at 3am by myself was scary sometimes. There's this app ArcAngel that just came out recently that I downloaded and definitely wished I had in college. It alerts you when there's a dangerous situation in your area, and it connects you with law enforcement and an operations center. You should check it out:

I love the iWork suite much more than Microsoft Office but for my grad work I haven't been able to use them. We are required to submit all assignments as Word documents in proper formatting (Chicago/Turabian). So far I have never had a Pages document export into a Word document with all of the formatting intact. Something buggers up and I have to spend anywhere from 15-45 minutes correcting conversion mistakes before submitting my assignments.
For that reason I echo having Microsoft Word as a must have.

There’s this awesome app called GrabPoints. In a nutshell they pay you for trying out new apps and answering a couple of surveys. I love using it because they are always active on social media giving out points and the rewards are always fair. Like just for signing up you already get $1 then if you use a friend’s invite code you get 50PTS and easy AND your friend gets points in return too! See even simply inviting people earns you money. If you ever happen to try GRABPOINTS please use my invite code: S6FMAC Hope this helps!