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The App-Armed Student: The Best Apps For Students

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Having a smartphone is undeniably convenient for University at Albany students, its touchscreen feature allowing applications (or “apps”) to have flexible virtual menus that help the user navigate through it swiftly. While a smartphone can put you into relaxation mode as the App Store provides a seemingly endless plethora of games, it can also help make you a much better, efficient and well-rounded student.

Many of us use certain standard applications and websites to get work done like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook in addition to UAlbany-centric apps like “UAlbany Campus Bus Schedules” and “UAlbany Events Guide”, there are other apps that deserve some love too.

Alas, here is a list of some of the best apps I came up with to help you excel and hopefully impress your professors with your renewed work ethic. Most of them should be available on both the App Store or Google Play.

Microsoft OneNote

Rivalling Evernote and Google Keep, this note-taking application has certainly become an astonishing place where electronically typing down your notes is not the only feature it boasts. You can also insert attachments, images, videos and also record audio that would be eventually incorporated amid your notes too. If you have a device that uses a stylus, you can use it to hand-draw or write within the app in case you study better if your notes are in your own handwriting. Upon typing your notes, OneNote will sync it into a virtual cloud so that when you use OneNote on another device, simply log in with your Microsoft account and it will be right there to welcome further notetaking.

While the uninitiated may be overwhelmed by its menus, tabs and groups (these are supposed to help compartmentalize all your notes and content), you would realize just how liberating it is to push your notetaking skills to the next level, whether you learn by typing, your own handwriting, audio or visual. You can also use OneNote for non-academic use by creating separate notebooks for your student and personal lives so you’re able to type in your groceries list or reminders, for example. After all your notetaking, you can print them out so you can physically have them to further take more notes with your pen.

OneNote is available for free on both mobile and desktop as you can download it from the App Store (on your iPhone or MacBook) and Google Play.

Google Calendar

Classes honestly are not the only things we students have to focus on throughout the semester. We have to set aside time for our personal lives too and some may even have a job while being enrolled here at UAlbany, like myself. Naturally, everything can feel overwhelming when classwork, stress from family or work shifts invade our time, so it’s important to realize how beneficial time management truly is.

Signing in with a Google account, Google Calendar helps by letting you enter in events, reminders and errands you have to run, all in one app. It is a much-appreciated alternative to those who dislike their smartphones’ native calendar apps, with its user-friendly layout and bright colors to make compartmentalization feel refreshing. You can set as many notifications as you want to remind of an incoming event you have to deal with; you can edit your notification settings to arrive via email of in your smartphone itself. You can include where your event will be at so it links you to your maps application to tell you what the traffic is like. Google Calendar is also available on your desktop if you logged into your Google account too so it feels multi-operational.

Google Drive

You may be well-accustomed to saving all your work on your laptop or computer but what if they are suddenly wiped out by accident by a virus or a blackout? What if you accidentally spill coffee over your device and its last dying words were a tragic sputter before being silent forever? Google Drive helps by letting you save all your work, documents, presentations, spreadsheets and even images, if you have a Google account. You can access it on your laptop, computer or smartphone as your work would be effectively synced into the virtual cloud so that if one device fails, you can easily log into your Google account on another device and it’s all right there again.

By extension, Google Drive incorporates Docs, Slides and Sheets which are the Google equivalents of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. You can select a particular document to be available offline so that when you’re without Internet access somewhere, you can still work on it and it will sync the moment you have Internet access again. Like Google Calendar, its menus are easy to learn and you can create folders to separate your documents into your student and non-student lives.  


As the semester runs on, you may be getting tired of the pricey food outlets, vending machines and snacks this campus offers. While convenient since they’re easily within reach, perhaps you want to check out a new place, restaurant, bistro, bar or café since studying can be difficult with an empty, stubborn stomach. Yelp allows you to search any type of food you’d like to try like “Italian,” “Vietnamese” or a “diner.” After setting your current location in the app, you can edit the results in terms of what is currently open, if it’s cheap or more expensive, provides delivery or has outdoor seating, for example.

After finding a potentially ideal spot you want to dine at, you can read reviews by other Yelp users about whether this place provides great customer service, is clean or great quality food. Users also can post photos of the place to visually inform the viewer of how it and its food look like.


Since we live in such a rapid-paced university where we may be running to class or waking up late, it can be hard to sit back and find time to read something on your smartphone. Perhaps you found an intriguing article, story or even a piece of fanfiction that you want to spend time reading but you may not have the time to do it at that moment. Pocket allows you to freely save an article onto your smartphone for you to read at a later time that works better for you. This “Save for Later” can help feed into your love for reading and discovering stories out there. Once downloaded into the app, you can read the article in places where there even is no Internet access.  

You can also save videos and images so you don’t feel so limited. While it has a premium version, Pocket has a free version that still works as promised and you can organize your saved articles with tags or archive them. You can also save articles that your professor was discussing in class so you can refer to them later. This app really helps if you’re constantly on the go and have difficulty just sitting down and giving an article the attention it deserves.

Um, that’s it?

There are actually more apps that can help make your life as a UAlbany student much easier which I can compile into another list for another future article. Such apps would concern studying again but also branch out to finance, sleeping habits, entertainment (we all need to relax after a long day of studying) and learning a new language!

Nonetheless, the five apps I listed for you above are all free (some have a premium version which you have pay for) and should help you get started on a much more productive semester. Sure, your physical planner, pen and notebook all are still great resources but arming yourself with these advantageous apps on your smartphone can turn you into the ideal 21st century student. So let’s get to work!

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