The 30 Best iPad apps for college students and academics

Best iPad apps for college students and academicsIt is this special time of the year again: We are going back to school. And whether you are a college student or a tenured professor, or anything in between (yay Grad students!), you might be asking yourself what iPad apps you could download to get the most out of your iPad.

This is my personal list of the 30 best iPad apps for college / grad students and professors. It is not one of these countless posts that list a bunch of generic apps like Safari, Facebook and iBooks. Those are not really specific to people in university, and I also bet you knew those already. I am also not going to throw a list at you filled with niche iPad apps targeted at one particular subject or at earlier years of education. So what will you find here?

This is a list of my favorite iPad apps that are useful for everybody in academia – college students, grad students, postdocs, lecturers and professors – because they help us excel in our core workflows: Writing, Reading, Thinking, Presenting and Organizing our academic lives.

The iPad apps I am listing here are all high quality, paid apps. For some of these you might be able to find free alternatives, no doubt. However, you get what you pay for, and I think that it doesn’t hurt to invest a little money in quality paid apps that boost our core workflows.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all free iPad apps are worthless! There are great ones for academics out there, and I will publish a post of my favorite free apps very soon (so sign up for academiPad’s RSS or twitter streams).

But back to the current post: For each of the core workflows (Writing, Reading, Thinking, Presenting and Organizing our academic lives), I am discussing a couple of iPad apps and how they fit into that workflow. Sometimes I am listing more than one app for a particular use case, so be sure to check out the links to more in-depth discussion of these apps. [Read more...]

Notes on notes on… Notability

before we hand notabilityI am a notetaking fiend. Ever since junior high, I’ve had either a stack of pens in various colors or (my fave) the Bic retractable 4-color pen. I would use red ink for  vocabulary words & names of important concepts, blue ink for explanations, green ink for things that struck a chord with me, and black for general info. I also drew pictures & diagrams to help drive concepts home. Yes, my notes were epic. I admit, I do still use those 4-color pens when I’m forced to deal with hardcopy items. Sure, I’ve grown up a little, but I still want the flexibility of using pretty colors & putting awesome pictures in my notes.

 

Enter Notability.

I first stumbled upon Notability through this Cult of Mac post, which was sent to me by @JohnWilson. At that point, I’d been using GoodReader to read & annotate PDFs. I liked GoodReader well enough (and still have it), but I felt a bit restricted in what I could do. I think Notability (iTunes link) was on sale for $0.99 at the time, so I jumped right on it. [Read more...]

Annotating PDFs with Sente for iPad (Videos)

This second-last post in the mini-series on PDF management systems gives you an insider’s look into Sente’s companion app for the iPad. Sente for iPad is free for small libraries of 100 papers or less. If you want to have more papers in a library, an academic premium account asks for a one-time fee of $30.

Its getting more complicated when your library attachments need more than 1GB storage on Sente’s servers, at which point you would have to look into storage top-ups that start at $20 a year, but bottom line is this: Sente is free for beginners, and very affordable for most people. Sente says that a premium account with 1GB storage will be good for about a total of 1000 typical journal articles (across all your libraries!), and this is pretty accurate.

However, don’t worry about paying a little extra for the non-free version (if your library has more than 100 papers) and even a yearly top-up (if all your papers take up more than 1Gb of disk space). Sente is absolutely worth its price! Why? Beyond seamlessly integrating with your Mac over the cloud, Sente for iPad also offers you a feature-rich annotation workflow that is unmatched in its functionality[Read more...]

Surprise: Papers is coming to Windows!

Papers for WindowsThis is big news! The mekentosj crew has silently rolled out a pre-release version of their upcoming Papers for Windows app. This is good news for iPad owners in academia, especially if you are also using a Windows PC – so we make an exception here and briefly talk about a Windows app on academiPad. [Read more...]

Annotating PDFs on iPad with Papers Touch (Videos)

Papers for iPadAnnotating journal articles is one of the top reasons why people in university buy an iPad. But how do you find a good annotation app, without spending a ton of money upfront?

In this mini-series on reading and annotating PDFs, previous posts have suggested that PDF management systems are great for academics who want to integrate their laptop/desktop computer and their iPad in a coherent read-write-cite workflow. The currently best PDF management solutions are Sente for Mac and Papers for Mac.  This posts reviews Papers’ companion app: Papers Touch for iPad. Its an expensive app, so I made four videos that will give you as much first-hand experience as you can get for free!  [Read more...]

Start loving to organize your PDFs with Papers for Mac

Papers 2 for MacThe best apps offer a simplistic and beautiful interface that allows people to use the software in an intuitive way. Papers by mekentosj is one of these apps: Through its iTunes-like interface, Papers allows you to organize and annotate your endless collections of journal articles in an easy and fun way.

This post is part of a series exploring the two leading PDF management systems on the Mac and iPad: Sente and Papers. Previous posts have explored the benefits of PDF management systems (in comparison to stand-alone PDF readers) and offered an in-depth review of Sente for Mac. The current post checks out Papers, following the same structure as the Sente for Mac posts: it introduces the Papers ecosystem, reviews how you can add and annotate references, and briefly talks about how you can insert in-text citations and bibliographies into your write-ups. [Read more...]

Super-charge your PDF workflow with Sente for Mac

Finding, reading, annotating, and citing journal articles is our daily bread as academics. But are we good at cutting it? How many times have you searched for “that perfect paper” you have read just a few weeks ago!? Or have you ever almost missed a submission deadline because compiling the bibliography “took a little longer”?

If you are reading a lot of journal articles (and chances are you do if you are in university), it makes sense to invest in a tightly integrated ecosystem that allows you to organize and annotate your PDFs seamlessly on the Mac and the iPad. As I mentioned in the previous guide to annotating PDFs, there are right now two contenders in a neck-to-neck race of offering the best, multi-device PDF management system: Sente and Papers. To keep the current review of Sente for Mac somehow manageable (Sente’s user manual stretches over 316 pages, just to give you an idea), it only covers the most basic functions: how to add a PDF (or reference more generally), how to organize your references, what annotations are supported, and how you can insert in-text citations and bibliographies into your write-ups. [Read more...]

The ultimate guide on how to annotate PDF files on the iPad

Ultimate guide on how to annotate PDF files on the iPadFor most people in university and college, the ability to annotate PDF files is one of the main reasons for buying an iPad. There are hundreds of apps out there that let you annotate PDFs: how do you know which one is the best one for you?

Rather than discussing one particular app in detail, this post presents the bigger picture by discussing three different user profiles whose needs are different with regards to PDF annotation and management. Once you know what type of user you are, you can check out the overview of 10 (plus 3) apps, my personal favorites, and some thoughts on using a stylus. With all this information, finding out what app you need to annotate PDF files “your style” becomes a piece of cake.

[Read more...]

Apple’s flirt with academia

The Apple Education Event that shook up the Big Apple last Thursday stirred up the usual hype that surrounds everything Apple does these days. “Apple reinvents the textbook” is a headline you can see frequently on the web. Yeah, maybe, but what are the immediate consequences for educators and students at universities and colleges? Unless your campus has gone fully iPad already, you don’t have to hold your breath. Apple’s event mainly focused on high-schools, and the few textbooks that are available right now are not for the university level. So while there is nothing going to change for you tomorrow, I believe Apple’s Education Event is an indication of changes to come in the next two to five years.

In this post, I am discussing the possible “fallout” of Apple’s Education Event. If you are interested in learning about Apple’s groundbreaking take on text annotations, or if you are interested in how Apple’s focus on education might help you to engage your students through peer-learning and customized textbooks, this post is for you. [Read more...]