iPad and iPhone apps

Lorna Walker gave an excellent introduction to a number of iPad apps that are useful for academics, both for teaching and research. Here is her summary…..

“Social networking apps

Twitter (free for iPhone, iPad and Android)

Facebook (free for iPhone, iPad and Android)

I tend to view Facebook through the browser rather than using a specific app however I do have an app called MyPad which combines together my Twitter feed with Facebook updates. The main benefit of using an app rather than the browser is that it can be set to send you automatic notifications when something happens (you are mentioned in a tweet, someone posts on your Facebook wall etc). This app is free but does show ads. You can pay a small amount more to upgrade to an ad-free version.

Linkedin (free for iPhone, iPad and Android)

There is no iPad version of the proprietary Linkedin iPhone app but this works fine on the iPad too.

Flipboard (free)

Flipboard is a free app which combines together all your social media feeds (in my case Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin) as well as a great selection of other feeds which can be personalised (for instance this is the app I use to view the blogs I follow via RSS) or chosen from a predetermined list (Guardian money pages, home style pages, gardening pages etc). The cool thing about it is the way that it presents all the information in magazine format. Visually it’s very appealing and it makes it much easier to pick out useful information from tweets etc as if someone includes a link in their tweet Flipboard will show you the first couple of paragraphs of whatever they are linking to so you can judge if it is of interest or not. You can flag things as interesting, email links to people and store stuff to Instapaper from within this app.

Storage and document management apps

Evernote (free / available for both iPhone and iPad and Android)

Evernote makes iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad into an extension of your brain and lets you keep notes, ideas, snapshots and recordings stored within folders that you set up. Instantly synchronizes from your iPhone to your Mac or Windows desktop. Evernote allows you to store any kind of content – text, photo, audio, webpages, video – and access it from anywhere. You can also make notes directly within Evernote and email content into it.

Dropbox (free / available for both iPhone and iPad and Android)

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again and no need to carry all your files around on a memory stick. Install Dropbox on your home computer and any files which you include within your dropbox folder will be accessible to you anywhere that you have internet access. This app lets you access them via your iPad. This is the main way in which I store documents that I want to refer to in meetings, for instance. Any changes that you make to a document in one place will be automatically synced back to the original version.

Instapaper(free / available for both iPhone and iPad)

Instapaper is a ‘read later’ app which enables you to save stuff you see on the internet (or are sent via email) for reading later. You don’t then need internet access to read things stored in Instapaper so it’s a good way of making use of an underground commute, for instance. You can install a ‘read later’ button on your browser or as a bookmark which you simply click anytime you want to save something for later. You can also email stuff into Instapaper. Once there you can save things, flag them as favourites, move them onto Evernote or Dropbox, or email them anywhere. This specific app isn’t available on Android but there are Instapaper clients designed specifically for Android.

Apps for researchers / writers

Mendeley lite (free / available for both iPhone and iPad)

This specific app isn’t available on Android but there are Mendeley apps designed specifically for Android. Mendeley is a free reference management tool. If you have it installed on your home computer then you can use this app to access your references via your phone or pad wherever you are.

Mindnode (£6.99 / available for both iPhone and iPad)

This is one of the best mind mapping apps that I have found. Very clear, intuitive and simple to use. Built in function to email your completed mindmaps in various different formats including PNG images and PDFs as well as the option to send to Dropbox or to your camera roll at which point it can be treated like any other picture.

iDesk(£4.99 for iPad / iPhone version is £3.99)

This is a diagram-making app which you can use to draw flow charts, process charts, models, organisation charts or indeed any other kind of diagram you like. It is fairly intuitive to use and I have found it to be a quick and easy way of capturing my thinking as I read. Finished diagrams can be exported to iTunes, uploaded to Dropbox, sent to Facebook or emailed in various formats including as image files or PDFs. It’s a good way of quickly drawing a diagram which you can then easily get onto your PC / laptop for addition to a word doc. There is a ‘lite’ version which is free.

Index Card (£2.99 / iPad only)

If mind maps don’t do it for you, you might like Index Card as an alternative way of mapping the structure of your thinking. It presents you with a virtual cork board onto which you pin index cards with key concepts on them, which you can then move around as you wish. It’s a good way of storyboarding an idea or developing the structure of a piece of writing. As with all the apps above everything you create can be exported to dropbox, iTunes or emailed to yourself in various formats.

Soundnote(£2.99 / iPad only)

I have played around with quite a few note taking apps and this is by some way my favourite. It enables you to take notes either typing on the ipad screen or using an external keyboard, or to write directly onto the screen with your finger or a stylus. However the really cool thing is that you can also set it to record the lecture or meeting of which you are taking notes. You then have a set of written notes layered over the top of a sound recording of the meeting. Touch the screen at any point in your notes and the app will play you the audio of that part of the meeting. Fantastic for anyone who is minuting meetings and really useful for students who want to be able to refer back to what a lecturer said when they look at their notes. Again the output can be emailed or loaded directly into Dropbox either with or without the sound.


Apps for teachers

ShowMe(free / iPad only)

This app effectively turns your iPad into an interactive whiteboard which you can then use to record videos to be exported or accessed via a weblink. Included within the app is a huge library of many other ShowMes which have been made for all different subjects. You can import pictures and draw on them or just draw directly onto the white board. It is probably particularly useful for language teachers, quants teachers and anyone who wants to make a short video explaining a model.

Explain Everything (£1.99 / iPad only)

This app is very similar to ShowMe but also enables you to make a slide show with multiple pages to it, again which can include pictures, audio and live drawing and then be exported to all the usual places (email, Dropbox, Evernote etc). If students have this on their iPads you could ask them to prepare their own Explain Everythings on a particular topic (even during class) and then email them to you for viewing later in the class.

Socrative (free / available for both iPad and iPhone and Android)

This app enables you to run live quizzes during class to which students can respond by using their phones / pads. It’s similar to the voting clickers that we have but works without needing students to have the clickers. It doesn’t integrate with powerpoint but works as a separate thing. To show the results on screen you’d need a cable to get the iPad to output to the projector.

iAnnotate PDF(£6.99 / iPad and Android only)

This is one of the best PDF annotation apps that I have found (having experimented with a few), hence the price. There is a ‘lite’ version of this which is free and there are other annotation apps available which do have iPhone versions (neu.Annotate+ PDF, for example). Using iAnnotate you can import any PDFs and then draw on them, take notes on them, highlight sections, add audio commentary and a whole raft of other features. The finished item can then be exported along with all your additions. I tend to use this for taking notes on journal papers when I’m reading on the train but it could also be used for marking on the go if students submitted their work as PDF files.

Various sources for more information

These generally relate to school teaching but lots of the ideas can easily be adapted for HE.