Cross-Platform Must Have Apps for the College Student

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There was a time when the Android and iOS catalogue essentially ran on two different planes. If you wanted to use Apple, you had to go all Apple, and the same applied for Android. However, in 2015, that is no longer a feasible market strategy for any developer that wants the proper exposure, popularity and revenue. While it’s a bit more time consuming for the company, it can be very beneficial for the consumers that make use of certain services on a range of devices.

When I went to college in 2013, I had an LG Optimus G and an iPad (alongside my Macbook Pro, of course). There was a good range of apps made using cross platform mobile app development frameworks, but I ultimately had to trade in my iPad for a Galaxy Note 10.1 because of the apps I was using; they simply weren’t available on iOS. Now, I’m in my second semester, sophomore year and I’m back to an iPad and a ZTE ZMAX (soon to be LG G3). I realize that with the way I work, among other factors, I have to pick a more diverse, universally available set of apps to keep my busy college life on track. I want to help the post-secondary readers with a good list of apps that will hopefully make your university endeavors more manageable. Without further ado, here are a list of cross-platform apps for the college student.

1. Google Play Music

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While it may not be your conventional “productivity” app, it falls under this category because working while listening to music is quite common among students. Some may opt for heavy metal, others may prefer studying to Jazz. Most blogs give the best “music” app slot to Spotify, but I’m going to bank on Google Play Music because of the fact that it offers not only a subscription-based service, but you can upload 50,000 of your own songs. That’s not a typo, you can literally upload 50,000 songs of your personal collection to Google Play, for free, using just your gmail account. This is a perfect option for those that are avid iTunes users and have purchased or accumulated a collection of songs. The iOS app is new, and may have a few chinks in it’s armor, but Google does a good job of patching holes.

Note: The screenshot says 20,000 songs, they just haven’t update the app to note the new change

2. Google Drive

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I’m not going to plague this article with a list of Google apps, but there’s a reason that it’s here. For the average user, it gives you 15GB of space. If you’re uploading papers and presentations, that should be more than enough space (and this space is independent of the space used by Google Play Music, for those that don’t know). What’s interesting about Google Drive is that if your college uses Google Apps for Education, using your “.edu” email address, you get “unlimited” Drive space. I have the Google Drive app installed on my Macbook pro, and it says I have 10TB (Terabytes) of space, which is massive unless you’re uploading hard drives of data. So far, I have 60GB backed up to an email address I had from the school I went to before I transferred to the college I attend now.

I’ll go ahead and give an honorable mention to Dropbox for those that don’t have a Google AFE email addresses. Before I became a Drive user, I was a die hard Dropbox person. It only starts you off with 2GB of storage, which is still more than enough for backing up your papers (Stop and read this: Technology is imperfect, BACK UP YOUR SCHOOL WORK!), but if you need more space for bigger projects, DB has an awesome referral program, or you could opt for the $9.99/month, 1TB plan, as well as the $15/Month Unlimited space plan. The latter comes out to about $180/year, and the former comes in at $120/year, respectively. If you have the need, it’s a wonderful investment.

3. Sunrise Calendar

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Sunrise Calendar is a life-saver for a multitude of reasons. Outside of simply being a beautifully designed app, it is highly functional for the greatest price known to man: free. One of it’s biggest features is that you can synchronize a wide array of calendars to it. This includes iCloud, Google Calendar, Exchange Calendar, Facebook, Evernote, Twitter, and so many more. I kept my class schedule in my Google Calendar, and it was a seamless migration over to Sunrise. I can also kill multiple birds with one stone by having my class schedule, my Trello reminders and my Facebook Birthday reminders, all in one. I really do my best to be a good friend. Sunrise has saved me from many inexplicable “Happy Belated Birthday” texts.

4. Trello

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Speaking of Trello, this app is especially beneficial for group projects or if you are running a student organization (speaking from experience). It allows you to set up boards with information, all for either personal organization or for a group of users to see and contribute to. This was the greatest thing next to a refund check when I was head of the Marketing Committee in the Student Government Association. It also came in handy when I had a group research project in history class. At the time that I was using it, there was no iOS app, but it is now available for both iOS and Android.

5. Evernote

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I will be the first to say that I didn’t really understand the Evernote hype, but after taking some time to get to know it, the app is now one of my most used tools. Outside of being your conventional note-taking app, it sports a wide array of features that make it essential for the college student. One of the features that I’m sure a great deal of users will find useful is the Evernote “clipping” tool for Google Chrome (desktop version only, though). This heaven-sent feature allows you to clip (save) articles and web pages to a notebook in your Evernote account. If you don’t like the look of the webpage with all those ads and whatnot, you can opt to save the page in an array of formats ranging from the optimized “Article” view to the equally awesome “Bookmark” setting. While that feature in itself isn’t a mobile add-on, imagine how much easier it will be to keep all of your research notes for a particular paper or project in an organized notebook that is there wherever you are. I’m sure that you’re tired of lugging around those folders with papers. Nothing cramps a good outfit like a bulky bookbag.

6. Honorable mentions

These aren’t apps that are as vital for the college student as the ones mentioned above, but they are definitely worth mentioning. At the top of the HM list is your school’s app (if applicable). They have great information like directories and school news. You also want to get the Blackboard app, which helps you keep track of your grades and assignments. I can’t speak for every school, but I have a lot of friends that go to school all over the country, and they all use blackboard. Make sure you have the app for your bank. College is the perfect time to learn financial literacy if you haven’t already. At this age, if you don’t have a bank account yet, please make it a priority to get one.

Mint by Intuit is also a great app for logging your financial history. I remember this night that I was helping some friends set up a raging party festive get together, and spent money like it was my last day on earth, from the place where the party was going to be hosted all the way to the DJ! We had a great time, but my debit card was short just shy of $200 from my contribution to the party, and Mint helped me see the error of my ways.

This is a short list of apps that would make any college experience a bit easier, but it’s far from all of the apps that could help. Have an app that you use that you think should be included on the list? Let us know down in the comment section.

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