Put your smartphone to work: apps for a smooth semester

With the new school year only weeks away, it’s time to get ready to get back to the grind. The daily routine of classes can be a struggle, but mobile technology can give you a leg up. Here is a list of apps to help you make the most of the new semester.

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Time Management

One thing your mobile device can help you with this semester is keeping track of deadlines and commitments, and the clock on your smartphone is not always the best solution. Instead, you can download apps that will help you keep track of your time and put the maximum amount of effort into your studies, or whatever else you want to accomplish this year.

Focus Keeper:

This app, available free and as a pro upgrade from the Apple app store, alternates periods of work with short breaks, granting you a longer break after a certain number of cycles are completed. The times for each type of break and work cycle are customizable and the app allows you to set goals for the number of cycles you want to complete in a day. With the pro version, you can even select mellow, distraction-free background noise, such as a busy café or a ticking clock, to help drown out even the busiest of study spots. Similar apps are also available for android phones.

Breakfree:

Are you curious to know how much time you actually waste doing nothing on your phone when you could be enjoying real life, or more importantly, getting your school work done? Breakfree is an app just for that. It keeps track of everything, from how much time to spend on Facebook to the number of times you check your phone in a day – it’s more than you think! You can even set the app to reject phone calls and shut off your internet access to help you keep focused. The app is available free from the App Store and Google Play Store.

Food

An important part of keeping yourself going in the new semester is food. Your brain is not going to co-operate in getting those essays done without fuel. Here are some apps to get you fed, and to keep your wallet happy in the process.

Just Eat:

This app connects you to local restaurants and offers so much more than pizza. Chinese, sushi, subs, Italian, Mexican, you name it, Just Eat has got it. With coupons offered regularly to save you anything from five to 20 per cent off of your food order, and live customer support chat on the website, Just Eat makes getting fed without having to talk to any people that much easier. The app is available free from the App Store and Google Play.

PC Plus:

This app combines flyers, coupons and a loyalty rewards card to help you get free food. Usable in any grocery store where PC products are sold — Zehrs, Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills, to name a few — scan your app and earn points. The app also keeps track of all of your grocery transactions, helping you figure out how much you’re spending on groceries each week and how many points you’re earning towards free groceries. The app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

Transportation

Getting where you need to be is half the struggle of being a student, whether you’re on or off-campus. Making it to class on time is hard work on an average day but these apps can help you become a transportation pro.

St. Catharines Transit:

St. Catharines Transit app

St. Catharines Transit app

Taking the bus is not always awesome, but it is usually necessary. Instead of waiting around outside for the bus to show up, get the St. Catharines Transit app, which gives you real time information for many services including St. Catharines transit and schedules for many others including GO transit and the TTC. The app will tell you exactly where your bus is, when the next one will arrive at your stop, and even give you directions with bus connections to wherever you want to go. The app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

Gas Buddy:

If you’re not taking the bus, you probably have a car. Gas prices however, can be as much of an adventure as public transit. Gas Buddy tells you where the most affordable gas in your area is based on reports from other users. It saves you the trouble of wasting even more gas driving around looking for a good price.

See cheap gas? Report it on the app and help out your fellow users. The app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

Note Taking

You studied, you ate, and you made it to class. Now it’s time to take notes and get the most out of that dearly paid tuition. These apps can help you take notes any way you like to, keeping you learning in your own way and making sure you get work done.

Evernote:

The ubiquitous note-taking app Evernote is popular for a reason. It lets you do just about anything with your notes, typing, drawing on them, dragging in photos and video, and lots more. Another plus is you can access them from your phone, your tablet,  or your computer. Now there really is no excuse not to take notes in class because you can do it even if all you have is your phone. The app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

Microsoft OneNote:             

This app is essentially the Microsoft version of Evernote. Create multiple notebooks, collaborate with your friends, even drop in a PDF so you can highlight and make notes on it, this app does all kinds of things. It’s also available across multiple platforms. Use it on your tablet, laptop, desktop, or your mobile phone. Brock is now offering Microsoft Office ProPlus for all students and faculty as of June, which includes OneNote. Students and faculty can now download and use the software on their computers and mobile devices locally. The app is available for free from the App Store and Google Play.

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