Apps for smartphone, tablet make the school year easier

As you prepare for the start of another school year, that smartphone, tablet, iPod Touch or similar device in your pocket or purse might be your most indispensable school supply.

We asked readers to share their favorite apps for keeping track of schedules, handling homework and staying organized at school or at home. Most of the apps are free or cost $2 or less. Not all are available for every device, so check your app store for variations and alternatives.



– Never lose a paper – or forget it at home – again. Load Dropbox onto your computer and save your papers, photos, video presentations or other important stuff into it. Then you can access them from any computer or smart device. (Great for teachers, too.)

• Evernote – Free service with tons of features, including text recognition: Take a picture of a syllabus or assignment, and it’s instantly searchable. Sync notes between your computer and smartphone. Create to-do lists, capture photos, record voice and audio notes, organize notes and share them via Facebook or Twitter.

• iCal or Google Calendar – Synchronize family members’ calendars so you know who needs to be where when. Set alerts to remind kids of appointments or parents of pick-up times.


iStudiez Pro

– Lets older elementary through college-age students track homework assignments, test and quiz scores, class dates and times, and more.



– Keep courses, school work, grades, to-do lists, teacher information and more at your fingertips. Sync information between your Mac and other iDevices.


Exam Countdown

– Keep track of upcoming exams, tests and projects. Get tips from experts and other students. And when you’re feeling especially confident or freaked-out, you can hit a button and easily share your feelings with friends on Facebook.


Kahn Academy

– Students love

, and now that knowledge has been harnessed into a handy app. Learn almost anything for free, including K-12 math, science, humanities, finance and history, by downloading or watching any of the Academy’s library of more than 4,200 videos.


Google Translate

– Useful when you’re stumped by Spanish homework, or to figure out Latin word roots.



– The complete works of Shakespeare in one place, along with a searchable concordance to find the exact word or phrase you’re looking for.



– A mobile version of the popular website, which allows users to collect notes, set study reminders and make digital flashcards.



– Delivers more than 50,000 classic titles to your iPhone, iPad or iPad for free. A file sharing option allows you to transfer books to and from your laptop or desktop computer.



– An entire dictionary and thesaurus, and a “Word of the Day” to help build your vocabulary.


National Geographic’s World Atlas HD

– Spin the globe, find a country, learn about it, see its flag, get an up-to-the-minute weather report, check currency conversion rates and more.



– Powerful, high-quality scientific graphing calculator for your iPhone or iPad. Simple interface makes it easy to enter or edit equations and visualize them in mathematical notation, both in 2D and 3D.

• The Chemical Touch – Explore the properties of the elements, standard amino acids and nucleobases. Features a touch-sensitive periodic table and chemical information companion.

• TED – Access more than 1,400 TEDTalk video presentations from some of the world’s most fascinating people: educators, tech geniuses, business gurus, music legends and more. Educational, inspirational and entertaining.

• Remind101 – A safe, free way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents without having to share cell phone numbers.

• ArtKive – Your child just brought home another priceless self-portrait or hand-print turkey? Keep the masterpiece but lose the clutter. This app lets you snap a photo of the artwork, give it a title, add comments and upload it to the cloud.

• GoodReads – If you love, be sure to get the mobile app. It’s an easy way to keep track of what you want to read, review the books you’ve read and look at what your friends are reading. When you’re in a bookstore or library, the barcode scanner lets you easily add interesting books to your “want-to-read” shelf. Join online book clubs to connect with other readers, and view literary events near you.

• A Family Matters – When everyone’s busy with school, work and other activities, it can be hard to reconnect. This app provides nearly 1,000 conversation-starter questions to prompt thoughtful discussions whenever you’re sitting down together – in the car, at a restaurant or waiting for the game to start.