iPhone Apps – Because we could all use help, especially while studying abroad
I know a commercial exists with the tagline, “there’s an app for that”, and while I can’t remember anything else about said commercial, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing to know is that, from toilet locators to virtual classrooms, there’s an app to make just about every aspect of study abroad life a little bit (if not a lot) easier, and in the end, make your experience a whole lot better. The compliment to “The Study Abroad Student’s Guide To Using The iPhone Abroad“, here’s the Top 50 iPhone Apps For Studying Abroad.
A Few Of My Recommended Apps
1. Where To Go? – If you need to find the closest bar, grocery store, pharmacy, taxi company or historical point-of-interest, WhereToGo is the app that will help you get there. It works globally, has over 500 location types and even provides turn-by-turn directions to your chosen destination. It’s fully customizable with a very simple interface, and if you can’t decide “Where To Go”, you can use the Shake-to-Suggest feature to explore and experiment.
2. SitOrSquat: Restroom Finder – A piece of pure genius if you ask me, the SitOrSquat app lets you access and record bathroom information wherever you go. All of the restroom content is added by users, and the database currently has over 100,000 bathrooms. Map results with an interactive, location-based map, rate restrooms by choosing “Sit” (you enjoyed the bathroom) or “Squat” (it could be better), add public restrooms to the database by entering basic location information and optional details like pictures and features, filter results by choosing specific features, and bookmark your favorite locations or map out locations for an upcoming trip.
3. Awesome Note (+ToDo) – Awesome Note is capable of unlimited note-taking uses including memos, diaries, must-remember info, to-do lists, travel journals and ongoing projects, and supports a built-in graphical calendar.
4. Healix Travel Vaccinations – A great app for checking which vaccinations you need when traveling to any country around the world. It provides you with travel risks and advice and is easy to use, and gets straight to the point.
5. Packing – While a paper and pencil will work just as well, you may not have them lying around, and even if you do, this might make you less likely to procrastinate. Create lists of necessary items and check them off as you go, everything you need when attempting to pack.
6. Visual Travel Checklist – Visual Travel Checklist (VTC) is a travel essential application that helps you prepare and pack for your trips. VTC provides an intuitive user interface which allows you to create up to 10 different checklists with 250+ tasks and items, all represented by their own unique icons. As a bonus, there’s even a built-in visual tutorial.
Flight Booking Apps
7. Gate Guru – GateGuru allows you to receive real-time flight status information (including push notifications), view your TripIt and KAYAK itineraries, view / post airport security wait times, see a structured list of airport food, shops and services – including over 30,000 reviews and tips and 5,000 photos from fellow travelers on airports, terminals, and airport amenities and more.
8. Skyscanner All Flights Everywhere – Skyscanner All Flights Everywhere is a quick and convenient way to find and book flights from any location to any destination. It provides all the necessary flight information, airlines and prices and then allows you a range of ways to book your selection. It also gives you flight details of alternative booking agents like Expedia.
9. Kayak – (I would venture to guess most people are familiar with Kayak by now, but just in case) The Kayak is a multi-purpose travel app, helping you find and book flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. It allows you to compare prices across a number of other travel aggregators like Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline, comparing hundreds of travel packages all at once. Kayak is also handy for tracking flights, managing trips and itineraries, looking up baggage fees, and more.
Hotel and Hostel Apps
10. Hostelworld.com – The Hostelworld.com app is a quick and secure way to book a hostel while on the go. Search from over 25,000 hostels and budget properties in over 6,000 destinations worldwide. Read over 2 million user reviews, and view detailed property information including photos and descriptions to help you decide where to stay. When I book hostels, I always book through Hostelworld!
11. Hipmunk – Hipmunk takes the agony out of flight & hotel search – it literally saved me from having to pay an extra $500 on a flight home from China. With Hipmunk you’ll see all the relevant flights on a timeline, sorting the choices by “agony,” which incorporates factors like how long you’ll be traveling and how many stops you’ll make. Hotel results are shown on a map so you can see exactly where you’ll be staying, and you can also turn on heat maps that will show you which areas are best to stay in based on unique interests like food, landmarks, nightlife and more.
12. AroundMe – AroundMe allows you to quickly find out information about your surroundings by identifying your position and allowing you to choose the nearest Bank, Bar, Gas Station, Hospital, Hotel, Movie Theater, Restaurant, Supermarket, Theater or Taxi. AroundMe shows you a complete list of all the businesses in the category you have tapped on along with the distance from where you are, and for every listing you can choose to see its location on a Map, view the route from where you are, add the information to your contact list or even email the information to a friend.
13. The Weather Channel – Probably one of the most important apps when you’re out traveling or exploring, The Weather Channel provides the most accurate and relevant weather information whenever and wherever you are. With 200+ meteorologists and ultra-local TruPoint(sm) forecasting technology, it provides you with the weather tools you need to plan your day, week, or even the next hour.
14. Trip Journal – The travel app that makes it easy to create a travelogue of your travel experiences and share them with friends and family. You can add full resolution travel photos and videos to your iPhone Photo Gallery or take them right in Trip Journal, then add comments and write notes in the journal to describe your experiences. With Google Earth integration, Trip Journal allows friends and family to easily see the route you traveled, the places you found most interesting, and full screen photos, videos, and comments about the places you visited. It even includes trip stats like the distance, time and geography you traveled.
15. TripAdvisor – It’s always nice to know what other travelers think. With TripAdvisor Hotels Flights Restaurants, you can read real reviews and opinions from over 50 million fellow globetrotters. Write and post your own reviews. And when you find a place you really like, save it to your favorites so you can find it again when you revisit.
16. TripIt – TripIt is an easier way to organize and share travel. TripIt automatically takes all your trip details and creates an itinerary that’s there when and where you need it – on your iPhone or iPad, sync’d with your calendar, and online at tripit.com. When you receive a confirmation email from anywhere you book, just forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. TripIt instantly recognizes reservations from 3,000+ booking sites including cruises, restaurants, concerts and more. You can easily share trip plans with family or colleagues directly, or let Facebook and LinkedIn contacts know when and where you’re headed.
17. Lonely Planet Travel Guides – Start your journey by downloading the free Lonely Planet Travel Guides app. You can buy and store your Lonely Planet country guides, city guides, audio phrasebooks and audio walking tours. The 80+ City guide apps feature GPS tracking and offline maps, hundreds of places to visit & things to do, and background content from their guidebooks all wrapped up in an easy to use app that doesn’t require an internet connection, so it works everywhere with no data or roaming fees.
18. Trip Boss Expense & Budget – Trip Boss Expense & Budget was truly made for the conscious budget traveler. With Trip Boss you can record and track expenses in 50+ expense categories, with the option to display foreign expenses in your home currency. When it comes to the actual purchase, you’re provided with a tip/split calculator and currency converter, and you can even take photos of receipts for use with the included reimbursement functions.
19. Red Laser – Red Laser allows you to scan all major retail barcodes (including UPC, EAN, UPC-E, and EAN-8) and QR codes, as well as search for prices from thousands of online and local retailers for millions of products. Keyword, Voice, and Image recognition search to find the best deal, even when you don’t have a barcode, and you can create personalized QR codes with your info, contacts, website’s URL, geolocation and more.
20. Mint.com – The Mint.com app allows you to track, budget and manage your money all in one place, so you can see where you’re spending and where you can save. Open an account, add your bank, credit, loan and retirement accounts and Mint will automatically pull in and categorize your transactions. Mint creates a customized budget based on your actual spending, and sends bill reminders, alerts and advice right to your device so you can avoid late fees and monitor cash flow. It’s safe, secure and easy to keep your personal finances organized.
21. Converter Plus – This all-in-one calculation app delivers numbers on nearly everything and has an extensive list of currencies and units in hundreds of categories. The list includes area, weight, energy, force, length, mass, power, pressure, speed, temperature, volume, bits and bytes and many more.
22. XE Currency – XE Currency takes a simple app to a whole new level. It features live rates and charts from every world currency, and even stores the last updated rates so it works when the Internet doesn’t. You’ll be able to simultaneously monitor up to 10 currencies, pin your base currency to the top, and shake your iPhone to refresh rates.
23. Share-a-bill – With the “Share-a-bill” app, you can define individual events and the group of people involved in each event. Enter each expense on the fly and keep track of who paid and how much. When you’re abroad, you can also define several currencies and their exchange rates. At the end of the trip/event, everybody knows exactly who owes what to whom, and if need be, you can email a detailed report from the event to your friends.
24. Camera+ – According to TIME Magazine, if the iPhone’s standard camera is like a digital point-and-shoot, the Camera+ app is like a high-quality SLR lens. Developed by a professional photographer, Camera+ includes a burst mode for action shots, an image stabilizer and even a timer for self-portraits. But the real fun begins after you trip the shutter. The app lets you manipulate your photos with crops, borders, color tints and retro effects. For the iPhone user serious about taking beautiful photos, it’s $1.99 well spent.
25. PhotoSynth – Photosynth for iOS is the panorama creation app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events. Using the latest in computer vision techniques, you can not only make a panorama from left to right, but also up and down, enabling you to capture a full “sphere”. Once you’ve created a Photosynth, you can share it on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also publish your panoramas to Bing, on Bing Maps and in Bing search results.
26. Adobe Photoshop Express 2.0 – Photoshop is pretty much the name when it comes to photo editing software, and while you don’t want too many complicated photo editing features on a device that fits in the palm of your hand, Photoshop Express has just enough tools to get some real work done. It comes with basic editing features, color adjustment, filters, a handful of essential effects and several borders, as well as a free price tag.
27. Instagram – Not much needs to be said about this one that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll keep it short. Use Instagram to add depth to your photos with one-tap special effects. Choose from custom-designed filters and borders to turn each photo into a work of art. Then upload your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more.
28. Snapseed – Anyone can enhance, transform, and share their photos with the incredibly advanced but easy to use features from the Snapseed app. Easily adjust your photos with a single tap using Auto Correct, tweak your photo to perfection with Tune Image, use Selective Adjust to enhance specific objects or areas in your photos, experiment with different filters like Drama, Vintage, Grunge, and Tilt-Shift, add Image Borders for a finishing touch, then finally share your creations via email, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram.
29. Dropbox – Other apps exist for transferring content between your computer and your device, but Dropbox is free and easier to use than just about any other. Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere, and any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, your iPhone and iPad and even the Dropbox website. Read your docs or flip through your albums when you’re out and about, and save photos or videos to your Dropbox and share them with friends in just a couple taps. Even if you accidentally lose iPhone, your stuff is always safe on Dropbox.
30. Evernote – Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders, and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. You can organize notes by notebooks and tags, email notes and save tweets to your Evernote account, and share notes with friends and classmates via Facebook and Twitter
31. Skype – While FaceTime is a great alternative to standard voice calls, it doesn’t work if you want to contact someone without a Mac or compatible iOS device, leaving Skype in front. With Skype for your iPhone or iPod touch, you can call, video call and instant message anyone else on Skype for free, plus call and text your Contacts (or any other number) at Skype’s low rates. It’s great value with Skype Credit. The app is free to download and works over 3G or Wi-Fi.
32. Vonage Mobile – The Vonage Mobile app was something I had written about back before I came to China. They changed the name on me, but that’s okay because apparently they also made the app 10x better starting with free app-to-app calls and texts. It works over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G data networks worldwide for better call clarity and connection quality, plus you can add credit directly from iTunes so you don’t have to leave the app. As awesome as FaceTime and Skype are, for those who want to call a land line or someone without an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the Vonage Mobile app is a great alternative.
33. Tweetbot – Tweetbot is currently considered to be at the top when it comes to the list of Twitter apps, even surpassing the actual Twitter app. With Tweetbot you can quickly switch between your lists as your main timeline, use Twitter more efficiently with time-saving and configurable gestures, block messages from users without unfollowing them, sync timeline position, direct message, read statuses, mute filters between iPhone and iPad via iCloud, and much more than what I have space for here.
34. Facebook – It’s pretty much a given, but I included it anyway. Facebook for iPhone lets you stay connected and share with friends on the go. Start a chat, keep up with friends’ photos and status updates, look up a phone number, upload photos to Facebook and more—right from your iPhone. Plus full access to games and apps, bookmarks, and Facebook search, all without having to click around or switch views.
35. WhatsApp Messenger – WhatsApp Messenger is basically the ultimate in app-to-app communication. It utilizes push notifications to instantly get messages from friends, colleagues and family. Switch from SMS to exchange messages, pictures, audio notes and video messages with WhatsApp users at no cost. WhatsApp uses whatever Internet connection, 3G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, when available, and there’s no cost to send WhatsApp messages internationally. Chat with anyone as long as they have WhatsApp Messenger installed.
Translation and Dictation Apps
36. Google Translate – While the ordinary iPhone user might not use it too often, this is a must for study abroad students. The Google Translate app translates words and phrases between more than 60 languages. Depending on the language, you also have the ability to translate by speaking the text instead of typing it, listen to your translations spoken aloud, access your translation history even when you’re offline, and spell out the translation of non-Latin script languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, etc..) in Latin characters to read it phonetically.
37. Dragon Dictation – Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to speak and instantly see your text or email messages. With Dragon Dictation you can also dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications (Facebook and Twitter) or send notes and reminders to yourself, all using your voice. Convenience is key when you’re abroad so when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking.
38. Interpret – One of the most powerful language translators available for the iPhone, Interpret translation app leverages both Google and Bing translation engines. Interpret provides free translation for over 50 languages, both individual words and entire sentences, and allows you to email your translations, post your translations to Facebook, Tweet your translations on Twitter, tag translations as favorites, and save a list of recent translations.
39. Word Lens – Word Lens is a “real-time” translation app that you have to see to believe (watch video below!). The app uses augmented-reality technology to translate foreign text in real-time. Just point the app at the text and watch Word Lens instantly transform it into English text. The app is free, and you can purchase language packs from within thew app for $9.99.
40. BBC News – The BBC News app is designed to give you quick access to breaking stories from their global network of journalists. View news stories by geographical region, by categories including business, technology, entertainment and sports, and in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic. The coolest feature is probably the one minute video news summaries that keep you updated on the go.
41. NYTimes – The improved NYTimes app for iPhone has more content including blogs, videos and slide shows, and you get free access to the Top News section or full access to over 25 sections and blogs with a Times Digital subscription. Save articles to revisit later from any device, add your favorite blogs to your section list so that they’re always updated and accessible, and share articles, photos and videos through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.
42. AP Mobile – Get breaking U.S. and International news from the AP, the world’s trusted news source, plus local stories from 1000+ local news sources. Choose, and share the news you want, from essential categories like U.S. news, world news, sports and entertainment. Also get the best of award-winning photos, videos and rich multimedia coverage.
43. Wikipanion – I’m still waiting for the day you can legitimately cite Wikipedia but I digress. Wikipanion has been designed for easy search, navigation and display of Wikipedia entries. Streamline your browsing with history grouped by visit date, and bookmarking that not only bookmarks individual entries, but individual sections within an entry. Featuring intelligent features such as multiple search methods, dual language searching and language switching, wiktionary dictionary, interactive font resizing, and image saving to the Photo library.
44. Dictionary.com – Yes, it’s just a dictionary, but it’s a dictionary/thesaurus that fits in the palm of your hand, and it’s free. Access over 2,000,000 definitions, synonyms & antonyms, daily content, including Word of the Day & The Hot Word, audio pronunciation, spelling suggestions, popular & local trending searches, and if you’re bored, you can shake your iPhone to receive a random, surprise word.
45. iBooks – Essentially iTunes for books, iBooks is a convenient way to download any and all iBooks included the iBookstore. (You can read a free sample of any book on the iBookstore before making it a part of your collection.) Browse your library on a virtual bookshelf, tap a book to open it, flip through pages with a swipe or a tap, and bookmark or add notes to your favorite passages.
46. Kindle – While the Kindle is almost the same as iBooks, it’s one advantage is that it offers a massive selection of books compared to Apple’s iBook app. The Kindle app is optimized for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, giving users the ability to read Kindle books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks and PDFs on an easy-to-use interface. You’ll have access to over 1,000,000 books in the Kindle Store plus hundreds of newspapers and magazines. Amazon Whispersync automatically syncs your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across devices so you can pick up your book where you left off on another device.
47. Flashcards Deluxe – This is the flashcard app for those that like simplicity and efficiency. It has two smart study modes that automatically focus more on the cards you miss, text to speech (TTS) audio in 18 languages, spelling tests (listen to audio and use keyboard to answer), and the ability to include pictures and sounds. There is a database of over four million flashcards and each card can have up to five sides. It supports Dropbox, Google Docs and USB transfers
48. iTunes U – The iTunes U app gives you access to complete courses from leading universities and other schools — plus the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content — right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Take free courses created and taught by instructors from leading universities, take notes and highlight text in iBooks, and access course materials, including audio, video, books, documents & presentations, apps, and new iBooks textbooks. You’ll also have access to more than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books, and other resources on thousands of subjects from Algebra to Zoology.
49. SparkNotes – Get today’s most popular study guides for literature, Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, drama and short stories. Access 50 pre-installed study guides in your library, hundreds of study guides available online, or download any SparkNotes study guide to your mobile device for offline use. Check in with a customized Facebook update to easily share your location and start a study group right from your phone. The check-in update will appear on the Place page, your friends’ Facebook News Feed and your Wall.
50. Wi-Fi Finder – If you’re traveling overseas, international data charges can steal a serious amount of cash from your wallet, so using Wi-Fi instead of 3G is often your best option. With the Wi-Fi Finder app, you can quickly and easily find free or paid Wi-Fi in over 650,000 locations in 144 countries worldwide. Using the GPS function on your iPhone, the Wi-Fi finder will tell you exactly where the closest Wi-Fi hotspot is, and if you prefer certain providers such as Comcast, you’ll be able to see which hotspots are served by those providers. You can also filter by location type (restaurant, cafe, hotel, etc.).
And there you have it, The Study Abroad Blog’s list of the top 50 study abroad iPhone apps. While you don’t want to be the one glued to your phone’s screen the entire semester, if you’re need help while you’re abroad, you probably don’t need to look much further than the palm of your hand.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments!