Tech It Out

Even good ole Abe realizes how helpful a smartphone can be!

You know I’m a nerd…but I’m also a techie! Whenever one of my friends has a computer problem or a software question, they ask me. So, I decided to share some of my knowledge with you guys! Like most other college students, my smartphone is my constant companion. Since all of my professors communicate by email and BlackBoard posts, it’s really important that I be able to receive, read, and reply back with any questions I may have. I do so much more with my iPhone though! I want to introduce you guys to some really great apps that have made my college life so much easier and less hectic. Some people use Android or Windows phones, but my preferred platform is the iPhone because it links to my computer through iCloud. If you don’t have a smartphone, don’t fret-many of these things are easily done with good ole fashion pencil and paper as well. I’ll be talking about three different apps: two to help me study and stay organized, and one to help me chill out. I use paper planners (see E-Learning is Excellent), but sometimes I still need that extra reminder of “Hey! You have something due tomorrow!” because I have a lot going on. Having an app that allows me to speed up a lecture is really beneficial because I can listen to a lecture in less time, but still get all the information out of it.

iStudiezPro-$2.99 in Apple App Store

(Don’t want to pay? Check out iStudiezPro Lite!)

The iStudiez icon, with the badge showing how many assignments I have to finish.
The iStudiez icon, with the badge showing how many assignments I have to finish.

This is THE MOST WONDERFUL app for college students. No exaggerations. I’m the kind of person that use to carry around a planner with 6 pens to color-code when assignments were due and the days that tests were scheduled. If I didn’t have my planner,  I was completely lost. iStudiez has totally changed the way I go about college life.

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The “Calendar” tab shows me a monthly and daily view of my schedule.

This is how it works: at the beginning of each semester, I put in my class schedule and assign different colors to each class. I like to have lectures and labs of the same class as shades of the same color so that they stay linked in my mind when I glance at my roster. Then, I can set an alert for notifications to remind me when I have a class coming up. My reminder is set at 20 minutes—enough time for me to get from basically anywhere on LMU’s campus up to Math & Science, where the majority of my classes are, with plenty of time to spare.

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I can sort my assignments many different ways, and easily see at a glance how many tasks I have to complete with the badge.

The “Calendar” tab lays out my monthly schedule, with each colored dot corresponding to my classes. Red flags are exams and paper clips are when assignments are due. iStudiez also syncs with my iCalendar so that all of my school, home, and band events show up in addition to my classes, which is really handy.

iStudiez doesn’t just stop at alerting me to go to class, though. The most useful feature, in my humble opinion, is the “Assignment” tab, which allows me to toggle between my current (unfinished) assignments and completed assignments, and then further organize them by due date, course, or priority. When my professors give a new assignment and I input it into iStudiez, I can also choose to set a reminder in case my plate gets full; I usually go with the day before the due date at noon. The app has badges that let me know how many assignments I still have to complete, which is really handy—they show up on the app icon so I don’t even have to open the app to know I still have some homework left to do.

SpeedUp (Lite)-Free in App Store

Adding tracks from my phone to SpeedUp's playlist is really easy!
Adding tracks from my phone to SpeedUp’s playlist is really easy!

I like to record my lectures, and then play them back at 1.5-2x the speed while I’m studying for a test to catch anything I missed in class since a lot of information is covered in a short amount of time. Some professors will record their lectures and post them on Blackboard, and others I have to record for myself. Always be sure to ask your professor first before recording lectures, because some don’t want their lectures recorded.

The "Player" lets me speed up or slow down lectures from .5x to 2.5x the normal speed.
The “Player” lets me speed up or slow down lectures from .5x to 2.5x the normal speed.

My Biochemistry professor uploads each lecture as an mp3 to Blackboard after each class, so I’ll go and save the lecture, import into iTunes, and then download it to my iPhone. I have a playlist of “Biochem Lectures” so I can quickly and easily get to the lectures once in the app. I hit “Library”, then navigate to my “Biochem Lectures” playlist and select which lectures I want to add to my app playlist by tapping them and hitting “Add”. Now, the lectures are in my “Playlist” and I don’t have to add them again.

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The “Study” tab allows me to quickly fast forward and rewind.

Once in my “Playlist”, I click on the lecture that I want to listen to and the app opens up the “Player”. This is the best part of the app. I can speed up or slow down the playback by .05 increments so that parts that I know I understand and just want to review quickly I can speed through, and the parts I need to get more clarification on I can slow down to normal or .5 times the normal speed. SpeedUp also has a “Study” tab so I can easily go back 1 second or 3 seconds to catch something I missed, or go forward 3 seconds at a time if I went to far back. On the “Preferences” screen, all of the quick rewind/forward settings are adjustable to suite different people’s needs.

SpeedUp also has a pro version (which I haven’t bought) that features an integrated recorder and the ability to import files from other apps, like DropBox. It costs $2.99 in the App Store, if you really love the app.

Temple Run 2-Free in App Store

Every Temple Run 2 run begins by sliding down a rope.
Every Temple Run 2 run begins by sliding down a rope.

Temple Run 2 is my go-to game when I’m stressed out and need to unwind a bit. The basic idea is that I’m trying to run as far as I can without bumping into a wall, running off the edge, or getting burned by a fire. Along the way, I can collect coins in order to be able to buy new runners or new abilities (aka “powerups”), like shields, boost (makes me run super fast!), coin magnet, and coin bonus. I can also collect artifacts and gems, which allow me to accomplish challenges to gain points, or, in the case of gems, allow me to keep playing after I’ve died.

There are many different PowerUps available!
There are many different PowerUps available!

Temple Run 2 takes a few plays to get the hang of, but the developers are always improving and updating the app so that the runs stay fresh. Recently, I started a run, and I came to a river that I had to float down without hitting rocks or watermills. It was a new and interesting twist, and it’s made playing Temple Run 2 almost like a new game again!

Temple Run has several other apps, like the original (free), Temple Run: Brave ($1.99), and Temple Run: Oz ($1.99) that open up new challenges when I finally defeat Temple Run 2 (which is impossible, I think!).

These apps have really helped me out in my time at LMU. Check them out! Tell me in the comments what apps help you survive and thrive; I’m always on the lookout for ways to study more efficiently!

Don’t let this be you!
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Posted on February 25, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for all the tech advice. Where did you first learn about iStudiezPro? ;-))

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