Apps for the iPad

With thousands of iPad apps available on the App Store, it can be hard to decide which ones to download. The quality of each app can vary drastically since apps are made by individual developers, not by Apple. The cost of apps will vary, although many are free. Learning Technologies has explored some of the following apps and has found them to be of potential interest to the academic world:

Reference/Research Tools

Papers: An app that allows you to search, download, and organize millions of articles from several scholarly sources, including JSTOR, Google Scholar, and Web of Science, among others.

Instapaper: An app that allows you to save internet articles to your iPad for later use.

The World Factbook: An app that stores information from the CIA World Factbook so that the user can access it any time, regardless of internet connection.

iSSRN: An app from the Social Science Research Network in which the user can access over 260,000 social science papers written by those in the field.

OECD Factbook: This app, put together by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, offers an entire mobile factbook filled with statistics on categories such as Prices, Energy, Labour, Population and Migration, Education, among many others.

WolframAlpha: a reference app, largely focused on statistics and question-answering. Content and information on nearly every subject.

WorldCat Mobile: Can search any book/learning material in its database, find the libraries that have the book nearby, and how to cite the book in APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and Turabian format.

USA Factbook and Quiz: United States maps, important documents, president biographies, quizzes, individual state information, and more. Good study tool for basic US history.

Dictionary!: Basic dictionary application, very simple and easy.

TED: Streaming free lectures and speeches.

Document Creation and Management

iMovie: An app version of the popular video editing software. Ideal for light and straightforward editing tasks. Currently, the iMovie app is only compatible with the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and the 4th Generation iPod Touch.

Quickoffice Connect: An app that lets you access and edit Microsoft Office documents, as well as common attachment files (.PDF, .JPG, etc.).

Numbers/Keynote/Pages (iWork suite): Programs used for production, similar to Excel, Powerpoint, and Word from Microsoft Office. The iWork apps, however, offer a more simplistic view, and are able to more flexibly use media. Depending on the user's level of comfort with the on-screen keyboard, these apps may be more ideal for presentations than, say, an essay.

GoodReader: A document reader that works particularily well with heavy .PDF files. Also allows the user to download files from a url.

BlogPress: A single tool where one user can manage their multiple blogs.

Storyboards: Digital storyboard creation tool- allows the user to design a storyboard for their movie without having to draw it out. Ideal for any film/digital production classes.

iA Writer: this writing app is a great alternative to Pages, and most other writing apps available. This is a very simplistic document layout, and allows the user to focus on their writing. The biggest perk about this app is that it comes with a keyboard layout different from the standard iPad one, and allows the user an extra row of options.

Adobe Ideas: A basic, easy to use drawing app that allows you to create and email images.

General Learning, Organization and Note Taking Tools

iThoughts: A mind mapping tool that allows you to create thought webs, ideal for meetings and projects.

200 Great Books: 200 full-length "classics", available for free.

Outliner: A tool that allows the user to create and share outlines.

SoundNote: a note taking tool that records sound while you type or draw. Later, when you review your notes, you can go back and select a section of your notes. The audio that was recorded during this time will play back.

Penultimate: An app that allows you to hand write notes using the touch screen- very nice, as you have more freedom than typing on the screen keyboard (also takes less time).

iVocabulary: A language-learning study tool that gives the user access to over 2,000 files designed for foreign language vocabulary memorization. Languages available include Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and more. The app even keeps track of your progress!

gFlash+: Virtual flashcard sets you can download for just about anything, or make your own. Great study tool for visual learners.   

Evernote: An app that allows you to take notes through text, photograph, or recorded audio.

Conversation English: App for those studying English as a second language. Offers tips, an idiom dictionary, and quizzing tools for those looking to improve their conversational English.

myHomework: An organizational tool designed to help students keep track of their homework. Organizes assignments by name, class, type, and the date the assignment is due.

TAO: A translation tool that allows the user to translate over 30 different languages, with more to come. From the reviews, it seems to be the most accurate translator.

Math, Science and Nature Tools

Star Walk: an astronomy app that allows users to explore the sky through different tools, one in particular where you point your iPad at the stars, and the app can tell you what exactly you’re looking at.

BirdsEye Lite: an app for anyone with interest in birds or bird watching. Allows the user to find birds nearby, research birds, listen to the sounds of the species, and many other things.

Math Ref: a mathematical app that lists “over 1,400 helpful formulas, figures, tips and examples of the equations and concepts”. 

Solutions: a chemistry app that helps you calculate the molecular weight, molarity and volume of chemical solutions.

Geograph WA/OR: a geology and geography app for Washington and Oregon. The app is GPS-enabled and the map on display has 25 different layers.

The Chemical Touch Lite: An interactive periodic table of the elements.

Quick Graph: A basic graphing tool. Allows the user to punch in an equation and see it graphed. A great free alternative to any paid advanced calculator app, especially if all you need is the graphing function. 

News/Media Sources

SkyGrid: A great way to keep track of news stories that are of interest to the user. This app allows the user to "follow interests", rather than add entire sites to their news feed. Whenever there is news about the interest the user has chosen to follow, they will be notified.

Chances are, if you get your news from a mainstream media source (and possibly some unconventional sources), they probably make an iPad app. NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Weather Channel, The New York Times, and BBC News are just a handful of media organizations that offer an iPad app. - Cost varies, keep in mind that some news sources may require a subscription, despite the app itself being free.


m.UW: University of Washington app that provides news, maps, course listings, and other information relevant to UW students. More applicable to students on the Seattle campus, but information about the Bothell and Tacoma campuses are given as well. 

BlackBoard Mobile Learn: A mobile version of the commonly-used courseware. Good to do basic functions like checking BlackBoard or using the discussion board. However, for more advanced functions (uploading assignments, downloading readings, managing classes, etc.), we recommend using the full computer version.


Print Magic HD: a printing tool that allows you to wirelessly print directly from your iPad.

Split Screen: an app that allows the user to open two browser windows at once, makes it feel more like a desktop in that they may browse back and forth.

Dropbox: this app allows you to access your Dropbox files from your Apple device.

Additional Information:

Since apps are always being updated and changed and sometimes discontinued, the list can become dated very quickly. Please let us know of any inaccuracies or errors by e-mailing us at uwblt@uw.edu. Also feel free to let us know of any apps which you have found useful as well.