Going back to school after an endless summer holiday is harder than the Einstein solid, but your iPhone can help make term time easier.
September is tough: schools, colleges and universities throw open their gates once more. You have to get up early and try to look interested. Don’t make it harder than it has to be this time round.
Start your day right with a favourite song gently easing you back into the civilised world.
Setting a song as your alarm is really simple. From your homescreen visit Clock > Alarm then hit the plus “+” button and add timings. Next tap Sound. It’ll already be on the admittedly upbeat “Opening” but scroll on.
Your iPhone might already have a few of your most-played tracks but just tap Pick A Song and choose from your music library otherwise.
A word of warning: Your favourite song might not stay in top spot once it has bad associations with getting up early. Heavy or aggressive tracks aren’t advisable either: they will not seem so great when they’re beating into your brain at 6am.
How about an orchestral number that starts gently and builds so it’ll gradually rouse you from a deep dream? Failing this there’s an app that wakes you when you’re in your lightest sleeping phase if that’s the sort of thing that worries you.
Alternatively, natural sunlight streaming through your blinds is a lovely way to wake, but sometimes, you’ve got to wake up at an uncivilised hour when even the sun is under its duvet. Perhaps the worst school mornings are in the winter: it’s still dark even when you’re going out the front door. Turn your alarm into a flashlight, hit up Settings > General > Accessibility > LED Flash for Alerts.
And angle your phone accordingly!
You’ll need to undo it each morning and set it back up each night or it’ll going off all day – but it’ll see you through the cold mornings well. The flashlight will also activate for calls and texts, but using Do Not Disturb (accessible through Settings) will leave some downtime whilst letting emergency calls get through to you.
Loud Alarm (Free, in-app purchases)
Naturally, there are plenty more alarm clocks available, including ones to stimulate your mind as you wake – but if you’re a deep sleeper, Loud Alarm is specifically designed for you.
It does exactly what it says on the tin… although how loud it gets is obviously dictated by the volume controls! There’s not a huge range of noises, but there doesn’t really need to be: all are very effective, tapping into the things that we’re always alert for. ‘Car Alarm’ is troubling. ‘Danger’ induces mild panic. ‘Emergency’ is pretty terrifying.
Of course, family members who sleep in the next room won’t thank you when they rush out to their car, thinking someone is breaking into it! If you really want upgrades – including further sounds and snooze functions – they’re 99c.
Classes & Homework
For a little while, you’ll probably find it hard to remember exactly which lessons you have each day. Your best bet is utilising Reminders.
Use Remind me on a day then alter the date, time and regularity, the latter through Repeat. And if you tend to forget your room numbers, you can add further information at the bottom, under Notes. If that’s not your cup of tea, however…
Schedule Planner ($6.99, free version)
This app is incredibly simple to use – but does come with seemingly-endless instructions. If you’re accustomed to iOS, it’s best to just skip through those and find your own way around.
Inputting data is pretty much the same as Reminders (you can add further notes as well as categories so you can separate home, work and play), but Schedule Planner revolves around its calendar. On top of that, it makes charts to show you which part of life you’re missing out on!
The free app will be more than enough for most, but if you want it to work in synch with Google Calendar or iCal, the Pro version is available for just $6.99.
myHomework (free download, $4.99 per year)
Keeping track of your classes and assignments is always a hassle, but myHomework is a handly little app that reminds you of coursework, exams and presentations.
It’s really simple to use: insert due dates for projects throughout the academic year and they will show up in notifications the day before anything is due. Yes, that is a little late to knock out a 3,000 word essay or a 10,000 word dissertation, but if you get into the routine of checking myHomework at the same time every day, this shouldn’t be a problem.
You can also note down your syllabus so you never forget a class (which used to be a recurring nightmare of mine).
Most will be content with the free version, but Premium lets you upload files similar to iCloud or Dropbox, and bulk purchases for academic centres will post announcements and links to students. Furthermore, if your tutor is on Teachers.io, the two collaborate, meaning that files and class notes can easily be shared.
myHomework is available for the majority of devices including Android, Windows 8 and Chrome.
iPhone In The Classroom
Oh no. It’s maths, and you’ve forgotten your calculator, just like ten other people in the class. Instead of fighting over the three spare ones your tutor has knocking around, ask him or her if you can use the scientific calculator on your iPhone.
You might not have realised it but your Calculator app becomes far more powerful when you turn your phone horizontally (and disengage orientation lock, of course). That allows you access to further functions for working out square roots, circumfrences and calculations involving pi.
I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to use your phone in tests, however, and you probably shouldn’t rely on it (or start sending messages to your friends).
Doc Scan HD (Free; Pro: $3.99)
This is one of the handiest apps in and outside of the classroom.
Once more, the simplest ideas are the best: Doc Scan HD accesses your camera and takes a photo of any document. You can then crop, tamper with lighting and contrast then email it as either a .jpeg image or PDF (and can now collaborate with Dropbox).
It means that you don’t have to worry about losing important notes and saves tonnes of space. If you work best with online files, you can simply throw those reams of paper notes into the recycling. Similarly, you might want back-up files. Doc Scan HD makes it easy to store excessive pages on your computer or print them off.
What’s more, you can even highlight parts of a text and make annotations! Don’t forget to check out our other favourite scanning apps for iOS, Android and more.
You can utilise all sorts of services for educational purpose, including note-takers like INKredible and the ubiquitous note taking app Evernote. There are further apps for your iPad that will help you when citing sources, taking dictation or wondering how to spell onomatopoeia.
Frankly, anything to make school or college easier is good by us.
What apps do you use to help you with school work? Does your school embrace technology like you do?
Image credits: School table Via Shutterstock, Doc Scan HD images of Doctor Who: Regenerations Sticker Album from Topps; Kill Or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker.