Tag Archives: apps

my favourite ipad apps for school, entertainment, and productivity!

16 Jan

So you got an iPad for Christmas. Or maybe you decided to buy one on a whim because it was shiny and is oh so fancy. Or maybe you got one so you can read or watch stuff in bed lying down (so useful, really!).

I’ve had my iPad 2 for nearly 10 months now and I use it everyday and love it just as much as I did when they announced it. I admit that I made fun of it when the original iPad was announced. It looks like a big iPhone. Why would anyone ever buy it? And then I played with it in store and saw the potential. This is cool. It’s light. It’s fast.

Wondering how to use your iPad? This is how I use mine.

  • Taking notes in class
  • Recording lectures (sometimes if I feel like I’m gonna fall asleep)
  • Web browsing on the sofa, in bed, at school, hotels, hostels – wherever I have a Wifi connection or feel like connecting it to my iPhone
  • Reading digital magazines, books, articles, and newspapers
  • Watching TV at the dinner table where the actual TV is out of sight
  • Editing photos uploaded directly from the memory card
  • Facebook…

To name a few.

The purpose of this blog is to showcase some of the apps I use on my iPad which I’ve found to be really useful and am quite fond of. I’ve broken down the apps into categories and have only included some of my favourite apps with links to the iTunes store in the app title or links to relevant blog posts in the descriptions.


  • UPAD– $4.99 (trial version available for free “UPAD Lite”)
    • This is my favourite school app. I use it for pretty much everything. I can take notes on it with my stylus or type them out if I want to as well. You can mark up PDFs using the stylus (or alternatively your finger) by just writing on top of it. Backup and restore is available and you can export the marked up documents to PDF, email and Dropbox as well as Google Docs. Once in a while, something I wrote on an earlier page will show up on a page later and I haven’t quite figured out why but it’s rare. I use this to read PDFs as well because I can mark it up however I want unlike GoodReader where highlighting can be a pain.
  • Notability– $.99 (price fluctuates often)
    • I recently started using this one again because I forgot my stylus at home and needed to take notes. This program is great for regular typing of notes. I can arrange my notes into subjects and type away. Another  really cool feature of this app is you can record the lecture while typing and when you playback, you can actually select text and the recording will skip to the section and play what you heard while writing that exact line. Pretty cool, right?
  • Quickoffice (for now) – $19.99 (can probably be found for a cheaper price because price changes every few weeks). Also available for iPhone but I don’t see why you would buy it.
    • A basic wordprocessing program for the iPad. I opted to not buy pages, numbers or keynote because of the price and value pack savings of the Quickoffice suite. I actually do not use it very much and when I have it’s ok. I’ve only put it on this list because it’s the only word processing program I have. This might change in the next week or so when a new app is released on the App Store which I describe when I have a chance to play around with it.


  • AppStart– Free
    • I highly recommend this app for new iPad owners. There is a lot of information about using your iPad and a lot of suggested apps (similar to this post but way more exhaustive).
  • AppShopper– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • I wrote a post about this a couple months ago so I will just link to it here. I use it for price comparisons, price watches  and app price activity. *Edit: Just realized I did not include the link. Link now included!
  • Flipboard– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • I love this app! I use it to read my daily blogs and articles online. There are a ton of suggested reads which collate articles from different sites as well as single sites.

Entertainment (Games, Photos and Videos)

  • Ticket to Ride– $6.99. Pocket version available for iPhone at a much cheaper price.
    • This is a fun multiplayer game. The original board game is very popular and the iPad version is easier to play because it keeps track of your points and scoring. My friend and I played this game often when we were killing time travelling on our Europe vacation. On a train playing Ticket to Ride (Europe version).
  • Snapseed– $4.99 but is offered for free once in a while. Use Appshopper to get notifications when it goes on for free! Also available for iPhone. Android version is on its way in the near future.
    • Love this app for photo editing! I haven’t touched Photoshop or anything other basic editing software since. It has a lot of really cool features that turn blah photos into really nice ones. You can do basic editing as well as applying filters like vintage, “drama”, tilt and shift (make things look mini) and more.
  • Netflix– Free. Available for iPhone and Android.
    • Great if you have a Netflix account already. Also, check out the Hotspot shield post I wrote to gain access to the American Netflix with more videos.
  • Grooveshark Mobile– Free. Can be used on any smartphone!
    • While not a true app, it is a web app that plays pretty much any song you want. Want to listen to a song? Search it on the site and enjoy!
  • Zinio– Free. Also available for iPhone and Android.
    • I’ve written about this one in the past because it’s pretty cool. You can read magazines using this app and they often have sales on magazine subscriptions. If you sign up now (I think the promo ends in May), you can get $25 credit towards magazine subscriptions. Try a magazine you’ve always wanted to but didn’t want to pay for it. See this post here for detailed instructions on acquiring the credit via Zinio.


  • Dropbox– Free. Also available for iPhone and Android.
    • Cloud based storage. You get 2GB free when you sign up and can get more by doing small “tasks” on the site. I use this everyday for schoolwork. It’s great for class lectures when I have to download the lectures from Vista on my laptop. I keep all of my school document on it as well so I can work on it when I’m on my laptop, on my iPad or at the computers at school. Also, if you want to sign up for it, click here. If you use this link, I get 250mb more space and so do you!
  • Talkatone– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • Somehow my Google Voice was activated and I’ve had free US and Canada calling through Google for the past couple of years. You can link your Voice account to Talkatone and call for free to the US and Canada as long as you have wifi (or data if you want to use it…). We called home several times when traveling in Europe using this app for free!

check app sale activity before buying

9 Nov

Building upon the message from yesterday’s blog, I hate it when I buy stuff only to have it go on sale a couple of days later (with no price adjustment!) or find it cheaper somewhere else. The same is true with apps where some of them switch between “regular” and sale price every other day. Most normal people don’t have the patience to track an app’s sale activity every day to make sure they are getting the best price but of course, there’s an app for that.

I use Appshopper for monitoring sale activity on the Appstore and while there are probably other apps that filter better, it’s been sufficient for my purposes. You can browse through “popular” price drops and free apps and filter for specific categories.

The feature that I like about the app is the ability to search for an app and get a detailed sale activity for that particular app. This is useful when you have a specific app in mind and are considering buying it.  In this example, I searched for Splashtop Remote Browser (I’ll be posting on this at some point) and was given the Appstore general information and at the bottom of the page, I was given a summary of app activity. Note, this is one of the apps that changes its price every other day and blatantly lies in the general information that the “regular” price is $19.99 and is on sale for a “limited time.” If you notice in the screenshot below, it hasn’t been that price for a long time. I clicked on “All activity for this app” and the last time it was $19.99 was September 26, 2010. I’d hardly call that its regular price, but I digress. Regardless of its dishonest marketing, I actually quite like the app and picked it up at its lowest price point of $1.99 (a whopping 90% off!!!!)

So before you buy that app, check it’s price activity and see if waiting a couple of days or weeks (if it’s an expensive one like Quickoffice) will have financial benefits even if it’s just $.99

P.S. The Oatmeal created a pretty funny and accurate comic on how people feel about buying apps.

he’s so fluffy, i’m gonna die!

31 Oct

Did you know that you can purchase new text tones from the iTunes store on your iPhone? I think you can only do this on iOS5 though but if you are on iOS4, leave a comment if you can buy new tones as well.

What I’m talking about are the sound alerts you get when you receive an email, text message, calendar, etc. The stock tones are kind of boring and I discovered that you can actually buy text tones as well for your phone.

I really liked the movie Despicable Me because of Agnes and the famous line “He’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!” So cute. If you haven’t seen Despicable Me, see the video below.

You can also do a search for quotes or sounds and you might get lucky. Over the weekend, my cousins and I were thinking of funny tones and the Goonie’s “HEYYYY YOU GUYSSS” came up. We did a search and you could also buy that tone on the Store as well. There are also a lot of Star War tones available.

Most of the tones cost $.99 and some cost $1.29. Yes, I know you can probably find these for free somewhere but it was just easier to buy the tone since it downloads directly to your phone rather than having to sync it to your iTunes and then transfer it. I’ve had issues with the Ringtones app anyways.


To access the text tones store, go to Settings > Sounds > Text Tone. At the top you should see a button for “Buy more tones.” You will  redirected to the tones store where you can also buy ringtones as well.

free and practical apps for android

3 Oct

Last September, I finally decided to upgrade my “dumb” phone to a “smart” phone. I think it’s safe to say that there are 3 different types of phones out there that form the large part of the smartphone market – Android, Blackberry and iPhone. I didn’t want a Blackberry because there aren’t as many apps (not that I use a ton anyways) and I don’t like the idea of people knowing when you read their messages! So Blackberry was a no. Everyone has an iPhone so I didn’t want that, although, I wish I had one now because my phone is a piece.

So I went with the Android OS, specifically in the Motorola Flipout offered through Rogers. It is running 2.1 and Motorola has said they will never update it. Thanks. The only thing I like about it is the fact that it is a unique phone and pretty much everyone I meet asks “Is that your phone? It’s so cool looking” and then I always reply “Yeah, it looks cool but it so slow and I wish I had an iPhone…”Here’s a picture of my phone / GPS as some people like to call it:

While I like the customizability of Android phones, I prefer apps from the App Store and the simplicity of the iPhone. I am waiting for the announcement (tomorrow!) and release of a new iPhone but until then, I would like to share some of the Android apps that I’ve found particularly useful  until I complete my collection of Apple products.


Note: I don’t really play games on my phone so most of the apps are very practical. Examples of my practicality include asking for a Barbie alarm clock when I was 7, buying my boyfriend towels and asking for a vacuum when I was 19 for Christmas.

ANYWAYS, several of my favourite apps in no special order:

1. APNdroid, Free: Let’s you turn on/off your 3G. Useful for when you want to conserve battery life or if you want to make sure your data does not turn mysteriously while in the USA.

2. Last Call Widget, Free: I don’t know about your phones, but mine didn’t come with a tool to view your last calls or who you last called as a widget on your home screen. I like to have a button that shows me this information.

3. Google Maps, Free: I am pretty sure everyone’s phone has Google Maps already but it is seriously my favourite app. I use it daily to check bus schedules. Just zoom into the bus stop you want and you should see a little bus symbol. Click on that and you should get a listing of the upcoming bus schedules. Beats having to call your friend and asking for the schedule or texting 33333 with the # of the bus stop you do not know (Translink in Vancouver).

4. SilentSnap, Free: Even though the camera on my phone is 3.1 megapixels, sometimes I need to take a photo with it. When using the stock camera app, I get a loud click when I take the picture. With SilentSnap, I can take a picture without the clicking noise. You will have to use the app to take photos, it won’t do anything if you continue using the stock app.

5. Watchdog, Free: Watches your 3G usage. I use the widget so I can see it on my homescreen. I rarely go over 125mb a month which is good I guess but I am paying for 500mb so I don’t bother using my wi-fi near the end of the month to get my money’s worth!

6. Juice Defender, Free: My phone has a terrible battery life. It used to die halfway during the day which is a pain. I don’t know what we did before we had cell phones… Anyways, Juice Defender optimizes your battery life by having it monitor certain settings. It can automatically enable and disable 3G, allow background syncing for emails at different frequencies rather than having it on all of the time, and a bunch of other things. I only have the free version but the Pro version has a lot more to offer. On the app it says that the Plus version is .99 and the Ultimate version is 3.49 in “EUR/USD.” Not sure how that works but it might be an app worth buying.

Other popular apps include: Handcent, Dolphin Browser, Google Plus, Ringdroid, and Smooth Calendar.

I’ve never bought an app for my phone but I am more than willing to by apps for my iPad. I think it’s clear which platform I prefer!