Tag Archives: iPads

My Favorite Apps: Top Three for Keeping Up

March 15, 2012

This post is Part 2 in a series of My Favorite Apps. Here’s what you might have missed:

There are thousands of apps out there that will allow the iPad to be used in many, many ways. I have to say that in my house, unless I’m going to be formatting a research paper or something of that nature, it is the device I pick up the most. At work, it is my go-to device for when I’m traveling from school to school and want something quick and light-weight to carry around to take notes, check emails, do web browsing, and more. As I mentioned before, right now in my district administrators can purchase iPads for their use and we are now accepting applications for a student pilot of iPads in the classroom. Since administrators are the ones who have iPads in hand right now, I’m still keeping my focus on apps for them and teachers.

Don’t judge me for the US Weekly and Disney feeds!

So today, I’d like to share my favorite apps for taking in content. By content, I mean the apps I use to keep up with the blogs I read, news, current trends, and a little social media.

My first love for this is Flipboard. The first great thing about Flipboard? It’s free. So what does it do? Well according to the makers of the app, it’s a social magazine. Great, but what does that mean? Basically, you tell it what content you are interested in, and it pulls that specific content into a visually appealing magazine like format. All in one place. So no more going to twitter to read tweets, google reader to reed feeds, specific news sites to read the news. Everything is all there in one place. For those of you who are thinking, well I do that already with RSS feeds in a reader, well I did too! The reason I like Flipboard so much for this is because it displays the content in a more visual format, kind of like a magazine. You can see in the screenshot of a page of my Flipboard screen, I have a mixture of blogs, bundled folders from my Google Reader, magazines, and twitter hashtag searches all feeding into Flipboard. And I can turn the pages by swiping my finger. Also, I can easily share anything I find interesting by tweeting or Facebook-ing it, or I can send links via email. Pretty cool right? I think so too.

A second app that I really like is Zite. Instead of pulling your specific feeds into the app, you pick out sections from categories such as Technology, Education, Social Media, Pets, and more. You can also enter your own keywords to create sections. You can also connect to your accounts such as Google Reader, Facebook, and more. Zite pulls in stories, and you can “like” them, kind of like you like songs on Pandora or rate movies on Netflix. The app uses your preferences to send you more stories. It’s a great way to get information and see articles you know you’ll be interested in. And of course you can also share what you’re reading with the click of a button finger. Be careful…this app by default does make a whistle noise when it shares…it drives my dogs crazy every time!

And finally, even though I do love Flipboard for getting my read fixes in a visual way, I can’t not give props (is that still a saying?) to the Hootsuite App. I first started using this one more than Tweetdeck at the urging of Jason Mammano over at Have Technology Will Travel, all because he loved the little owl that pops up when you send a tweet. Seriously though, I think it is great for many reasons. You can add multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, add hashtag searches to your streams, see all your direct messages, mentions, retweets, and more. You can also view analytics from this app, and follow people straight from the app. The other clincher for me is that if I’m not using my iPad, I can log-in from the web and everything is all synched together. For some reason there were times when my Tweetdeck columns weren’t synched between devices, which gave Hootsuite the advantage for me. Also great was the one time last summer when I tweeted a question to @hootsuite about an issue I was having, they replied back in less than 5 minutes. The free Hootsuite app and site both have a few ads, but I barely notice them.

So those are the apps I use to keep up with content- what are your favorites?

My Favorite Apps: Top Two for Notes

February 29, 2012

You can’t go anywhere without hearing about iPads…they’re all the rage at conferences, in some school districts, and more. Even when I go out to eat, you see kids (and adults) playing with their iPads at the table. Now I’m not here to judge whether or not that’s okay (especially since I may have been guilty of pulling mine out once or twice), but what I would like to do is share some of my favorite apps. There are apps for everything it seems, and app lists aren’t hard to come by at all. Sometimes it can even be a little overwhelming because there are SO MANY great apps out there. In our district, right now it is approved for administrators to purchase iPads, and we are in the beginning stages of running an iPad Pilot for students. I can’t wait to share my favorite apps for student use, but in this post I’m going to stick with top 2 apps that have been invaluable to me at work and as a doctoral student for note-taking and organization.

PaperPort Notes (formerly Noterize)

An app that I first fell in love with last year when I first purchased my iPad (thank you Uncle Sam for that tax refund!) was Noterize. It was described as a “digital note taking tool,” which doesn’t even begin to tell you about the magic you could make happen with this app. Unfortunately, my favorite app became unavailable for a while, but now you can grab it by it’s new name- PaperPort Notes. So what’s so magical about this app? Well- you can create notes, obviously. And on those notes, you can add “sticky notes” or annotate using a pen and highlighter tool. Pair this app with a stylus and it’s like having that legal pad to carry around with you everywhere. But what I use it for the most is annotating over pdf files. I can import my pdf files from several services such as Dropbox and Google. I could also choose to use Paperport to open the pdf when I first open it on the iPad. Then, I can use the same sticky note, pen, or highlighter tool to annotate on that pdf. When I’m done, I can choose to share it by email, or export it out to Evernote, Google, or Dropbox. And have I mentioned that it also uses Dragon Dictation’s voice recording technology so I can talk instead of text if needed? Amazing. My favorite organizational, I need to do work App. I use it to store and annotate over research articles, mark up pdf checklists when I don’t have access to wireless, and more.


An app that is coming in to a very close 2nd place for me is Evernote. I admit that when I first tried it a couple of years ago, I was not impressed and I just didn’t “get it.” But a colleague recently shared some conference swag with me- and in that swag was a free premium month at Evernote. I rarely turn down free, so I of course went through the pain of remembering my login and vowed to give it another shot. Wow. That was my first thought, and my second, and my third…Before we even talk about the many features of the app, a big plus for me is that not only is the App great, but everything synchs to the Evernote website, meaning that even if I don’t have my iPad with me (blasphemy!) I have access to my content. From this app, which you can see in the App Store here, I can view and create Notebooks, and then create Notes inside of those. Here’s a pic of my Notebooks. On the left side, you can see a list of the notes that I have saved in this notebook. On the right, a larger preview of the Note I was looking at. Those notes with the nice bulleted list and the link you see there? All typed straight from the iPad. Oh, and that audio player you see? Did I mention that you can also record from the app as you are taking notes? Yep. Magical. And I can also add images, either using the iPad camera or from my Camera Roll directly into the Note.
Once I’ve created a note, if I wish to share it, Evernote will let me add specific people to the note (or Notebook) or give me a public link. Awesomeness. And honestly…the free version is just as good, you just don’t have quite as big of an upload limit.

So although there are many many more apps I’d love to share, i’m going to save those for later posts as I think I’ve rambled enough for today!
What are your favorite note-taking or organization apps? Let me know in the comments.