Apple’s core iOS apps are good enough for what they are intended for but there are much better apps out there that can improve your iPhone or iPad experience. A lot of them are free and the others are worth the price tag. Here I will offer a list and short review of each.
Yahoo! Weather – A gorgeous and elegant app with much more info such as hourly and five day forecast, radar map, wind & pressure, precipitation, sunrise & sundown times, and moon info all with beautiful background pics from Flickr – Free for iPhone
Calendars by Readdle – A free alternative for both the iPhone and iPad. I love that you can swipe between each month instead of hitting left or right arrow buttons. Also, instead of seeing colored dots where you have appointments you can actually read them in the month-view calendar. Much better especially when you want to quickly glance at what you have going on. – Free for iPhone and iPad.
Unfortunately my favorite simple calculator, Operations, is no longer available for the iPad. Although, if you’ve downloaded it before it was removed from the App Store, you can still download it by clicking on the “Purchased” tab. Unfortunately, if you haven’t you’re out of luck. However, in my research to find a valid replacement of a free and ad-free simple calculator I stumbled upon MyScript Calculator. All other simple calculators were not ad-free or had to be paid for so this is my next recommendation. It’s different but I actually like how it works. There are no buttons like standard calculator apps. Instead you write your operation with your finger or stylus. MyScript effortlessly translates your handwriting and quickly calculates it right before your eyes.
MyScript supports the basic operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – as well as exponents, square roots, percentages, absolute values, trigonometry, constants (pi, e, phi…), logarithms, (quantities), and factorials! 😉 I tried to do cubed roots but it wouldn’t register correctly. I even tried raising a number to the 1/3 power to see if that would work but it didn’t. So there are improvements that can be made. Hopefully there will be an update for this. Therefore this is more than a simple calculator and is almost capable of being called a scientific calculator. However, for most calculations this app certainly does the trick.
Clear aims to make your experience of completing tasks as pleasurable as possible. With gesture commands it is a breeze to create, edit, and cross off tasks from your to-do list. Pull down to add a new task, swipe to the right to mark it completed, and long-press and drag up or down to move a task around based on priority. Because of how simple it is to use you will find yourself putting everything that comes to mind that you need to get done. I’ve tried many other to-do list apps, both free and paid, and the one thing I just couldn’t get over was the fact that it felt like a task in itself just to create a to-do list. Clear takes that pain away. No due dates to set, no sharing options, or other settings that become distracting. This is simple and straight-forward. Make your list, get your work done, then cross it off. That’s it.
I’ve been using this app for over a year now and I have to say it is one of my most used apps. I use it daily for both work and personal life and I definitely get a lot more things done. There are also several color themes to choose from and as you can see from the above screenshot Clear uses the idea of a heat index to show priority.
Haiku Deck is a very friendly and easy to use iPad app that helps you to create beautiful presentations. It is so smooth and easy use that creating presentations actually becomes a joy.
It allows for just two lines of text per slide and as you type the text size changes so that it is always filling the slide horizontally. The idea is that the viewer shouldn’t be reading long paragraphs. It should be short and easy to read while the speaker still delivers the main content.
I finally found a Microsoft Office app that is actually free! There is no doubt that Quickoffice Pro and Documents To Go are excellent apps in their own regards but as I’ve mentioned before if another app is free, ad-free, and proficient enough for classroom use then it will have to be the go-to app. Paid apps may usually be superior but the cost times the number of student iPads for a classroom can outweigh the benefit. Quickoffice Pro is $19.99 and Documents To Go Premium is $16.99. Times that by a classroom size of anywhere between 10 to 25 students and you can already feel that a free app is sounding like the wise choice. Especially when that money can be used for other educational or productivity apps. So the search continues to find such an app. Enter OnLive Desktop.
If students are going to use iPads in the classroom then learning about cloud storage is an inevitability. That being said, most teachers are also going to need training on this topic. I would even recommend a professional development training just to get teachers familiar with it. By no means do I mean to imply that it is difficult to use – it is quite the opposite actually. A quick description of cloud storage is that you can upload your files (documents, pictures, etc.) to a server and be able to access them later through multiple devices such as a home computer, smartphone, iPad, laptop, or other computing devices. So if you’re typing a word document on your work computer, you can save it to your cloud storage (such as Dropbox) and you will be able to immediately access it from one of your other devices such as your come computer, iPad, or home computer. No longer will you need to keep emailing yourself your resume every time you make an edit. Here is a video that really breaks it down.
I find it odd that the iPad, clearly one of the most revolutionary computing devices in the consumer market, does not even come with a calculator. The iPhone has a simple calculator when held normally but when held in landscape position stretches to reveal more buttons and becomes a scientific calculator. So clearly Apple understands the need for a calculator. Apple also clearly wants iPads to be used in the classroom so it’s mind-boggling that they left the calculator app out.
The iPhone Calculator:
Well, for whatever the reason, there really is no sense in trying to make sense of it all and if and when they ever do make one then it will be welcomed with open arms by everyone I’m sure but until then we’ll just have to sort through the calculator apps in the App Store. So here are my findings for the best free calculator apps. I stress free because there are good free calculator apps and school budgets need not waste money purchasing calculator apps when that money can go towards other more useful educational apps. I also am quick to disregard any apps that have ads in them so even though there are other free calculator apps that are great, possibly even better, when it comes to ads they can be so distracting and something as simple as that can lose the students’ focus on the task at hand so any apps mentioned here are also ad-free =)