7 essential Android apps for college students

So you (or your child) are going off to college this fall? Don’t forget to pack a toothbrush, some extra-long sheets, a great laptop, and all the important tech gear. These essential apps for your Android phone will help keep you organized, productive, awake, and ready to tackle the challenges of higher education — and maybe even have a bit of fun along the way!

1. Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus for Android


Download: Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus

A good dictionary and thesaurus used to be a standard fixture on every dorm room desk. While their utility hasn’t changed, their form has! With this app, you can carry around a full dictionary and thesaurus on your phone. More than 200,000 dictionary entries and definitions and more than 300,000 synonyms are included, and you can search online or download the dictionary directly to your mobile device.

2. Virt U: The Virtual University


Download:Virt U

This app lets you download and watch lectures from universities such as MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and Stanford right on your phone for free. Whether you’re looking to complement your existing courses or brush up on other subjects that interest you, you’re sure to find something among the hundreds of lecture videos available for both online and offline viewing. Connect with friends and post favorite lectures to Facebook, and join in discussion on Virt U’s forums.

3. Droid Scan

Free for Lite, $7.49 for Pro

Download:Droid Scan Lite, Droid Scan Pro

Not everyone has completely converted their lives (or classes) to a digital format yet, which is why Droid Scan is such a valuable app. It allows you to use your phone’s camera as a scanner, turning photos of documents into high-resolution documents you can then open on your computer, save, organize, or share. We certainly wouldn’t recommend skipping class and then just scanning your friend’s notes, but this app could be helpful for taking photos of whiteboards, handouts, or even the menu of your favorite takeout place. Droid Scan Lite allows you to save files as .jpegs; the expanded Pro version gives you more file formats and better scan quality.

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4. Evernote



We’re pretty big fans of Evernote here at Tecca. This great note-taking app works in conjunction with a Web app and the desktop program, syncing your notes between all three. You can type notes, take photos, record voice memos, and create to-do lists that are easy to find on all of your devices. The Evernote app is free, as is a basic account, or you can upgrade to a pro account with extra features for $5 per month or $45 per year.

5. Studious


Download: Studious

There once was a time when students kept their class and homework schedules in physical notebooks, but those days are long gone. Studious does it all for you, right on your phone. When you put in your class schedule, it automatically silences your device during class time and reminds you of upcoming homework and tests. Save text notes and photos so you don’t miss a thing.

6. GrubHub



Everyone’s gotta eat, and sometimes you just don’t have time to take a trip to the student union cafeteria. GrubHub makes it almost ridiculously easy to order food for delivery right to your door! Using GrubHub’s database of more than 25,000 restaurants in more than 300 cities around the country, you can browse menus and read restaurant reviews, recall past orders, and save multiple addresses for quick access, then place your order right from your phone.

7. Alarm Clock Xtreme


Download:Alarm Clock Xtreme

Don’t sleep through your most important classes! Snooze button mashers and gradual awakeners, rejoice — there’s an alarm clock app for you. Alarm Clock Xtreme works for everyone, no matter what your sleeping and waking habits might be. You can set it to wake you up gently and gradually, set a variable snooze duration, and even set it to require you solve math problems before it will turn off the alarm. The app also features a countdown timer and lets you set reminder alarms for events throughout the day.

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Got Android Jelly Bean? No NBC Olympics for you!

UPDATED 07/25/2012 0946 EST: Google appears to have resolved the Olympics application issues with Google Play on the Nexus 7 as of very early this morning.


So tonight, I was lying down on my cushy new Serta iSeries gel mattress on the floor of my bedroom in my new Florida home basking in the bohemian laziness that is “no bedroom furniture yet”.

I was bored, so I grabbed both of my two tablets, my iPad 3 and my barely-scratched Nexus 7.

Despite my current mental state of enduring 97 degree heat with 120 percent humidity that was clearly reducing the network efficiency of my synaptic pathways, I was aware that the summer Olympics was soon to begin, so I figured I’d check out and see what cool new apps existed.

Well, it turns out that NBC does have some cool new apps for the Olympic games. 

Two in fact.

The first is an event summary/scoring/news/medal count application, which has some neat social networking integration stuff, and the second, called the “Live Extra” allows you to view live video feeds of all of the events provided you have some form of subscription TV service.

And yes, both apps exist on iOS and Android. How’d they do that? Well, as it turns out, they are both written using Adobe’s cross-platform toolkit that allows you to take Flash code and compile it natively on either iOS or Android.

Cool, huh?

So I installed the iPad version from the App Store first. Runs, no problem. No content yet, but things aren’t heating up until the 27th.

Next, I whip out the Nexus 7. I search for “Olympics” in Google Play. All I get back are third party results, not the NBC apps. Wha?

I opened up Chrome and searched for “Android olympics apps” and it directed me to NBC’s landing page, which in turn fires up links to the Google Play store for the Live Extra and regular mobile apps.

And what happened? The Google Play screen for the NBC apps say “This application is incompatible with your hardware.”

Wait, what? This is Google’s flagship product and operating system! Why the heck wouldn’t it work? And why are they filtering the results out on the Nexus 7?

Sure enough, I tried it on my wife’s Droid Bionic running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Works fine. Tried it on my Ice Cream Sandwich-based Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Works fine.

Well, it turns out… That if you have a Jelly Bean-based device, you’re probably screwed. The reason for this is that Flash isn’t supported on Jelly Bean within the browser or via the dedicated player application, whatsoever.

UPDATE: I am awaiting confirmation from Adobe that this problem is actually a DRM/Content rights issue, not Flash-Related.

Of course, this is the direct fallout from Adobe ceasing development on Mobile Flash, which I broke the story on last year. 

Now, I’m not entirely sure why this manifests itself on natively compiled Android apps. I would think that the NBC stuff would run within the NDK, but perhaps a veteran Android developer can explain this better to me.

After all, if you can cross-compile the code to run on an iOS device, which has very serious restrictions about running Flash code at all, then what’s the issue?

All I know is that I’m a Nexus 7 user and I’m left out — and so is everyone who bought a GSM Galaxy Nexus and got their Jelly Bean update, as far as I can tell, unless someone has a creative hackerish solution.

UPDATE: I’ve recieved reports that the Galaxy Nexus GSM updated to Jelly Bean can run the Olympics apps, but the Nexus 7 and other various phones running AOSP ROMs cannot.

Did Google screw up by leaving legacy Mobile Flash support out of Jelly Bean? Talk Back and Let Me Know.