There are many apps for smartphones, electronic tablets and other gadgets that can give your child an edge at school, as well as with his or her extracurriculars and social life. Here are some of the best apps for students:
--2011 World Factbook (99 cents): Provides a wealth of information, including the geography and economy on over 250 countries across the globe.
--Dictionary.com (free): Allows the student to access nearly 1 million words and definitions, as well as more than 90,000 synonyms and antonyms. It gives word origins and history and phonetic and audio pronunciations. The app, voted best app for college students by U.S. News & World Report, also provides voice-to-text searching.
--Evernote (free): One of the hottest apps right now, Evernote allows notes to be recorded in text, voice, video and photo form. Notes can be organized by date and automatically synced to a computer.
--Flashcard Touch ($4.99): It's often suggested as a tool for creating your own flashcards -- without having to write out index cards -- for tests in any subject.
--Free Spanish Essentials by AccelaStudy (free): Provides Spanish lessons through a dictionary, flashcards, quizzes and a built-in translator to translate any word, phrase or sentence.
--GoodReader ($4.99): The second-best-selling iPad app in the U.S. in 2010 (with a version for iPhone, as well) allows you to view virtually anything anywhere -- books, movies, photos, maps and more. It handles large files with great speed compared with other document viewers, and students are able to edit and mark up PDF files.
--WritePad ($3.99): PhatWare's advanced note taker for iOS converts practically any handwriting into computer text. Notes created with WritePad can be shared via email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook, as well as saved, printed, exported as PDF files, translated to other languages, synchronized with Dropbox (described later) and exchanged directly between two or more iOS devices. WritePad is synced with other programs, including Evernote, making it a must for students working on projects in groups.
--Graphing Calculator ($1.99): Time magazine ranked this iPhone app as one of the top 10 applications for back-to-school time. This app turns your phone from a smartphone into a high-resolution plotter and graphing calculator that allows you to input multiple equations on the same graph, email graphs to yourself and find the exact coordinates for roots, intersections, minimums and maximums. The app also allows you to display graphs on televisions or projectors if you have an adapter.
--IM+ (free): Keeps students in touch with friends on campus and at home with an impressive combination of compatible networks, including Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger, AIM/iChat, ICQ, MySpace and Jabber. In addition, IM+ offers an in-app browser that lets you continue to chat, bring up links from instant messages, and share content across networks.
--iStudiez Pro ($2.99): This app, voted best education app in 2009, helps students manage their schedules, including upcoming tests and assignments, with alarms and push notifications.
--LiveProfile (free): This is a messaging app that works on multiple platforms, allowing students free messaging without running up texting bills, and also integrates social media sites.
--Navita Translator for BlackBerry (free): Provides language translations.
--Periodic Table of Elements (free): Provides access to the periodic table and full information on each element.
--Dropbox (2 gigabytes free, 50 gigabytes $9.99 per month): Popular with students, this app allows them to "drop" files from different computers into one organized place. When students recruit friends onto Dropbox, they get more storage space. This app works on OS X, Windows, iOS and Android.
"I'm in no way affiliated with Dropbox, but I just think their stuff honestly rocks," says college senior Marcus Hardy. "I know Evernote and Dropbox are bigger players than some, but having messed with many apps that have these functionality sets, I think these are hands down the best. Evernote is the best application I have ever used for schoolwork. Its multi-platform organization and synchronization of notes is simple, elegant and highly useful because the archival and search properties make for fast acquisition of any bit of information. The Web clipping feature is great, and the Web interface is fully functional."
New apps launch every day, offering new functionality to streamline school tasks. Research the apps listed above, and keep researching to discover new apps. You will be sure to find the right app for you and your student.