Pinworthy: Top 10 back-to-school apps for Windows Phone

Pinworthy: Top 10 back-to-school apps for Windows Phone

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My university days took place in the era of ink and paper.

Oh, how times have changed.

Spiral notebooks and ball-point pens? So last century. Today a well-stocked Windows Phone can substitute for entire backpack’s worth of campus gear and ease the transition to dorm life. So with a new school year just about to start, here are my 10 app picks for making college a little easier.

Fighting the freshman fifteen

Most of my college weight gain stemmed from the slab-like textbooks strapped to my back (that’s what I like to tell myself, anyway). First step to banishing book-induced shoulder pain? Download the Amazon Kindle app (free; Amazon Services LLC). This popular e-reader lets you bookmark pages, highlight key passages and even capture marginalia. The Kindle Store stocks thousands of free classics that will satisfy most Intro to Lit reading lists and also sells e-textbooks. And don’t miss Amazon’s money-saving new textbook rental option. OverDrive Media Console (free; OverDrive Inc.), meanwhile, is another must-have college app, since it provides access to e-books and audiobooks from more than 15,000 public and school libraries around the world.

Amazon Kindle appOverDrive Media Console app

Staying organized

When I left for college my parents told me the most important thing to learn is how to set goals and stay organized. If I’d had a smartphone with the next two apps back in the day, I might have done a better job sticking to their advice. Fans of the popular online task manager Todoist should check out its unofficial Windows Phone companion Todoist Lite (free; Piotr Wach), a great way to organize assignments. Once synched to a account, you can also check your marching orders from any computer. Another highly-rated to-do app is the simply named Tasks (free; Telerik).

Todoist Lite appTasks app

All-nighter apps

Whether your major is biology or basket weaving, college success often comes down to how well you can memorize stuff. My old-school solution was a deck of 4-by-5 note cards. Now there’s Flashcards and My Flip Cards. Flashcards (free; Microsoft Corp.) is a no-frills memorization app that lets you create custom flash cards and take on-demand quizzes. The app helpfully flags wrong answers for follow-up drilling.  My Flip Cards (free; Abel Martin), meanwhile, taps into’s massive user-created flashcard archive (3 million plus, according to the site), which covers just about every imaginable item you might want to commit to memory.

My Flip Cards appFlashcards app

Note to self

Taking class notes is easy with OneNote, which comes pre-installed on every Windows Phone. (My other favorite school-friendly built-in? The phone’s hidden scientific calculator. To reveal it, pop open the Calculator app and turn the phone sideways.) Notes you take on your phone can be uploaded to Windows Live SkyDrive and synched with Office on your PC, so you can pick up where you left off. Many students I know also can’t live without Evernote—perfect for those last-second cram sessions on the way to a test.

Evernote appOneNote for Windows Phone

Economics 101

For me, college also came with some hard lessons in money management. It’s where I first learned the term credit risk. Marketplace has great apps to help students stretch their dollar. Slick Deals (free; XBITech) helps you find deals on everything from airplane tickets to fast food by tapping into listings and recommendations from the popular Slickdeals online community. Looking for a part-time job, place to live, or cheapo Ikea bookshelf for your dorm room? Then you’ll want the Craigslist deLUXE Lite (free; Next Generation Phone Solutions) to browse the latest listings in your area.

Craigslist deLUXE LiteSlick Deals

Apps for U.

Finally, a growing number of colleges and universities (Ohio State, MIT, and Drexel are a few examples I spotted) also now have custom apps in Marketplace that supply everything from campus news and maps to class schedules. Some of these are official university products, others not. But it’s worth a quick search for your school to see what’s out there.

OK, everyone—class dismissed. This week’s homework assignment? Share your own scholarly picks in the comments section.

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  • Here is another great list of Back to School apps by Windows Phone Parent.


  • I recently posted a thread for specific back-to-school apps at WPCentral forums - hope this helps everyone and if you know one app that is not listed, please do so! I'm still looking for great apps :D

  • Mierk
    1 Posts

    Great app list.  I just wonder why Outlook tasks are not included with the WP7 version of Outlook.  I use Outlook extensively as my task manager at work and would love for it to sync with my phone.

  • had a htc mozart now, since december, and i love it. me cant wait for the mango update

  • @ Michael Stroh I also have to double down on the improvements to the OneNote app. It would be realy great to have the ability to record audio, just like the PC version, that way when I have some prof's that ban laptops because they think were goofing off, despite using OneNote to take notes, I can just use my WP. Also helpful when the laptop battery dies and there isent a outlet that is within reasonable reach!

  • @Ning Ning Sun: Welcome back. Happy you liked. :-)

  • Very great list! I'll check out these apps :)

  • @ncoulter: Thanks for the pointer--I'll check it out!

  • @ Rodney: Thanks for the kind words, dude! And for bringing some much needed civility and perspective. Now I really need you over on that Minesweeper thread to help stop the rioting! :-)

    Just kidding. ;-)

    Positive or negative, the team appreciates everyone's comments and opinions (as long as they're civil and constructive). We have thick skin. And I always assume that if people weren't passionate about the product, they wouldn't be here. We like passion.

  • This is off subject, but I wanted to thank Michael and the entire WP team for working so hard to bring us this great platform. I figure I would take some time of from bitching about marketing and be thankful that I have the opportunity to be an early adopter of WP7 and greater. Thank you guys, and let us know what we can do to assist you on the road to the top of the mountain.

  • OneNote is good but....

    I decided to use it to record a team meeting using the recorder. It won't/can't sync with the cloud, trying to email it causes it to crash, USB is out of the question and there is no way to play the recording back on the phone...


  • I really wanna buy my first Windows Phone 7, but there's no keyboard support for Hebrew (I don't wanna change the UI language). Do you have any estimate when it will be added?

    It's really unfortunate, because as far as I know, WP7 is also being developed in Israel.

  • exglade
    6 Posts

    Great picks. Honestly, it's difficult to find good looking good apps in Windows Phone 7.

    Anyway, thanks! I finally found the to-do/tasks app that fit me. :)

  • Don't forget EdGenda! That's my Education-focused To-Do application.

  • Wayne
    5 Posts

    What would be really nice is more phones, especially ones available on pre-paod/no contract plans.

  • @GoodThings2L: Thanks for weighing in. Good observation. I'll flag your request for the feature team.

  • These are some great app picks, but I have more of a feature request... the OneNote Mobile app desperately needs support for "ink" (at least read-only support), so that those of us who use a Windows Tablet PC can make use of our notes on the phone.