The iPad 3, set for release on March the 16th will be sporting a processor, better graphics, the iPhone’s retina display (same as the iPhone 4) and the ability to shoot 1080p video. This means that all the Apple ‘Fanboys’ will be selling their iPad 2 on eBay around now, sure enough, the average selling price of an iPad 2 has dropped this week to £283, 70% of the price of a new iPad 3.
Before I get into the details of how having an iPad has benefitted me over the last few months, I should probably mention that you can win an iPad 2, amongst a £1000+ prize fund, simply by liking the Epigram Facebook page before April 16th.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was one of the first people to mock iPads when they were first released because I thought that they were just pretentious gadgets. I hadn’t really thought about how I would use it though. Ignoring how you see everybody else using theirs, should you get one for your university or college work? Before we can answer this question, you need to be able to put a value on your degree.
On a basic level, I’m spending roughly £10,000 on my tuition and I’m getting £10,000 further into debt with the aid of my student loan. The degree I get at the end of my course would’ve therefore cost me roughly £20,000 and three years of my life. The average expected student debt for students starting a degree in October this year is as high as £53,400.
How much would you be spend if you could guarantee yourself an extra 3% – pushing that 2:2 closer to a 2:1 or that 2:1 towards a 1st? If an iPad would help you to make better use of what little time and money you have whilst at University then you should seriously consider it. This article will detail just a few big ways in which having an iPad has benefited me, especially with regards to my organisation, note taking, music and entertainment.
I used a diary for 6 months and it changed my life. I finally knew where I needed to be and when, what I should do on any given day and how to do it. Although this simple book was a revolution for my time management, I always found it a little frustrating when I had to change my plans because I find it difficult to move ink. A few weeks after buying my iPad (in January) I decided to do some research and bought ‘Things’.
Although it cost me over £10, Things is worth at least three times that when I consider the time I’ve made better use of. Things is an intuitive and dynamic app which combines a planner, to do list and project manager. Before I tell you exactly what it does, I’ll tell you why I decided to push the boat out and buy it.
I edit the Money section for each issue of Epigram, as well as being the newspaper’s Treasurer. I’m developing a complicated website in my spare time and I’m also on the production team for an exciting student-led feature film. These commitments are juggled in tandem with my Economics & Econometrics degree, organising the house bills, earning money to support myself and making the most of Bristol whilst I’m here [see e2 Money this week for the story of how Motion and In:Motion came to be].
Things helps me to arrange these different commitments into ‘Projects’ each with a deadline and sub-tasks with their own individual deadlines. It’s easy to manage these projects whilst also adding a minor task to today’s to do list. It’s also possible to schedule a project, task or reminder to appear in your ‘today’ list on a specific date.
I can then filter all the tasks I haven’t done yet by due date, project or how it’s tagged. My tags include Epigram, Uni Work, Social, Promises and Errands. Although Things may seem difficult to explain, it’s probably the most intuitive app I have. It’s so satisfying ticking off tasks that you’ve completed and going to your Logbook and browsing everything you’ve completed.
If you ever manage to lose something, you can simply search within the app for the note, task or project that you’ve lost. I still use my diary alongside Things to see when and where my lectures and meetings are though, because they rarely change. It’s definitely the most I’ve ever spent on an app but it’s also the best app I’ve ever bought.
We all like to think we’re good at taking notes, but there’s always room for improvement. My degree has a healthy mixture of both math-heavy and essay-heavy modules, so I need apps that can cater to both of these.
I use Evernote for iPad and iPhone alongside Evernote’s Web Clipper which makes it possible to instantly save any document or webpage so that you can search through at a later date, on any of your devices. I sometimes use this for my lecture notes but if you’d prefer not to type up your piles of notes, then why not take a picture of them so Evernote can attempt to recognise and index your handwriting so it becomes searchable.
With the ability to directly search within every note you’ve ever written, every lecture you’ve ever sat in and every topic you’ve ever studied, you can and will save hours of precious time searching for that exact piece of information you want.
GoodReader is both a cheap and indispensable tool. I have saved all my course-related slides, exercises and reading and have organised them into different folders for each module and sub-topics.
I then open and annotate them whilst I’m sitting in the lecture or tutorial and although people often complain about the iPad keyboard I’ve found myself typing as quickly as my lecturers speak. This means that I can place a pop-up text note next to the relevant equation, graph or theory with the exact words of my lecturer. When I don’t have the ability to type something such as a mathematical equation I can simply whack out my fingers (or stylus) and create colourful graphs alongside my pop-up text notes.
With GoodReader, I can easily go an entire week without using a single piece of paper. All my annotations and notes are attached to my course slides which means that when it comes to exam time, I’ll be able to instantly find what I need.
If I haven’t sold GoodReader to you then I probably stand a better chance telling you about Notability instead. With Notability you can record audio from your lectures and attach it to your notes. Notability has a clever voice-amplifier which ensures a decent recording even from the back of a lecture theatre. Come exam time you’ll have the exact words of your lecturer alongside the notes and equations that you took. There’ll no scrambling for Dictaphone files to use alongside your scrawled sprawl of inky notes.
Oh, and just in case you were worried about losing all of these new priceless notes, you can automatically back them up to Dropbox or SugarSync. Both of these cloud-backup services are phenomenally useful and give me such peace of mind. Even if someone decided to steal/destroy/pour coffee on my laptop, camera, notes, books, iPad or iPhone then all the valuable information I have is still just a click away.
You may not be convinced that Things, GoodReader, Notability, Dropbox or Sugarsync would increase the value of your time by 3% yet, nor may you be convinced that it’s worth almost £400 but I’m not done yet. I’ll be briefer about the next few as they’re not directly related to university work but they’re still incredibly useful/fun.
I may only have a 16GB wi-fi model, but because I use iTunes Match, I can instantly access my entire 12,000 song music library from anywhere. For £21 you can upload all your music to the cloud and as long as Apple has it on the iTunes store then you can play or download it anytime, without using up that valuable storage space.
A similar idea works for Netflix/LoveFilm. Both of their apps allow you to watch any film instantly on your iPad. The quality is impressive and it’s only £5 a month, which also enables use on your phone, Xbox 360, PS3 or laptop. I’m currently on a 90 day free trial from LoveFilm and after that I’ll probably trial Netflix, but if you’re a real film-head then £5 is nothing compared to what you get access to.
I’m currently designing a website for a business, but because I have little to no technical ability it has been difficult to visualise the pages and how they should interact.
Back in December I spent hours in the ASS Library drawing up designs, when I realised that I needed to add another button or feature, I had to rub out and completely re-draw the entire layout. iMockups is an excellent tool though which allows me to create page after page of wire-frame designs which I can then export as a PDF. I can then overlay some graphic design on Photoshop or just annotate the PDFs with GoodReader.
Reading the news is convenient on a phone, but it’s even easier on an iPad. Although the free BBC News app is great, The Guardian and The Times both have affordable subscriptions attached to their slick Apps and if you’re serious about markets and finance then the Financial Times £1 month trial is well worth using.
One of my favourite apps is Guardian Eyewitness which gives you a new incredible photo every day, taken that same day. These pictures usually give you a graphic representation of important news alongside an explanation of what you’re looking at and how the photographer took it. It could also be a cute underwater picture of a dog.
It’s dangerously good for games as well, I was on the train back from London during rush hour recently and as I walked down the train I saw over 30 people on their iPads, playing games. My housemates aren’t immune from this and I often find them playing Temple Run after I’ve turned my back on them for 10 seconds, there is an endless list of mind-numbingly addictive games and most of them are worth playing.
For the more stretegic gamer there are endless tower-defences, puzzle, knowledge, skill and quiz games. Some games don’t really have a genre though so it’s probably worth my metioning how good Flight Control HD is, especially compared to the iPhone version.
The battery life is truly shocking though. The 12-hour claim was put to the test on a coach journey from Bristol to Austria over Christmas and I’m pretty sure that it surpassed everyone’s expectations. We spent almost the entire journey clocking up hours on GeoBee, Sporcle and Little Things and the battery just kept going.
If I wake up late on Monday and notice that the iPad’s only got 18% battery left, even though I’m in Uni 9-5 I can just ration the time I have the screen on and it won’t be a problem.
An iPad really isn’t worth the money if you’re just going to use it for entertainment. You really have to think about what you most need to use it for, and whether the benefits from that are worth the expenditure, count anything else as a bonus. When I figured out that I really wanted the iPad to take comprehensive notes, I did my research and it surpassed my best expectations. I actually think it’s the best note-taking tool on the market, even better than a laptop. Even though it has a multitude of complex uses, it still manages to be both intuitive and enjoyable to use.
Being a student has some benefits eh? Apple now offers discounts on the iPad for higher education now though, so I recommend that you consider buying one, even if it’s just a second hand iPad 1 or 2 sold by an over-excited Apple fanboy.
If you think I’m missing out any apps that might be of interest then by all means let me know below.