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Applications for Appsolutely Everything

Features Editor, Jenny Kendall, talks about apps for University, the apps that make life easier and the dependence people put upon them.

Is it just me who feels like I’ve lost a limb when I can’t find my smartphone? In fact, my housemates will tell you, I may as well be surgically attached to mine. I do actually think it’s a pretty common complex these days. There are so many apps designed to make our lives so much easier, so it must be understandable that it is such an essential to have on my person, 24/7. I’m weighing up if these apps for everything are a good or bad thing, where we might have become lazy and those apps I now could not live without- yes, I do know that’s sad but it’s true.

It has been asked, are our smartphones making our memories redundant? When we can open our phone’s notes, reminders, shopping list, emails, in seconds and see everything we were trying to remember? Well, I think it’s true many of us are now fairly reliant on our phones. In the first new BBC Sherlock Holmes episode ‘The Woman’ said she would die before she gave her phone up, which I think was a tad extreme- besides iCloud now backs up all my content!

But people do now put a lot of what they want to remember into their phones, to do the hard work for them. Some of us perhaps a little too much – I know a friend of a friend put all their online banking details in their Notes to save forgetting, but then had their phone stolen on a night out, eek. I am told they changed their details the next morning, disaster averted, but that could have been dangerous.

We don’t even need to put ourselves through trying to remember what a song is anymore, with apps like Shazam and SoundHound ready to recognise them for us. I don’t think this is such a bad thing, maybe it even reduces stress from no longer having the ‘what’s that song?’ agonizing moment mid-Lash. I can also do a choice of hundreds of different workouts using iFitness, or go for a jog with my phone in my pocket to track my speed, calories burnt and how many miles I’ve run- theoretically, if I wanted to…
Over the New Year, I was having a conversation with friends and one of them said their 6-year-old cousin had been given a Blackberry Torch for Christmas. My first thought was what on earth does a 6 year old need a Blackberry for, let alone the top of the range torch? After meditating on this for a bit I found myself browsing my App Store and realised how many applications for children there are available now. From interactive children’s books and maths games, to Moshi Monsters and Peppa Pig Party Time! Many teachers would argue this new technology and abundance of apps can actually aid children’s learning and that all classrooms should have iPads – which I’m sure Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, would be very happy to hear.

Now that the January exam period has finished, I have to say how helpful I have found using voice memos. I don’t know if this works for anyone else but I like to summarise my notes down into possible essay questions and then record those onto my phone, like a Dictaphone. Then I listen to the recordings throughout the day, particularly just before bed. It works for me anyway and I don’t know if I would bother with an actual Dictaphone if my phone didn’t have one.

However, if you’re like me and find yourself mid-essay on your laptop suddenly on Facebook, with no recollection of typing in the URL, we can also be distracted by it on our phones, with notifications popping up like texts. If you’re short on willpower near your essay deadline, it could be a good idea to temporarily delete this one. And for those of us also being sucked in by Twitter, we can tell the world we’re making scrambled eggs from our phones too, with location services! Or if it’s a takeaway you’re tweeting about fancying, you don’t even need to call up to order that Noodlebox anymore, there’s an app for that.

It’s definitely useful having London Underground delays fed to my TubeMap, with station finder, to make me feel like less of a tourist when I hit London town. And even better than the BBC News 24-hour television channel to know what’s going on in the world, we can now read breaking news on our phones. You can even read the Metro on your phone now, if you weren’t quick enough to grab a copy from the SU in the morning.

I have recently worked out how to get CardiffMail coming through to my Mail, which has given me a few lie-ins when lectures have been cancelled and I’ve read the email before dragging myself in. I was so thankful to save myself the half-asleep pain of the notice from admin on the door of the lecture theatre.

Learning Central is now available on our phones too, making lecture slides and module announcements easier to access. There is also a Student Support application with lots of helpful Contacts like Student Finance, Cardiff Buses and the Job Shop, to name a few. There is also a map section, so you can finally see where Uni Hall is if you are a Talybonter and how far away it is! It also contains a handy calendar of University dates, an information section containing lots of advice articles and FAQs, and videos on topics from housing to effective learning techniques.

Just quickly I’ll mention this life-saving app… the Red Cross First Aid app – get it? Seriously though, probably worth having, just in case. Obviously a lot of it is quite basic but there are some really helpful pointers if you ever needed them.

It is true though; many people in today’s society cannot cope without their phones. Think back to when the BlackBerry servers went down last October, remember the pain of your housemates who couldn’t use BBM? Well for us students it was annoying but it did actually cause huge inconvenience to the businessmen and women who rely on their BlackBerrys for their jobs. Amusingly, although not for BlackBerry, people were seen tweeting, ‘time to get an iPhone’.

I personally, have found the little things in life have been made easier. I am forever typing my to do list into Notes and budgeting- or attempting to at least, using my Piggie bank app. Shopping has never been the same since I have always got my list readily at hand, so that I’ll never forget to buy milk again because I dropped my scrap of paper before I left the house. These apps can be a useful addition to our day-to-day lives. For the nerds amongst us, it is exciting to imagine what is being developed for the future, to wow us all over again.

If you’re interested in all things Apple, make sure you check out their Online Education store which includes 15% discount.

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