Skip to main content

Top 10 apps

Tech gadgets aren’t all about fun and games. Nowadays students are utilising their mobile phones, tablets and computers to study smarter. So here's a list of our current top 10 favourite apps that will improve and accelerate your learning.

1. MyUAL app: UAL on your mobile

Get access to the essential information you need about your studies and life at UAL.
Features include:

  • alerts about important events, system issues and disruptions - keep your notifications turned on!
  • quick access to your emails, timetable and Moodle
  • top-up your printer credit and check your library loans.

Devices: Search 'MyUAL' on either the App Store or Google Play.

MyUAL app

2. Inspiration Maps: mind mapping

Inspiration Maps is a useful visual tool to plan your essays and projects, organise your term and more.

Device: For iOS. Create five maps or diagrams for free, then upgrade for £7.99.

Other free mind mapping options: XMind (freeware for Mac and windows), Mindomo (Google Play, iTunes, web-based version) and Freemind (for Mac or PC).

Inspiration Maps iPad App 30-Second Preview

3. OneNote: note taking

OneNote is a flexible digital notebook where you can keep your notes, make "to-do" lists, clip information from web pages, handwrite, save audio notes and more.

You can organise notes into notebooks which are stored in the cloud, so you can see your latest notes on any device. You can use your UAL email to sign in to OneNote (choose "sign in with a work or school account").

Devices: Free for iOS, Android, Mac and PC. Use it by downloading an App or just use your web browser.

Screenshot of the OneNote app

4. Zotero: referencing and citing

Zotero allows you to collect, organise, cite and share your research sources. For more guidance on using Zotero visit our UAL iViewLearning tutorials.

Devices: Free on Windows, Mac, Linux (to create and save references). ZotPad and Zotable gives you access to Zotero libraries from iOS and Android devices respectively.

Cite This For Me is an alternative easy to use referencing tool that builds a bibliography for you in Word.

Getting Started with Zotero: Using Zotero Standalone

5. Text readers built in to your device: have your text read aloud

iPad and iPhones will read selected text, or the whole screen using a synthetic voice. Go to settings, select: Accessibility>Spoken content and turn on Speak Selection and Speak Screen. Instructions on how to read the text are shown when you turn on these settings. You can also turn Highlight Content on, so the text is highlighted as it is read to you.

Android also has built in speech. Google gives more information on android speech.

Devices: Built in on iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, but turned on in different ways depending on whether your device is iOS or Android.

Screenshot of the settings screen on an iPhone

6. Trello: organise and plan

Trello organises tasks by allowing you to create boards for your projects (e.g. "Reading Lists", "Design Project"). Pin lists on your boards (e.g. To Do, Doing, Done) and add tasks to the lists, which can be dragged from one list to another. Your projects are saved in the cloud so all your devices are instantly updated and they can also be shared.

Devices: Free to use and accessible via a web page on all platforms. Apps for iPad/iPhone and Android available.

Getting Started With Trello (Demo)

7. Office Lens

Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures of whiteboards and docs readable. You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and you can even save images to OneNote or OneDrive.

Devices: Free for Windows.

Photo of a man talking in front of a class

8. Free Dictation built in to your device: you talk, it types

When you are ready to type text into an email, note or document, tap the screen where you want the text to appear. Now look for the microphone icon next to the space bar on the onscreen keyboard. Tap this and speak clearly. You need to speak punctuation e.g. "comma". Your speech will be translated into text.

Tip: you need to be connected to the internet for this to work.

Device: Built in (free) on iOS and Android.

Screenshot of the Free Dictation option on an iPhone keyboard

9. Focus Keeper: study timer

Set up the onscreen timer to encourage you to work for 4 sessions of 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break between each session and a longer break at the end (editable). See Pomodoro for an explanation of how this works.

Devices: iPad and iPhone only, Free - can upgrade to pro.

Brain Focus Productivity Timer is a free alternative for Android devices.

Screenshot of the Focus Keeper timer app

10. Background Noise Apps

Research has shown that low levels of background noise can increase creative cognition. If you are missing the library and campus buzz, there are apps that create background noise including Coffitivity (free and for iOS only) that recreates the background noise of a café or Noisli where you have more choice over your background sounds – from rain to trains. Noisli is a free Chrome extension, so you can try it out there (it includes a Pomodoro timer), but it costs £1.99 for the iOS and Android apps. Read more on AbilityNet’s ambient apps page.

Go to the jungle! Noisli Demo