7 Must-Have iPad Apps for The Professional Student

7 Must-Have iPad Apps for The Professional Student

UPDATE (June 7, 2016): LiquidText just released an update (2.0) allowing you to edit multiple documents simulaneously and combine notes and highlight in one file. The feature is avialable as a paid add-on ($8.99) but well worth it if you are a power user.

With the recent introduction of the 9.7" iPad Pro many retailers have been discounting their older line of iPads. As some students may be scrambling to pick up these discounted units, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit what I consider the seven must-have iPad apps for professional students.

  1. LiquidText (Free)
    Without exaggeration, this app has reimagined how I read pdfs. Its editing capabilities are beyond anything I've seen in an iOS app. As with a traditional pdf reader, I can comment and highlight text; but what sets LiquidText apart are the things I can do once I've selected that text. They have a built-in 'idea board' that allows me to drag snippets of text and literary make connections between different sections of a pdf. The pinch feature allows me to see multiple highlights or search queries simultaneously without having to scroll through the document. From there I can export the edited pdf or just my comments and highlights as a word document (DOCX). The document even saves page number and the color of my highlights - in case you prefer to use different color highlights. LiquidText can handle pdfs, word documents, and powerpoint slides. For a quick overview check out their YouTube video.

  2. PDF Expert 5 ($9.99)
    I know you may be thinking, "Why would I need two pdf apps?" The truth is LiquidText is great for reading pdfs while PDF Expert is great for editing. I use PDF Expert to redact and add text, rearrange pages, complete fillable forms, and sign documents on-the-go. Similar to LiquidText, I can export the pdf comments and highlights separately; but unlike most other pdf apps, they have a built-in text-to-speech feature that reads pdfs aloud. The reading speed is adjustable and it even highlights individual words as it reads them so I can follow along.
    This app has been known to go on sale from time-to-time. Lowest price found: $4.99, January 2016.

  3. MindNode ($9.99)
    If you've never tried mind-mapping before you're missing out. In my opinion - and the folks at The Sweet Setup agree - MindNode is the freshest and simplest mind-mapping program on the iPad. I use the app to brainstorm papers and potential publications (including posts for this blog). I can easily import images/icons, add notes to nodes, and customize almost everything on the screen. As a student, I especially appreciate the app's ability to export my mind-maps as Markdown text to the Editorial app which can then be converted to a word document.
    This app has been known to go on sale from time-to-time. Lowest price found: $4.99, December 2014.

  4. Notability ($5.99)
    There are tons of note-taking apps out there and it's hard to recommend just one but Notability sets the bar high. With Notability, I can switch seamlessly between typing, handwriting, and drawing my sketchnotes while simultaneously recording the lecture. At the end of the class, I take a photo of the white-board and insert it directly into the app so I have my note's and the teacher's notes. For those who don't have an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil, I particularly like this app for it's built-in palm rejections which means I can use practically any stylus and still rest my palm on the screen while I write. My only complaint is that I can't export my notes as DOCX files. Still I can save them as PDF or RTF files (without images or handwriting).
    This app has been known to go on sale from time-to-time. Lowest price found: $0.99, December 2015.

  5. Editorial ($9.99)
    Editorial is paradoxically one of the simplest and most powerful text editors on iOS. Open a new document and I get a blank screen with the blinking cursor. But click the screwdriver in the corner and I have access to many different workflows. From here I can convert the document into an email, insert images, convert it to HTML, even get a list of all the hyperlinks in my document - especially useful since I blog. I haven't had time to sit down and create my own workflows yet but there's a substantial community who have posted useful lines of code. My favorite feature is the "Text Folding" option, which allows me to temporarily hide text underneath it's heading so I can focus on writing one section at a time.
    If you plan on doing some serious writing on your iPad, I recommend getting Phraseology ($1.99) as well. With the tap of a button, you can send your document from Editorial to Phraseology and rearrange individual sentences and paragraphs, get word counts, identify most commonly used words, highlight different parts of speech, and have your text analyzed for readability.

  6. Drafts 4 ($6.99 - currently on sale)
    If Editorial is my writing app, Drafts 4 is my go-to app for jotting down quick notes and drafting emails. It has many of the same features as Editorial but snappier. Just type away and I can send text to almost app on my iPad. It was also one of the first apps to support text expansion which makes the whole process a lot quicker.
    This app has been known to go on sale from time-to-time. Lowest price found: $4.99, January 2016.

  7. Duet Display ($9.99 - currently on sale)
    Duet Display may be one of the best kept secrets of the whole iPad experience. In layman's terms the app converts my iPad into a second monitor. It works for both Windows or Mac computers. However, more importantly, the iPad retains it's touch screen functionality; so it's actually a second touch-screen monitor. If you edit photos or do any creative work, this touch screen is invaluable. Check out their promo video on YouTube for a quick introduction.
    This app has been known to go on sale from time-to-time. Lowest price found: $7.99, January 2016.

Purchasing all of these apps will set you back $53 but it's honestly worth it if you want to get the maximum experience out of you iPad. There are free alternatives although they're not as powerful. If you can wait, follow iPhone hacks daily app deals and snag them when they go on sale.

What other iPad apps do you use as a Professional Student?

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