Android study apps for Science students

Created on Friday, March 15, 2013.
Filed under Lists.

A QR code list of the Android apps I use for university.


I bought a Nexus 7 tablet to fill a hole in my workflow as a science student. I had three requirements:

  1. I needed to google things quickly and comfortably. My iPhone’’s screen is too small to handle that for hours and hours.
  2. I needed the screen space and resolution to read journal articles. Journal articles are A4 pages of thick, column-laid text, which my Kindle can’t handle satisfactorily.
  3. The device needed to be flexible enough for my needs, which disqualified the iPad immediately.
    • I needed to be able to connect my Alphasmart Neo and dump previously-typed text straight into the tablet, or use the Neo as an external keyboard.
    • I needed to have full control over the device’s filesystem and software installation.
    • The non-replaceable nature of my iPhone’s on-screen keyboard was also really annoying, and I knew that Android had some great OS-wide keyboard replacements. The Nexus 7 filled all of these needs at a great price — almost 50% of an iPad Mini, which is a big deal to a student! However, I found that existing lists of recommended Android apps for students were a bit… ‘light’. They concentrated more on the organisational and social side of being a student and not enough on apps that do actual work. Below I list the ones I use in order of importance in my workflow. The QR codes lead to their Play Store addresses.

If you don’’t have a QR reader on your device, you’’ll probably want to get this one (here it is in the Play Store). it’s robust and easy to use, even with the Nexus 7’s front-facing camera, and you can send links to it to turn them into QR codes. That’s how I made these ones!

I use QR codes whenever I need to link to something which I might need again. For example, whenever I print a protocol for an experimental technique, I’ll also print a QR code that leads back to where I found it. This is also really good for saving DNA/RNA sequences from NCBI, linking to the product page of a manufacturer or supplier, or linking back to special searches that I’’ve saved in journal databases.

Lux is like F.lux for Android. It automatically dims the screen to match your environment, and changes the color temperature at night to make it easier on the eyes. With Lux it’s possible to use the tablet even immediately after waking up.

I’’m super antsy about having my email accessible on mobile devices. If your device is lost or stolen, then its finder has free rein to hijack any of your accounts by requesting a password change and verifying it through the email app. Aside from safe password practices and a pattern lock, Smart App Protector is another layer of security.

The apps I lock are Email and Gmail, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, my university’s app, and the Play Store.

ezPDF Reader costs a small amount of cashola, but has a lot of features that I find useful for reading scientific journal articles. Namely: You can scroll between text columns on a single page and across pages; you can reflow text for easier reading; you can annotate freely on the document; you can export those annotations as a plain-text page of quotations, which is awesome; and you can crop the borders off large PDFs on the spot. it’s also fast enough to deal with textbooks.

When I’’m researching a topic I download tens of journal articles. Those articles need to be organised into folders. When I’’m done reading the articles, they need to be reorganised again. Astro does this very well, and even hooks into Dropbox so I can import/export from the same app.

Media Importer gives you read-only access to files inside USB flash drives or externally-powered hard drives. Good for grabbing files from a classmate.

I type more accurately with this than I do with my iPhone, and typing-by-swiping (the call it Flow) is fast once you get used to it. I’ll never be as fast on a touchscreen as I am on a keyboard, but swiping gets me close.

A simple to-do list app, syncable to iDevices and also to your web browser (soon). I like the Any.Do Moment feature, which is an optional daily event where you are shown all of the items on your list and asked when you want to get them done. Reminding me of everything I need to do like that is an easy way of staying mindful of my work.

Not only does Dropbox keep your reports and spreadsheets safe from untimely hard drive crashes, but it also lets you work on the same document from any device. It also saved my ass that one time I forgot my speech slides at home. Triple-redundant backups, I always tell people. If you don’’t use Dropbox, you really ought to use some other cloud storage tool like Box or Google Drive or SkyDrive — all of which are also supported by Astro File Manager.

A KeePass client for Android. It lacks two-way Dropbox sync, sadly, but you can download your database from Dropbox and use it offline just fine.

Good for research, good for creativity. Whenever I get the spark of an idea I stick it into Evernote with as many tags as I can muster.

No QR for this one!

For some reason, USB syncing with my tablet is not exactly right. it’s probably a Windows thing. Sometimes I’ll delete a file using Astro or via USB, but a 0-byte ghost of the file will remain in Windows Explorer.

Well SnapPea fixes that. It also allows for Wifi syncing, which is fast and reliable.

Sound recorders get quite a bit of use from me. I use them to record myself rehearsing speeches and to record lectures or meetings.

Produces random integers in a range, with the important option of generating only unique numbers. I use this kind of thing a lot to choose samples randomly.

Flowchart and mindmap creation. You can save a work-in-progress, or export it as an image. I tend to use LucidChart because it’s way more flexible, but sometimes it’s good to make a flowchart on the spot.

A plain-text editor. No text formatting or line spacing or other frills, but that’s how I get work done.

An Office suite for beefier text editing or spreadsheeting.

That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2022.