Everyone loves a good app. They have the power to connect us with others, streamline our daily tasks, and support us in more productive lives. Finding apps for students is easy. Finding quality, free apps for students that actually benefit learning can be a bit trickier.
So I enlisted my seventh and eighth graders (thanks, you all!) to help come up with a list. From powerful note-taking abilities to stunning media creation, here are the best free apps for students in middle or high school.
Note: All apps listed below are free to download, though some offer in-app purchases or paid versions.
Free apps for students who need a productivity boost:
1. Google Drive (iOS / Android)
Google Drive provides students with 15 GB of free, cloud-based file storage. No more worrying about losing a flash drive or emailing files back and forth. With Google Drive, students have easy access to all their files, regardless of where they are or what device they’re using. The app also includes share-sheet support, which means students can send images and videos from their phone’s camera roll directly to Google Drive. Files in Google Drive also have offline capabilities, so access isn’t always restricted to areas with an Internet connection. This makes Google Drive a smart choice for students who want to take their mobile productivity to the next level.
2. Google Docs (iOS / Android)
Google Docs lets students create, edit, and share documents on the go. An essential word processing app, Google Docs helps students work more efficiently. Students can begin a document on one device and finish it on another, without ever needing to save it or attach it to an email.
For collaborative documents, students can type on separate devices yet contribute to the same document in real time. Easy access to revision history means students can track changes made by each collaborator, and revert to earlier versions of the Doc if necessary. This makes Google Docs the ideal app for group projects, essay writing, peer editing, and more. Bonus: check out these awesome ideas for using Google docs in the classroom.
3. Google Slides (iOS / Android)
With Google Slides, students can create, edit, and share slideshow presentations on the go. With the mobile app, students have the additional benefit of taking in-app photos and videos, or adding media directly from their phone’s camera roll. Like Google Docs, students can work together in real-time and track each user’s contribution with the revision history.
4. Google Sheets (iOS / Android)
Google Sheets allows students to create, edit, and share spreadsheets. It is also the destination app for Google Form responses. Students can use Google Forms to collect information via polls, surveys, and event sign-ups. The form responses are automatically sent to a Google Sheet for easy reference and analysis at any time.
5. Google Classroom (iOS / Android)
This is a must-have app for students whose teachers use the blended learning platform, Google Classroom. Downloading the app allows students to have instant access to their classroom stream, along with viewing and editing access to all their classroom assignments. They’ll also receive notifications when new announcements and assignments are posted, which makes it easy to stay informed on all classroom happenings.
6. Google Calendar (iOS / Android)
Google Calendar is a simple way for students to keep track of events, goals, and reminders all in one place. In addition to adding events directly from Gmail, students can set personal goals such as exercise, meditate, or study for finals. Google Calendar will schedule these goals according to the desired frequency and offer reminders when it’s time to get moving. Google Calendar also works with iCloud and Apple Health.
7. Google Keep (iOS / Android)
Google Keep is a visually appealing note-taking app. Students can use Google Keep to store things like websites, images, quotes, and lists on color-coded “sticky” notes. Like Google Drive, the Google Keep app also includes share-sheet support. This means that students can do handy things like save research notes and website sources right from the Share icon in their phone’s web browser.
8. Evernote (iOS / Android)
Evernote is a comprehensive productivity app that allows students to take notes in a variety of formats, including text, sketches, photo, audio, and video. Notes automatically sync across all devices and are easily shared with others for real-time collaboration. Students can use their phone’s camera to scan notes and drawings on paper. Evernote also includes share-sheet support, so students can send attachments to Evernote without ever opening the app.
Notes is an iOS app that comes pre-loaded on all Apple devices. With this native app, students can jot down notes and create checklists with a few quick taps. Students can easily organize notes by sorting them into folders. The browse feature makes finding previously written notes a breeze. With share-sheet support, students can easily add attachments such as photos, maps, links, and documents right from the Share icon on their mobile device. Notes also syncs with iCloud, so students have real-time access to their notes across all devices.
10. CamScanner (iOS / Android)
This clever app turns mobile devices into portable scanners with a simple camera shot. CamScanner automatically enhances documents for clarity and sharpness. Students can export the images as a JPEG or multi-page PDF to save or share with others.
11. myHomework Student Planner (iOS / Android)
This attractive, digital planner app allows students to manage homework, assignments, and upcoming tests. Students can add classes and track their upcoming work in an easy-to-read monthly, weekly, or daily calendar view. Notification reminders help ensure no crucial deadline is missed.
Free apps for students who need help studying:
12. Quizlet (iOS / Android) and StudyBlue (iOS / Android)
With these digital flashcard apps, students can create and share their own flashcards or choose from thousands of stacks created by others. Students can also monitor their progress and gain confidence in their learning. Mobile flashcards contain all the benefits of traditional flashcards, but in a more convenient and easy-to-access format.
13. Khan Academy (iOS / Android)
Khan Academy is a massive database of free videos and exercises on every subject imaginable. With the added benefits of an attractive interface, easy navigation, and offline capabilities, this powerful app is essential for any student looking to sharpen and expand their content-area knowledge. It also made our list of teachers’ favorite math websites.
14. Forest (iOS / Android)
Forest offers a creative approach to helping students focus on school work. To avoid the inevitable distraction of a nearby phone, students can use this clever app to set a certain amount of time during which they need to study. During that time, a digital plant grows. If students exit the app before the time is up, the plant will wither and die. While the free version is fully functional, the stakes are a little higher in the paid version: students can grow an entire forest and collect virtual coins, which can be used towards planting an actual tree somewhere in the world.
Free apps for students to learn language arts:
15. Mad Libs (iOS / Android)
Mad Libs is a classic word game that helps students practice the basic parts of speech. This fun, educational app includes a colorful interface with 21 free stories. Unlike many free apps, Mad Libs doesn’t allow third party advertising, which makes it ideal to use in an educational setting.
16. GoodReads (iOS / Android)
GoodReads offers personalized book recommendations and access to a vast community of like-minded readers. Students can keep a want-to-read list, read and write book reviews, and share book recommendations with others. We shared more ideas on using GoodReads in the classroom here.
17. Word of the Day (iOS)
This app offers daily word-of-the-day notifications. Students can browse the database of previous words and save their favorites for easy reference later. The app also includes options for sharing via text or social media.
18. Words with Friends (iOS / Android)
Words with Friends is one of the most popular word games out there. Like Scrabble, Words with Friends is a board game where players take turns putting letters together to form words. Students can challenge friends and family, or match themselves with other players according to skill level. In addition to providing hours of entertainment, strategy word games such as this one can also provide a variety of cognitive benefits.
Free apps for students to learn math:
19. Photo Math Camera Calculator (iOS / Android)
This clever app allows students to scan troublesome math problems with their camera to get colorful, step-by-step solving instructions. Though this app may have the potential for misuse, it’s helpful for students who want to check their work or get clarification on a particular step. It can also help parents brush up on their math skills to better assist their students at home.
20. Free Graphing Calculator (iOS / Android)
This essential calculator app features scientific and graphing calculator capabilities. It also includes a unit converter, formula reference list, term glossary, and much more.
Free apps for students to learn science:
21. NASA (iOS / Android)
With the NASA app, students have access to a variety of gorgeous video and image galleries, as well as updated scientific news and mission information. Students can explore NASA’s latest articles and tweets, watch live NASA TV, and even save their favorite images to use as wallpaper on their own devices.
22. EarthViewer (iOS / Android)
EarthViewer is a neat app that enables students to view and explore Earth’s history over the last 4.5 billion years. This research-based app includes interactive features and in-depth maps on concepts like continental reconstruction, sea level, and global temperature. Stunning animations, clickable details, and reference lists make this the ideal app for students who want to learn more about Earth’s dynamic history.
Free apps for students to learn social studies:
23. iCivics: Argument Wars (iOS / Android)
Argument Wars is an iCivics game where students are tasked with using their persuasive abilities to argue real Supreme Court cases. Students must evaluate logic and reasoning while learning about the Constitution and landmark Supreme Court cases. In addition to Argument Wars, iCivics is responsible for several other educational apps, including Executive Command (iOS / Android) and Your Bill of Rights (iOS / Android). With absolutely no advertising, these free apps are perfectly designed for educational use.
24. Google Earth (iOS / Android)
Google Earth is an interactive app that enables students to explore the globe with a few swipes of their finger. With simple navigation and clickable details, this app allows students to easily view and learn more about any area on Earth.
Free apps for students to practice a world language:
25. DuoLingo (iOS / Android)
DuoLingo, named Apple’s Best iPhone App of 2013, is one of the most popular language-learning apps. DuoLingo’s lessons are great for brushing up on vocabulary and listening skills, while the recording exercises help students develop stronger speaking skills. DuoLingo currently supports 23 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, and Portuguese.
26. Google Translate (iOS / Android)
Google Translate is a popular app with a variety of text, microphone, and camera translation features. In addition to basic text translations, students can use this powerful app to translate bilingual conversations in real-time. Students can also instantly translate text in images with the built-in camera. With the addition of offline capabilities, this app is a smart choice for students with future travel plans.
Free apps for students to learn coding:
27. Swift Playgrounds (iOS)
Swift Playgrounds is an iPad-only app that teaches students the programming language Swift, which is used by Apple to create apps. This colorful, user-friendly app includes clear instructions, a glossary of common coding terms, and a variety of fun and engaging levels to play. Swift Playgrounds contains no third-party advertising, and all levels are completely free.
Free apps for students to build brain power:
28. Stop, Breathe & Think (iOS / Android)
Stop, Breathe & Think is a mindfulness app that can help students de-stress with a series of short meditation guides. The app provides information to help students get started regardless of experience level. It also includes a mood and meditation tracker so students can easily follow their progress. Stop, Breathe & Think integrates with Apple’s native Health app, which means students can sync their meditation data with other health information like exercise and nutrition.
29. Elevate (iOS / Android)
Elevate, named Apple’s Best iPhone App of 2014, is a brain-training app designed to help improve attention, memory, and more. Students can train with Elevate using a variety of personalized games that target skills in writing, listening, speaking, reading, and math.
30. TED (iOS / Android)
The TED app provides access to the entire library of official TED Talks. Students can browse featured talks, view curated playlists, or discover talks on virtually any topic of interest. Whether students are looking for inspiration or for a good laugh, there’s a TED Talk for just about any occasion. With the motto “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TED is an essential app for all age levels.
31. QuizUp (iOS / Android)
This addictive, multi-player trivia game allows students to challenge friends while learning fun facts on a variety of topics.
Free apps for students to create media:
32. PicCollage Kids (iOS)
This user-friendly app allows students to create a variety of fun images and collages. With no account required and hundreds of free, school-appropriate backgrounds and stickers, this app is ideal for student and classroom use.
33. Adobe Spark Post (iOS)
Adobe Spark Post enables students to create attractive web graphics with a combination of text, images, and animation. Students can save their posts as basic images, live photos, or videos. Adobe Spark projects are automatically saved and synced across all devices for a seamless, worry-free workflow. Use of Adobe Spark apps requires a free account, though students can log in using their Google accounts or regular email.
34. Adobe Spark Page (iOS)
Adobe Spark Page puts a stunning twist on basic presentations, newsletters, invitations, and more. It incorporates dynamic page elements, which creates an interesting parallax type effect when scrolling through the page. All Adobe Spark Page projects are mobile responsive, which means they look amazing on any size screen. Students can use Adobe Spark Page to help their presentations stand out from the group.
35. Adobe Spark Video (iOS)
Adobe Spark Video is an easy-to-use video editor that creates beautiful videos and presentations. Students can record their own voice and choose from a variety of themes, music, and layouts.
36. iMovie (iOS)
iMovie is Apple’s video editing software, which enables students to create and edit professional-looking videos using a variety of templates, graphics, text, and audio. iMovie content is automatically synced across all devices. Students can save their work in up to 1080p HD to their camera roll or publish directly to YouTube, Facebook, or Vimeo.
37. Adobe Photoshop Sketch (iOS / Android)
With this powerful app, students can create realistic artwork with a variety of built-in drawing and painting tools. The app also includes layer support, which means students can add multiple drawing or image layers for more advanced artistic creations. Use of this app requires registering for a free Creative Cloud membership, which includes 2GB of free file storage.
38. Clips (iOS)
Designed by Apple, Clips makes it easy for students to create videos with animated text, graphics, captions, and music. With simple controls and a variety of neat features, this app is perfect for students who want to tell a quick story, make a video tutorial, or create unique videos on the go.
And, a free app that’s just for fun:
39. Snow Day Calculator Pro (iOS)
Using a machine-learning algorithm, this fun app calculates the chances of having a snow day.
2017: 9To5Mac - "EduTech: The best iOS apps for keeping track of assignments..."
2016: Paste Magazine - "Back to School Tech: Apps for All"
2015: Forbes - "6 Back-to-School Tools You Need To Know About"
2014: ABC Action News - "App of the Day"
2013: AppOLearning - "High School Scheduling & Organizing Apps"
2012: Lifehacker - "Lifehacker Pack for iPhone: Student Edition"
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