Great iPhone apps for the busy teacher who's also a housewife
January 5, 2010 6:15 PM   Subscribe

My husband got me an iPhone for Christmas. I'm a part-time highschool teacher and a full-time housewife. Are there any apps that could make those aspects of my life easier? (I'm also a master's student! But I've got that covered.)

I've already seen this question and all of the great answers, but I wanted to be more specific about the two things that take up a lot of my time.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Evernote Evernote Evernote.
posted by The Michael The at 6:44 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I love Zenbe Lists. It's free. I use it for my grocery shopping list -- adding stuff to the list on the Zenbe site with my laptop and then "checking" them off the list on the iPhone when I shop. Really, it's a great app for keeping track of pretty much anything. Besides shopping, I also have lists of books I want to read, good wines, "to-do" stuff...
posted by rhartong at 6:53 PM on January 5, 2010

I like using Dropbox both on my home and work computers, and it's nice to have those bits of information on my iPhone with the Dropbox app. You can't edit them, but you can view doc, xls, and ppt files, etc.
posted by dino might at 7:04 PM on January 5, 2010

Evernote Evernote Evernote.

Yes. Yes. Yes.
posted by device55 at 7:24 PM on January 5, 2010

Response by poster: Evernote Evernote Evernote


I mean yes, I'll definetly look into it, but can you tell me why it's so great?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:10 PM on January 5, 2010

Take advantage of the camera + the ability email stuff as a substitute for taking notes on things.

To help with that, JotNot: Take photos of receipts, documents, whiteboards, blackboards etc. It corrects the perspective, bad lighting, etc and lets you can assemble them into PDFs, and then email them, upload them to google docs,, copy to Evernote.
posted by Good Brain at 8:21 PM on January 5, 2010

If you have young kids, look under education and get some kid games. Great for entertaining while waiting in restaurants, doctor offices, etc.
posted by tamitang at 8:40 PM on January 5, 2010

I was a tester for Mise En Place (the $2.99 app, there's another app with a similar name that's more expensive and not the one to which I'm referring). It's great for meal planning and the related shopping. And if you like to cook and it gets complicated, it allows you to schedule your cooking tasks so nothing falls by the wayside (oh, shit. I forgot I was supposed to get the potatoes in the oven by six!). Very handy for a busy life.
posted by padraigin at 9:45 PM on January 5, 2010

I've been looking at teaching as an adjunct at the local CC, which isn't all that much different than high school. One idea I had was to take pictures at the start of class as a form of role call so class time isn't spent on this. Theoretically one could use face recognition for this but I don't think anyone's written this and it probably wouldn't integrate with your school's IT.

I don't actually have an iPhone, but a Nokia n900 with similar but not identical, so I'm not sure what the iphone can and can't do. Some general ideas:

* Bluetooth presentation clicker. Basically a fancy bluetooth keyboard / mousepad to give you some mobility while lecturing from slides. It's funny; I think nearly every high school classroom had computers in them and most of my Computer Science degree classrooms were without one.
* classroom albums
* pocket graphing calculator. More useful if you can hook it up to a projector (mine can, yours probably can't?)
* activity timer. set out five minutes for peer evaluation, conversation labs, etc.
* whiteboard / chalkboard capture, so you can digitize and deliver to students for review, and perhaps convert to an electronic form for animation (more work I know). A lot of my high school lecture experience involved teachers writing timelines on overheads or a series of equation reductions, we can all read faster than they write which makes for boring and distracted teaching.
* Bluetexting? I don't know how prevalent student phones are today, but there are systems that can do gameshow style bluetooth queries. Maybe a 1v100 style activity or just a snap recall quiz during lecture to keep people on their toes. You could do the same with SMS but I imagine parents may not appreciate txting fees.

As for homemaking, online access to recipes can be handy, and setting timers on the phone itself can set you free to wander out of earshot of the oven or laundry alarms. Also, shopping lists can be made and kept with your phone, so you don't forget things. But probably it's more effective to just take a quality picture of the fridge, freezer and pantry than try to create a list.

The one app I know exists on iPhone you may be interested in is RedLaser, which captures barcodes and does price comparison.
posted by pwnguin at 10:01 PM on January 5, 2010

The only reason to use evernote is because it synchs with macs and pcs and smartphones and the web.

The downside, partly because of having to be everywhere, it's ugly, bloated, slow, and ugly compared to almost any of the competition. And it's terrible for taking serious notes. In other words, other than synching, which it does well, it sucks.

But for many synching is the killer feature they need. Depends in what you value.

But f
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:46 PM on January 5, 2010

I am falling in love with Homebudget. It is helping me keep so much undercontrol financially. Plus, you can sync multiple iPhones so that everyone can see and track their financial impact on the family. Now, if I could only get my husband to enter expenses in a timely matter
posted by eggerspretty at 12:44 AM on January 6, 2010

You don't say whether your husband also has an iPhone. If so, you might want to look at apps that let you stay in sync.

I've used Zenbe Lists with my wife for grocery lists, but ultimately found that a little cumbersome. We've tried a couple of grocery-list apps that sync (perhaps there are more by now); we're currently using Grocery Gadget. Being able to add stuff to a centrally maintained grocery list at any time is very handy. If you don't need the sync, there are scads of grocery-list apps.
posted by adamrice at 6:56 AM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, my husband also has an iPhone. To synch, do we need to use the same pc? Cause we dont.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2010

Apps like Grocery Gadget or Evernote generally sync over the air to the cloud. I think there are a few that create an ad-hoc wifi network to another iPhone and sync that way (obviously that requires the two phones to by physically proximate). I'm not aware of any iPhone apps that sync between iPhones and rely on a connection to a desktop computer to do so.

Grocery Gadget syncs every time you add or check off a list item; I previously used INeedStuff, and that required you to initiate each sync session manually, which tended to cause lists to get out of sync.

On the whole sync between phones tip: I don't know how much you rely—or would rely—on your phone's calendar, but there are various ways to sync his-and-hers calendars, so that you see events he created and vice-versa. My wife and I are on Macs, and use a combination of iCal, BusySync, and Google Calendar to do this. It's finicky to set up, but once it's working, it's hands-off and very convenient. I'm guessing you're on Windows. You might want to investigate using Google Calendar with the iPhone's Exchange support to do this (I don't know what other options are available on Windows).
posted by adamrice at 11:20 AM on January 6, 2010

Evernote is too much. It's a remember everything memory dump sort of application. I used it briefly but found I would never actually review what I was dumping there. It was also kind of slow.

I would recommend Simplenote. It just syncs text notes to the web, your phone, and anything else that works with it. It's faster than Evernote, and I think more often than not works better. Great review by John Gruber from Daring Fireball.

I use Instapaper to read articles offline. It works very well.

I use Things as an organizer. It's well designed.
posted by chunking express at 11:36 AM on January 6, 2010

Grocery Zen for quickly putting together grocery lists; sure it's only good for making a specific kind of list, but it does it really, really well.
posted by experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all your answers! I'll be doing some research into all these apps...
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:47 PM on January 6, 2010

The easiest way for Mr Corpse and me to get items to each others calendars is to invite each other to individual events. That way we don't get bothered with irrelevant things (e.g. meetings the other person doesn't care about), but if an appointment gets changed the other person automatically gets an e-mail about it.

We tried various combinations of iCal, Google Calendar, etc, but this works best for us.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2010

Seconding Instapaper, dropbox, and SimpleNote. They are all fantastically useful at their respective purposes. I too tried Evernote and found to be "to much." I'm sure if I was willing to commit to it 100% it could be great as it does keep everything in sync but it just never felt right to me. YMMV.

Some other Apps I like:

- Soulver -- finally a calculator app that thinks like I do and does not pretend to be physical calculator. What's great about it is that it just lets me type in math equations in plain english like "20% of 135" and it...solves them.
- Umbrella -- this app boils the weather report down to its most actionable item and sends me a push alert at 7:30 every morning on days when I need to bring an umbrella with me....i.e., if there is more than a 30% chance of rain on that day.
- RedLaser -- this lets me scan any bar code on any product and instantly get online price comparisons and reviews. It's useful for when I'm at Barnes & Noble and want to know if that sale-priced book is really a good price.
- Ramp Champ -- Having achieved so much increased productively with the apps listed above, I decided to skip "Skee-ball" and go with this app for wasting my free time...beautifully drawn, very simple, and ridiculously addictive.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

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