Android Tablets for Academics, Writers, and the Easily Overwhelmed
October 30, 2015 1:00 PM   Subscribe

My sister gave me a GPad 7. I like it!

I'm sorry this question is so vague. This is honestly one of the fancier graduation gifts I've gotten!

So far I've used it once at a faculty meeting to take notes. I... don't know what else to do with it, to be honest? It was really generous of her so I want to use it, but I don't know how, or what apps I should get for it.

I was thinking it might be neat to get it pimped out for NaNoWriMo so I can write and research on it, or use it to film YouTube vlogs (my class next sem has a hands on component, so I want to start filming the instructional elements sooner rather than later), or IDK update my Wordpress site on the go. She mentioned using it at the gym but tbh I'm kinda freaked out about breaking it... and also don't know what apps I'd want to use on it...

posted by spunweb to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One thing to keep in mind is that a tablet makes a great way to watch videos on the go. I download TV shows and movies to watch on bus and train rides, but if you're aiming to use it more productively, you can just as easily watch academic talks and presentations.
posted by 256 at 1:26 PM on October 30, 2015

Best answer: Dittoing videos and adding podcasts as awesome train things. Or work out podcasts. Your gym may have a space for a book on treadmills, if so put it there or use bluetooth headphones and put it in a bag.

I would get a nice Bluetooth keyboard if your using it for Nanowrimo. Set up Google Drive / Dropbox early with automatic uploads. Scrivener and the app Simplenote work together as well as Write or Die has an app. For Nanowrimo I would also say look up Google Music, 8tracks, Songza or something like that to play instrumental music for writing time.

Depending on your academic specialty, Mendeley or related app would work. I don't know much about recording but you may want a external mic when you do.

I find most of my apps by Googling top music/writing/calendar android app and installing 4 or 5 to test then erasing them all but the best using Easy Uninstaller to mass delete apps. Congrats on the awesome gift, enjoy exploring what you can do with it.
posted by Liger at 4:14 PM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Books! Install the Kindle and Google Books apps, along with a PDF reader. My public library uses Overdrive; you can get an Overdrive app, too. Do you store work in the cloud? I use Dropbox for everything serious, so I've installed the Dropbox app on my tablet, and can look up specific papers I want to reference from there.

I primarily use my tablet for leisure reading & Metafilter, but I do sometimes bring it to conferences on days when I don't want to drag my laptop around, and it's nice to be able to pull up a paper or write a short email.
posted by yarntheory at 6:47 PM on October 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have an iPad, not an android tablet, but essentially had the same questions last year, as my university gave iPads to all of us academics and we at first had no idea what to use them for.

I experimented a lot and now my main uses are these:
Reading papers. I do almost all my academic reading on the iPad now. Saves printing and losing paper, and yet more comfortable for holding in an armchair, at a cafe, or in the bath than reading on a laptop would be.

Taking notes in meetings. I used to carry my laptop around on days I had meetings and now I don't have to. The iPad slips into my normal bag and is lighter and easier.

I usually have my lesson plan, notes, etc up on the iPad propped in front of me when teaching.

I use it like a second screen in my office. I have my to do list, Twitter or email up on it, and that keeps my main computer screen a bit clearer and makes it easier to focus.

That's about it. At first I thought I'd use it for writing, but even with an external Bluetooth keyboard, I just don't find it very comfortable, and the small screen and limitations of the mobile version of word etc annoy me. I need to have more than one window side by side (eg Mendeley and word, or a PDF and word, or a data file in excel and word, etc) too often when I'm writing for it to work easily on the iPad. But your mileage may vary.

For what it's worth, almost none of my colleagues adopted their free iPads for any of the above. Most people just gave them to their kids.
posted by lollusc at 7:08 PM on October 30, 2015

Best answer: One of Matt Might's academic productivity tips is to use a tablet to read papers and texts when you're not doing anything else with your time:
Life is full of dead time: waiting in offices, waiting in airports, waiting before a lecture, waiting on the bus. Dead time adds up.

Fortunately, there are low-transaction-cost devices which make it easy for an academic to be productive the moment dead time begins: eReaders like the Kindle, smartphones and tablets.

Carrying around a thin tablet holding all of the research papers you have read (and the ones you want to read) salvages otherwise wasted time.

Storing these papers in the cloud makes access easy.

For cloud storage, I really like Copy's simple interface, generous free space and fair-sharing policy.

These devices reclaim a lot of dead time with productive reading, particularly peer-reviewing for conferences and journals.

For extended reading on the iPad, use the Accessibility controls to invert the display to white on black. Your eyes will thank you.

For "pruning" an inbox while waiting, I find that the Mailbox app is especially efficient.
Or you could go the other extreme: block all "fun" or distracting websites on your main machine, and only goof off when you're using the tablet.
posted by rollick at 7:09 PM on October 30, 2015

Best answer: Oh, and the number one app that has been useful for me for note taking, to do lists, and just generally keeping information in one place is Evernote. I find it especially good because my phone is android, my pc is Windows, and my iPad is, well, an iPad, but Evernote works seamlessly on all of these and syncs everything. And the mobile interface is a pleasure to use even on my phone.
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on October 30, 2015

Best answer: Get a good PDF reader (I use ezpdf) and a good ebook reader (kindle, and Moon reader are my favs). Comics are nice on tablets. Ezpdf works great for journal papers.

Use google drive or dropbox for storage. Both work fine.

For notes I use Google Keep. Transfers seamlessly to Chrome on Windows too, and it doesn't bug you as much to upgrade to the paid product as Evernote.

Netflix works great on tablets too.

If you want to write a lot, I'd get a decent (i.e. Logitech) bluetooth keyboard to go with. On-screen typing is fine for short stuff, but not for anything much more than a few sentences. The Google Docs are ok-ish for minimal work, but if you want the real deal, install the MS office package.
posted by bonehead at 7:52 PM on October 30, 2015

Best answer: When you're browsing on your desktop/laptop and find an interesting article, Amazon's Send to Kindle browser extension will let you save it to read later on your tablet using the Kindle app already mentioned (or on a dedicated Kindle device).
posted by davcoo at 7:11 AM on October 31, 2015

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