Technology has changed the way we do almost everything, from picking a restaurant to finding a job to studying. Perhaps one of the simplest examples of this technical shift is the rise of the mobile app. Not long ago, English majors had no choice but to lug around books, take handwritten notes, and lock themselves away in library resource rooms for hours on end. Now, students with smartphones or tablets can do research anytime and anywhere -- some would even say more efficiently.
Yes, for the nostalgic-at-heart, no mobile gadget can replace a favorite earmarked edition or stockpiles of composition notebooks, but let's face it -- today's busy students need all the help they can get. The right apps can ramp up your study potential, keep you on task, and help you share your amazing insights with fellow students. The key is knowing which applications do these things well and easily. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Here are just ten of our favorite apps for English majors, chosen for their simplicity, their creative or educational impact, and their social potential.
10 must-have apps for English majors
- Ambiance. Serious students and romantics alike understand how important environment can be for setting the mood. Enter Ambiance. Creator Urban Apps calls Ambiance an "environment enhancer" that allows users to create the ideal atmosphere through more than 2,500 free sounds that can help them focus, relax, or escape into a good book. Try it out on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices (or desktop computers with diverse operating systems).
- Dictionary.com. English majors appreciate the value of a good dictionary, but those with the Dictionary.com app can explore this resource's true potential. This app lets you search for words using verbal cues, brush up on your vocabulary through Word of the Day updates, and even see what words others are searching for. Available for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone platforms as well as NOOK, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire.
- Goodreads. Book lovers enjoy getting swept away in a truly great read, but this need not be a solitary experience. The Goodreads app makes reading a social event through online book clubs, shared notes, and reader reviews. The app also lets you see what your friends are reading, manage your must-read list, and find literary events near you. Access it through Facebook and on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices such as Kindle Fire.
- Margins. English majors don't just read books -- they annotate them through and through. Manage those notes with Margins, suggests Architechies, the creator of this handy app. Margins can rescue you from forgetting important insights or losing citations and useful quotes. Keep bibliographic information alongside your notes, search for publications via ISBN, and conduct keyword searches all through a user-friendly interface. Runs on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices.
- Pocket Quiz: Classics of World Literature. Think you know everything worth knowing about classical literature? Test your knowledge with the Pocket Quiz: Classics of World Literature app. This timed quiz includes 150 trivia questions about 25 literary classics, from Don Quixote to Effi Briest to Faust. You can even challenge a friend -- a great way for those attending online colleges to study together and connect despite their distance. Run it on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
- Quotebot - 30,000 Great Quotes! English majors may have a way with words, but even the most dedicated students know that sometimes, someone else has said it better. Quotebot can help you navigate among some of the wisest, funniest, or most inspirational quotes throughout history via an intuitive interface. Search quotations by keyword, author, or category, and then save your favorites. Available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
- Remarks. Inspiration or knowledge can happen anywhere, anytime. Capture the moment with Remarks. According to creator Readdle, Remarks lets you jot down thoughts or information, annotate documents, and outline your notes while on the go. Users can write notes with a stylus or just sketch a new idea. Remarks can be useful for students attending online schools because it allows them to take digital notes while their computers are streaming lectures or other media. Available for iPad.
- Spell Checker. Few things irk English majors or their professors more than misspellings. This invention is designed to help you spell check and format every word you write across all of your Android applications. Once the app identifies a typo, simply tap on the word to view a list of suggestions for the correct spelling.
- The Brainstormer. Looking for your next big idea? The Brainstormer app aims to provide inspiration for writers and other creative professionals. Beat writer's block and generate new ideas through thoughtfully curated (and editable) "Classic Brainstormer" lists of words and ideas, accessible in endless combinations via circular wheels or slot-machine style. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
- Wattpad. A truly phenomenal book may be priceless, but it is even better when it is free. This is precisely what gives Wattpad an edge over other e-reading applications. Discover free e-books and stories in any genre, including original stories from fellow English majors. Designed for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle Fire.
In addition to these innovative study aids, don't forget to check out literary apps from various colleges, including the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature app created by the University of Iowa. Whether you use a mobile phone or an e-reader, these tools can facilitate your English studies while you're on the go.