Anyone who thinks you can’t lose something in an itsy-bitsy dorm room has never spent 30 minutes searching for a credit card in a clutch purse (cough, cough). Tile is a set of eight Bluetooth-enabled white squares that attach to essentials like your keys, your wallet and your thesis. It connects with an app that essentially plays Marco Polo with your lost items, letting you know when you’re near them.
You have one night to cram — er, prep — for your poli-sci exam, yet Facebook, eBay and YouTube beckon loudly. This free Mac app lets you shut down your favorite distracting sites so you can’t take a five-minute break that turns into a two-hour cat video spree.
A whistle and pepper spray might sound like good ideas, but they can be hard to grab when you need them. The bSafe app turns your phone into a one-touch alarm that alerts loved ones and shares your location. There’s even a “Fake Call” button so you can abort a bad date less awkwardly.
Remember handheld voice recorders? This app turns your phone into a recorder (no more racing to jot notes as Professor Motormouth goes off on a tangent). Better yet, you can edit as you go, cutting out that random story about your professor’s cat.
Your family is your treasure, so keep track of them on a private map. See where everyone is — and avoid text message fees — with the free Life360 app. If anyone runs into trouble, they can send an instant alert that goes to your voicemail, email and smartphone.
Put lifesaving medical information up front where first responders can see it: On your smartphone’s lock screen with the ICE Standard with Smart911 app. If you call within a Smart911-enabled area, your essential medical contacts and details of any medical conditions, such as diabetes, can be provided to the 911 operators and police.
Next time your roommate joins you for dinner and forgets her wallet, introduce her to Venmo. You can both send and receive money for free if you link a bank account or drop money into Venmo. (There’s a 3 percent fee for using a credit card.)
Now that you’re on your own (kinda), you get the privilege of handling your own budget. And you have no idea how to do that. Mint takes care of the details, keeping you apprised of exactly how much you have and how much you owe.
You’ve got classes back-to-back, sports practice and work, and somehow, you also have to write a term paper. This dictation app lets you speak your ideas (or even whole paragraphs!) on the run, while it types them up for you.
Actor Tom Hanks is a typewriter aficionado with an impressive vintage collection. He collaborated with Hitcents to create a word processor app for iPad, Hanx Writer, that mimics the way manual typewriters sound, feel and perform. The app features three custom typefaces, and has wireless support so that you can easily print your typewritten works of genius.
If you or a loved one lives in a hurricane-prone part of the country, download the hurricane app from the American Red Cross. It tracks hurricane watches and warnings, lists Red Cross shelters and lets you create an “I’m Safe” alert for Facebook, Twitter, email and text.
Find out what Mother Nature has in store via The Weather Channel app. Now you’ll be ready for high snowdrifts, high surf and everything in between. The apps are free for basic; fees apply for Weather Channel Max.
When the shaking starts, you’ll be glad to have the American Red Cross’s earthquake app. It uses USGS data so you can see the intensity of the quake, and gives instructions on what to do before, during and after a quake. A Toolkit function includes a strobe light, flashlight and audible alert functions.
If your CPR skills are rusty, brush up with American Red Cross First Aid. It has videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, preparing you to do CPR or handle other first aid issues as they happen. Fully integrated with 9-1-1, too, so you can call an EMS at any time.
If you want to know if a product is healthy enough for your kids but don’t have time to dive into Google, try the Fooducate app. “It helps you see truly all-natural food and gives the product a letter grade,” says Alise McGregor of Minivan Commuter. The app, which has an impressive database of products, offers helpful explanations about why a food is good or bad and also lists healthy alternatives.