The top 10 apps for students in Toronto
Apps for students in Toronto make for handy guides to exploring your campus, conquering the city, finding stuff to do, and living on a budget. A little app-based guidance is even handier if you're brand-new on campus and still getting to know the city. The other kids might already know where groceries are cheapest or what the best campus bars are, but Toronto's got tons of great apps that will help you work all that out without trial-and-error. (Or pesky social interaction, for that matter!)
It's worth noting that there are countless non-Toronto-specific apps out there catering to students, including some that would have made my own university years a whole lot easier. (Seriously, there's an app now that lets you generate bibliography entries by scanning the book's bar code. That just seems like an unfair advantage to me.) But we know there's a whole heck of a lot more to campus life than just hitting the books - and these tools will help you make the most of it.
Here are my picks for the top 10 smartphone apps for students in Toronto.
Your campus' app
Campuses can be hideously slow to adopt new technology. From what I hear, Ryerson's course-signup interface is still as backwards and counterintuitive as it was when I went there. But it looks like nearly all of Toronto's post-secondary schools have embraced the mobile revolution with in-house apps that provide course info, campus maps, handy contacts, and more. Check out your options for Ryerson, OCADU, Seneca, George Brown, and U of T (who have a handful for different campuses and faculties).
Toronto Public Library
It follows that if you're studying and researching papers, you're going to be spending a fair amount of time at TPL. But they also have a steadily-growing lineup of digital assets that offer both educational and entertainment value. In addition to managing your account easily through BookMyne (renew items, check holds and due dates, and view your fees), they also offer free magazine downloads to members through the Zinio app, and stream digital audio and video via Hoopla. More proof that having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card.
Dozens and dozens of third-party apps use the TTC's arrivals data to help you navigate the system - it's tough to know which one to choose. Lucky for you, we held a poll to determine the best, and Transit App emerged the victor; it pairs reliable info, route maps and a trip planner with a colourful, clear interface. (As a bonus, it also works in 84 other cities - handy if you head home or go on vacation.) Other local favourites include Moovit, RocketMan, and my own personal standby, TTCWatch. (Android users, we've got a list of the best TTC apps just for you.)
Ride The City
Cycling can be one of the most budget-friendly ways to get around town (a little nerve-wracking at first, maybe, but we've got tips for that). The city's network of bike lanes is growing ever larger; Ride The City's iPhone app makes plotting the safest route easy. (Another option: Toronto Bike Map.)
If you want to try cycling in the city, or want the convenience of having a ride waiting for you wherever you go, Bike Share Toronto presents a handy option. To find bike-sharing stations available near you, check out Toronto Bikes, a third-party app endorsed by the service; it'll let you know how far you are from an available bike, as well as how many are waiting in the station. (Sadly, it's only available for iOS - Android users can grab Spotcycle instead.)
A campus safety app
When you're out and about on campus, a security app can bring some peace of mind; several campuses will now allow you to contact on-campus security at the push of a button. York and Humber both went right for creating safety apps (but, interestingly, lack a general-purpose app of their own). OCAD, meanwhile, adopted technology created by Guardly, a Toronto-based firm, to fuel their own security app. If your campus, like U of T and Ryerson, doesn't have their own yet, check out a universal app like Circle of 6, which relies on personal contacts.
Students will go a long way to save a buck - including schlepping to inconvenient grocery stores to save 25 cents on ramen. GroceryGo trawls the websites of major grocery chains, including Metro, Loblaws, Food Basics, No Frills, and Sobeys, to help you comparison-shop for staple items and snacks. (Sadly, it's only available for Android users.)
Sometimes you're studying late (or too partied-out to leave your rez), you're sick of eating cafeteria food, and you have a whole $20 to splash out on delivery like a baller. Just Eat's mobile app allows you to find restaurants delivering to your location, filter by cuisine or rating, and pay securely. Hello, pad Thai.
An ice-breaking networking app
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and (just maybe) Tinder, you're probably good on social interaction (and online timesucks). But if you're looking to meet some new people and get some quad soccer games or study dates off the ground, there are a couple of Toronto-based startups that can help you make that happen. Spot is a location-based app that alerts you to news and activities happening in geographic locations nearby, while SportBuddy helps you organize pickup games, workout dates or weekly groups.
OK, so we're a little biased. But if you want discover the best of Toronto we have all our lists available at the push of a button through our blogTO app, available for iPhone and iPad. If you're out after hours, you can arm yourself with our Bars, Pubs and Late Night Eats app, which lets you search for pubs / karaoke bars / after-hours grub in the area. Find food trucks visiting your campus with the Toronto Food Trucks app (iPhone and Android), or take advantage of good weather with our Patio Guide (iPhone and Android).
Did I miss any? Leave your must-have apps for Toronto students in the comments.
Photo by Angie Torres via the blogTO Flickr pool.
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