Useful apps

On this page, we have collated a selection of apps that students may find useful to use to aid them in their studies.

Study Support Apps and Software Features

There are a variety of apps and features built into your phone that can support you with your studies at Heriot-Watt.

Organisation and Planning
  • Microsoft To Do: This is a task management app that allows you to create task lists, set tasks with different priorities, and set reminders for each task based on when they need to be completed by. There is also a ‘My Day’ list which acts as your daily task list. Microsoft To Do is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, which means you can access it for free as a Heriot-Watt student. The app can be downloaded for Android or iOS.
  • Notion: This is a platform that provides a workspace for users for organisation and planning, as well as notetaking and collaboration with other users. Notion allows you to keep all your notes organised in one place, ensures all your deadlines are added into your calendar, and acts as a place to gather and store research for your assignments. Notion has many template workspaces for different uses, such as for studying, which can make the process of organising your notes a lot easier as you are given a structure to work with. There is a free version of Notion which has some limitations but is still fairly feature-packed. There are also paid subscriptions available. You can download the app for free for Android and iOS. Notion is also available via a web browser, or as a desktop app for Windows and MacOS, and your workspace synchronises across all your devices.
  • OneNote: OneNote is a note-taking app that allows you to take text notes, add images, video or audio recordings, and organise your notes in a way that works for you. OneNote is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, which means you can access it for free as a Heriot-Watt student. OneNote is available for Android and iOS, and can also be accessed on Windows, MacOS and as a web app. One of the key benefits of OneNote is that your notes are synchronised across all of your devices.
  • Notion: Please see the section on Notion in the 'Organisation and Planning' section. Notion can be used as a note-taking platform, as well as for organising and planning. The available workspace templates provide students with a structure for their notes, which helps keep these organised and consistent. You can download the app for free for Android and iOS. Notion is also available via a web browser, or as a desktop app for Windows and MacOS, and your workspace synchronises across all your devices.

R Discovery: This app allows you to search for scholarly articles across a vast database of over 250 million publications, including 40 million open-access articles. You can set up personalised feeds based on your interests and annotate papers while reading them. R Discovery also integrates with Mendeley and Zotero for reference management, allowing you to transfer your findings to your main research software. There is a free plan and a paid-for ‘Prime’ plan. The free plan allows you to create reading lists and access many open-access research papers. It also allows you to access any resources that are available via Heriot-Watt’s access as an institution – this requires you to add Heriot-Watt as your institution in the app settings. You can download the app for free for Android and iOS.

Active Learning and Memory
  • AnkiDroid: This is a free flashcard creation app that is available on Android. It allows the user to create flashcards that have text, image, video, or audio content. As a student, you could create flashcards based on your lecture notes to help you learn the course content. Flashcards can help you identify the content that you understand and the content that you still need to study further.
  • Quizlet: This is a flashcard creation and study app that is available on iOS and Android. There is a free subscription and a paid-for ‘Plus’ subscription. The app allows you to create flashcards, and review these using a choice of learning modes, including Learn (spaced repetition), Scatter (matching terms), and Test (multiple choice). The free version is limited to basic text formatting of flashcards, and limited rounds of reviewing flashcards before having to wait or upgrade to the ‘Plus’ plan. The ‘Plus’ subscription adds the ability for more flashcard formatting options, unlimited rounds of reviewing flashcards, and AI-assistance in the creation of flashcards.
Maintaining Focus
  • ‘Focus Mode’ on Android: Android phones have a ‘Focus Mode’ feature built in to the operating system. This may be labelled differently, depending on the Android phone you are using. This feature enables you to turn off distracting notifications from apps of your choice (e.g. social media, news, streaming services) for a set period of time. You can even set up a schedule – for example, if you tend to study Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 17:30, then you can set focus mode to come on automatically for that time range on specific days. There is a useful article which covers how to activate ‘Focus Mode’ on Android.
  • ‘Focus’ on iOS: Similarly to Android, iOS also has a variety of ‘Focus’ modes, and allows you to create custom focus modes based on the distractions that you would like to minimise. As with Android, you can also schedule specific ‘Focus’ modes to activate at certain times. Further information on how to use ‘Focus’ modes on iOS can be found on Apple’s website.
  • Forest: This app gamifies staying focused. In the app, you plant a virtual tree for each task. As you stay focused on your task and don’t touch your phone, your tree continues to grow. If you close the app, your tree dies, giving you an incentive to keep the app open and stay focused on your task at hand. Earned credits contribute to real-world tree-planting efforts. The app can be downloaded for free on Android, or for a one-off price of £3.99 on iOS.

Microsoft 365 apps: As a Heriot-Watt student, you have access to the full Microsoft 365 suite, including Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and Excel. This also includes the mobile versions of each of these apps, which may be useful to you if you are studying on the go without access to a laptop. You can find download links to all the Microsoft 365 apps for both iOS and Android on Microsoft’s website. Once downloaded, simply sign in using your Heriot-Watt email and password to use each app.


Microsoft Lens: This app can be used for scanning physical documents (such as textbooks or journal articles) and converting them into a digital format, such as a PDF or Word Document. The app has a feature called Immersive Reader, which will allow you to read back the text in the image that you have taken, along with accompanying highlighting so you can follow along as it reads. This may help allow you to better process the text as you can read and listen to it simultaneously. You can download Microsoft Lens for Android or iOS. To access the full functionality of the app, you will have to sign in using your Heriot-Watt email and password.

Wellbeing Apps and Software Features

There are a number of apps and features built into your phone that can help you manage your wellbeing during your studies at Heriot-Watt.

Mindfulness & Meditation
  • Smiling Mind: This is a free app developed by psychologists to teach mindfulness techniques. As a student, you can use it to learn exercises that reduce stress, improve focus, and boost emotional well-being, especially during challenging academic periods. The app can be downloaded for Android and iOS.
  • Insight Timer: This app offers a free tier with a large library of guided meditations on stress, sleep, focus, and more. Led by mindfulness experts, these meditations range from minutes to longer sessions. As a student, you can use the app to manage anxiety, improve focus during study sessions, and wind down before bed. The paid subscription unlocks additional features like custom courses and exclusive meditations, but the core functionality to enhance wellbeing is available for free. You can download the app for Android or iOS.
  • Bedtime or Sleep modes: On an Android phone, you can use the ‘Bedtime Mode’ feature to silence your phone of notifications, calls and texts, dim the wallpaper, and change the screen to black and white to reduce the blue light from the screen when you are getting ready to sleep. This can be scheduled to come on automatically at a certain time when you put your phone on charge. This is called ‘Sleep mode’ on Samsung phones. On iOS, there is a ‘Sleep’ focus mode which you can schedule to automatically activate around bedtime – this enters Do Not Disturb mode, which silences calls, texts and notifications, and gives you a simplified lock screen to minimise distractions if you are checking the time on your phone’s screen.
  • Medito: This is a free app that focuses on meditation and sleep. For sleep, there are resources for meditation for sleep, sleep stories, meditative music, and nature sounds – all of which can help you relax at bedtime. You can download Medito for Android and iOS.
Fitness/Physical Wellbeing

Nike Training Club: This free app offers a wide variety of workouts, from yoga and strength training to HIIT and running. You can filter workouts by body focus, workout length, difficulty, and intensity. You can download the app for Android or iOS.

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