In Austin, there’s always an app for that.
As thousands of college students descend upon Central Texas this week, we’ve put together a guide of must-download apps for students.
This app guide is meant for college freshmen or transfer students who are new to town and need guidance about everything from how to get around to the best on-demand food delivery apps and study guides.
So get out your smartphone and get ready to start downloading.
Let’s start with the obvious: if you are trying to save money and have a tight budget, don’t use food delivery apps.
They all charge delivery and service fees on top of paying for the food, and there is an expectation that you tip your delivery person.
But if you’re pressed for time, here are some of the leading food delivery apps in Austin:
Get food from dozens of popular local restaurants or coffee shops, such as Torchy’s Tacos or Kerbey Lane, delivered to your door.
Austin-based Favor delivers from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. There is a delivery charge and a processing fee, plus an optional tip.
Postmates also offers on-demand delivery of food from local Austin restaurants. The app charges a delivery fee and service fee, which can vary depending on where you’re ordering from. They also offer the option to tip.
Postmates also has a $9.99 a month subscription model in which the customer isn’t charged these fees when they spend $25 or more. Unlike its competitors, Postmates is available 24/7.
UberEats offers on-demand food delivery from local restaurants. It is a separate app from the ride-hailing Uber app.
The delivery window is 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday. UberEATS charges a booking fee, plus an extra fee for busy areas. There’s also an expectation that you tip.
OFFICIAL COLLEGE APPS
Many universities have developed their own apps for students, and they vary widely in terms of functionality and usefulness. We’ll start with what the must-have apps if you’re a University of Texas student:
If you’re a student at the University of Texas at Austin then you should definitely download the school’s official app. It’s where you can quickly access your class schedule, see your account balance and grades. UT also offers an iPhone app dedicated to mental health and wellness issues.
Another app that UT students will want to snag is Canvas, which professors use to post things like class assignments, a syllabus and grades. You can find it on iOS or Android devices under “Canvas by Instructure.”
No other Central Texas colleges have apps as robust as UT’s. But several colleges or universities contacted by the American-Statesman pointed to apps they either have developed or endorsed that offer safety tips and/or alerts when there is a campus crisis.
This official St. Edward’s University app has emergency contacts, crisis alerts and a tool for reporting safety issues through the app, among other features.
The app also offers a “Friend Walk” function which that you to send your location to a friend in real time so they can watch you walk to your destination.
Austin Community College recommends an app called Crisis Manager that it uses to publish safety information. (Click here for the iPhone version.)
This GPS-enabled app allows users to report crime tips with text and images and create a “safety timer,” which allows roommates or family members to check on their status, such as when walking alone at night from a classroom to a dorm room.
Users can also connect directly to campus police through the app.
LIFE HACKS and STUDY AIDS
Whether it’s waking up in time for class, taking notes, or staying informed, these apps are all designed to improve your life:
This app could be your best friend, or your worst nightmare. Instead of being able to hit the snooze button to turn off the alarm like other apps, Alarmy forces users through obstacles that can include solving math problems or having to take pictures at a specific location before being able to turn the alarm off.
We can’t say enough good things about Evernote. This app is perfect for collecting notes, PDFs and web links as well as to-do lists. You can also annotate your images or saved documents. Your Evernote account is accessible on up to two devices for free.
If you have a Google account (which most of us do), download this app as a quick and easy way to access all the files stored on your Google Drive account from your smartphone. It’s totally separate from the Gmail or Hangouts apps.
This on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service does free pickup and delivery, and was started by a former UT students. Their service area includes all of Austin, even areas like Round Rock and Lakeway.
We, of course, had to include our own app, which shows the latest Austin news covering many different topics (including UT-related news).
But seriously, get this app at least for the push notifications, which can be helpful with quickly knowing about weather, crime and other important news you might otherwise miss while you’re in class or studying.
Want to listen to the news as you get ready in the morning or walk to class? KUT’s app can help.
KUT is the local NPR station that gives both national and local news, and its app streams live content from its radio station. Sister station KUTX, which plays an eclectic range of music, also has an app.
Target is planning to open a small-scale store at the Dobie Twenty21 student apartments complex, 2021 Guadalupe St, in November. As most UT students know, this is a BIG deal since there are basically no grocery stores on campus.
The Cartwheel app offers regular mobile-only discounts that could be useful when your bank account looks depressing.
The Austin American-Statesman’s Austin 360 app is a one-stop shop to find local entertainment events, create events with friends and view top dining options around Austin.
If you’re looking for fun stuff to do in Austin, do512 has you covered. You can find events by category -- such as music or comedy -- and the app also allows you to catalogue which events you’re interested in.
The app also allows you to create a personal calendar where you can save events.
Here’s something we can all agree on: Driving through Austin traffic is no fun. Thankfully, there are some apps that can make navigating the daily Austin commute easier, especially if you’re going outside campus limits.
Capital Metro is Austin’s public bus and rail service. CapMetro’s app offers options to buy tickets, see route schedules and plan trips.
While the CapMetro app can be helpful for trip planning, Transit is the best option to see where the buses are at any given time and predict when they will be at your stop. The app, however, is not 100 percent accurate all the time, so use it with caution.
One way to take advantage of Austin’s biker-friendly culture is through the ride-sharing company B-cycle, which has bike stations throughout downtown and three near campus, with two on Guadalupe Street and one on Congress Avenue.
The app allows users to locate BCycle stations, see bike availability at stations and get directions to local businesses.
Uber and Lyft both are back operating in Austin, but the city has ride-hailing options beyond those two national companies. Here are a few companies that either operate exclusively in Austin or have made Austin one of their largest markets:
- RideAustin: This is the only ride-hailing company exclusively in Austin.
- Fasten: Fasten only operates in Austin and Boston.
Chariot: This app can be useful when there’s a large group of people. Chariot operates more like a bus system and picks up multiple riders in a van along a fixed route.
If you park on the University of Texas campus, either through street parking or in a parking garage, use this app to pay for parking. The best part is you can extend your time remotely, so no need to power-walk across campus to feed any meters.
Use this app when you park at city-metered spaces, such as in West Campus or downtown. You can pay for your parking remotely when using this app, meaning you will never have to cut out of class early to feed the meter.
Did we leave any apps off our list that should have been included? Feel free to send suggestions to Lilly Rockwell at email@example.com or Sebastian Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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