1. Google Assistant

Google Assistant is the reference app, and it’s just a convenient “Ok Google” away on Android devices. Its endless utility might make you wonder why you even need other reference apps, but it’s important to look for alternatives. Google Assistant is a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. It can be overly broad, and it lacks the specific details of dedicated reference apps. That, and it’s listening to what you say all the time. All. The time.

  1. Canada 411

The Canada 411 mobile app is essential for journalists, avid networkers and people who have forgotten their boss’ phone number and are too embarrassed to admit it. You can look up phone numbers by name, reverse-look up people’s addresses if you already have their number, and it works on businesses too.

  1. Wikipedia

The most popular encyclopedia on the internet (and by extension, the world) has a mobile app. Great for academics of all kinds—just make sure not to cite it!

  1. Google Translate

I was trying not to use Google twice in this list—really, I was—but when it comes to on-the-fly translation, there really is no competing with Google Translate. On top of offering alternate translations and reading them out to you, it can work offline and let you translate pictures of text. If you work at all with other languages then this a must-have. Don’t worry, this is the last time we’ll mention Google here.

  1. Dictionary.com

There might be better dictionary apps out there, but dictionary.com‘s is free—so to a student it may as well be the only one.

  1. Online Thesaurus

Why use simple words when you could use a big ones instead? Sorry, let me open up the Online Thesaurus app and rephrase that sentence. Why utilize uncomplicated speech when it lies within your power to express arduous ones alternatively? Online Thesaurus supports a bunch of different languages and is free.

  1. Poet Assistant (English)

If you’re a poet or rapper then you’ll be happy to learn that there’s an app for you. Poet Assistant (English) is a rhyming dictionary that reads your words back to you at varying tempos—perfect for your next fire mixtape.

  1. The Night Sky

Great for astronomers, this app provides you detailed star charts references.

  1. Wolfram Alpha

If you’re in math then you’ve heard of Wolfram Alpha, but even if you’re only curious about the beauty of math Wolfram Alpha is a great entry point.

  1. Google Lens

Oh no.

Google Lens tells you whatever your camera is seeing, whether it’s a dog breed, a kind of tree or strange food. There are alternatives—for example, Bixby Vision on Samsung devices—but nothing really beats Google Lens.

It’s a great app, even if one day Google will use it to learn the faces of all of humanity to imprison dissenters to their authoritarian regime.

Note – IOS users can access Google Lens through the Google Photos app.

by Greg Guevara, Fourth-year Journalism, Carleton

For more articles, see CUOL’s story archive.