The best free software and apps for students

Penniless student? No cash for apps? Don’t worry – these beauties won’t cost you a bean

With student fees, skyrocketing rents, and the legal requirement that anyone at uni should drink copious amounts of beer, it’s hardly surprising students don’t have money left for apps.

Yet apps are great at helping you get stuff done, whether writing up that report that was due two hours ago, or finding your way to a gig.

Fortunately, our 24 picks are all entirely free.


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The best free apps for living life

Our top apps for not getting lost, staying healthy, not spending all your money in two days flat, and not starving to death because you don’t know how to cook.

Kitchen Stories

Never so much as boiled an egg? Dreading several years surviving on chips and regret? Then grab Kitchen Stories. It lacks the eleventy billion recipes shtick of Allrecipes and Epicurious, but has loads of tasty dishes to inspire and – importantly – step-by-step photo guides, so you can see how badly you’re doing at any point, rather than just at the end.

Get Kitchen Stories: web • Android • iOS

Google Maps

Few things ruin an evening more than inexplicably finding yourself staring at the M4 rather than a great new venue where your friends are meeting. If your sense of direction is this awful, get Google Maps. You can even download your local area and get walking directions offline, for when your phone credit inevitably runs out.

Get Google Maps: webAndroidiOS


Should your student lifestyle involve a lot of sitting around drinking, talking rubbish, and drinking a bit more, you need a fitness app. Runkeeper is free, ‘gamifies’ progress, and enables you to follow friends – the more motivated of which will guilt you into running when you spot their depressingly impressive stats.

Get Runkeeper: Android • iOS


Take some pain out of travelling by giant metal tube. This app can help you plan journeys, buy tickets, and track trains. Handily, if you awake in an unknown field, surrounded by empty bottles and a framed photo of Barry Manilow, it’ll also use GPS to point you at nearby stations.

Get trainline: web • AndroidiOS

Hello Weather

Hardy students brave the elements – see any chilly December club queue, with people largely devoid of clothing. Still, if you fancy checking whether you’re likely to be rained on if you venture out to a lecture, Hello Weather is free, colourful, and information-rich. Need maps, too? Add Dark Sky to your browser bookmarks.

Get Hello Weather: AndroidiOS

The best free apps for entertainment and fun

Whether you're addicted to your camera or merely want to find the best places when going out, here are the apps for you.

Student Beans

Companies like relieving students of money, but they often entice you in by way of discounts. If you can’t be bothered scouring the internet for those offers, have Student Beans do the donkey work. Great whether you want some cheap pizza or – rather inexplicably – a bargain iron.

Get Student Beans: web • AndroidiOS


You’re somewhere new, which is great. You have no idea what’s around you, which is less great. Foursquare gives you a head start on finding great places to eat, drink, shop, and have fun, all helpfully ranked by locals.

Get Foursquare: web • Android • iOS


Time was, you had to lug a box of CDs to uni, but now streaming music rules, offering instant access to more tracks than your ears could take in during several lifetimes. Spotify adds a skinflint mode to the mix – free if you can stomach ads, and a lack of skipping on mobile.

Get Spotify: web • AndroidiOS • desktop


Dead-tree newspapers and magazines are so last century (apart from Stuff, obviously); but if you also don’t want an algorithm choosing what you read, try Feedly. Use the service to subscribe to the feeds of favourite sites, and it’ll deliver headlines and articles whenever something new pops up.

Get Feedly: webAndroidiOS


Your smartphone’s got a perfectly good camera app welded to it, but Retrica’s almost certainly more fun. You get loads of filters, superb time-lapse collages, and plenty of daft stickers to slap all over your snaps in a manner that would make professional photographers weep.

Get Retrica: Android • iOS


Love taking videos? Can’t be bothered to actually do anything with said videos? Then get Quik. Choose some favourites and a theme, and it’ll do the editing for you. In fact, do nothing at all and it’ll cobble together something new every week for your perusal.

Get Quik: Android • iOS