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March 7, 2013

Technology Corner


Productivity? There’s an app for that.

Whether you have a brand-new tablet or are in a long-term relationship with your favorite smartphone, you want to load it with the tools to make it the productive piece of mobile technology you know it can be.

At the same time, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of apps available to you.

Let us help! We’ve highlighted some mobile apps you might find most useful for your work here at Pitt.

Apps that are not free are marked with ($$).

Note: The iPad/iPhone versions of these apps are offered at a special price to Pitt faculty, staff and students through a cooperative agreement with Apple. See


The Box app is free and ties right into the University-wide Box service ( There’s no need to worry about emailing files to yourself or manually copying them to your device; just save them to your free University Box account and they are available on your device for viewing or editing when you need them.

Box also has its own range of affiliated desktop apps to consider, including:

• Box Edit, which allows you to edit any file type you have an app for — Word, images, even CAD files — right in your Box application.

• Box for Office, an add-on to MS Office that allows you to open, edit and save files to your Box account without ever leaving your Office application.

The Box app is available for iPhones, iPads, Android, Blackberry and Windows phones.


Pitt’s enterprise communication service, Lync, also has a free app.  Lync for mobile devices is available for iPhone, iPad, Windows phone, Android and Nokia devices.

With the current Lync app, you can chat with your contacts, view “presence” and modify your status.

In the forthcoming 2013 version, you will see big new features like audio and video conferencing.

MiniKeePass and KeePassDroid

Maybe you forget your password from time to time, but you don’t forget your phone. If you use KeePass to store your passwords securely, add an app to your mobile device for the same secure password storage on your phone. MiniKeePass works on iPhones and iPads, while KeePassDroid works on Android devices.

Blackboard Mobile Learn

CourseWeb or Blackboard is the University’s course management system. Did you know that Blackboard Mobile Learn is available for Apple iOS, Android and Blackberry devices?

iAnnotate PDF ($$)

iAnnotate PDF is useful for reviewing a paper, studying a journal or in any other situation where you need the ability to mark up an electronic document as easily as you could a physical one.

This is a fantastic app for reading, reviewing and annotating PDF, Word and PowerPoint files. You can highlight, comment and even draw right on the document. In fact, with the ability to store, organize and open multiple files, combined with cloud integration, this becomes one of the most effective apps to save you time and effort.

Currently available for iOS devices, a full Android version is coming soon. In the meantime, you can download a free introductory version through Google Play.

The iWork Suite: Pages, Numbers and Keynote ($$)

If you own a Mac in addition to your smart device, you already may be familiar with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, Apple’s big three productivity applications. Pages, Numbers and Keynote effectively are analogous to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.  These Apple apps can read, edit and save in the common Office formats, helping you stay compatible with your colleagues when your work moves from your computer to your smart device and back again.

There are some caveats to this compatibility: The more advanced the features you use in your Office documents, the less compatible these apps may be. But all basic functionality — and quite a few not so basic — is present in the iWork suite and improving regularly.

Only need Pages? Not a problem. Each of these iOS apps is sold separately.

QuickOffice Pro HD ($$)

This app is designed to support Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, even when advanced features are in use. You can open, edit and save virtually all Office formats. QuickOffice even supports the advanced Office features you rely on: spell check, track changes, support for virtually any cloud service and SharePoint integration.

QuickOffice Pro HD is available for iOS and Android devices. Its high-definition interface pairs effectively with the retina display found on the latest iOS devices.

iMovie ($$)

For video editing, management and sharing, Apple’s iMovie is great for its simplicity and power. This app provides an easy and inexpensive way to splice together videos for a lecture or presentation.

Where do I get these apps?

All of the apps designated by ($$) can be purchased in their iOS form from the University’s Software Distribution Services, 204 Bellefield Hall. No discounts are available for Android apps, however; those apps can be purchased through the Google Play store. Free apps are available through your device’s app store.

In addition, departments also can purchase almost any iOS app; discounts may be available if purchased through Software Distribution Services in quantities of 20 or more.

Did we miss something?

This is by no means a definitive list of all the apps you may want or need.  For other useful apps, see the “Make Your Smartphone Smarter” page at

We’re eager to hear which apps you find useful for your work at Pitt. Contact the technology help desk (412/624-HELP or and let us know what app you’d like to see featured or offered at a discount.

Josh Hyman is the supervisor of CSSD’s Software Distribution Services.

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