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Tech review: Grad school apps

Social Break, a new app from Nestle, automatically

Social Break, a new app from Nestle, automatically sends random updates to users' Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Credit: AP

Whether you are enrolling in graduate school to gain additional skills, beef up your resume or earn a larger paycheck, it is a big investment of time and money. These mobile apps can help you navigate the application process and prepare you to be successful once you have arrived.

Which MBA? 2011-12 from The Economist
(iPhone, iPod Touch; free)

If you are wading through potential MBA programs, try the Which MBA? app from The Economist. It opens with two options: The first is an interactive feature that allows you to enter criteria -- including geographic region, tuition and/or program length -- and then spits out relevant options; the second directs you to The Economist magazine rankings of MBA programs at universities, both in the United States and abroad.

Blackboard Mobile Learn
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry; free, with institutional membership)

If you are not already familiar with Blackboard, you will be once you start school. The online platform is used by hundreds of universities across the country. Forget receiving paper copies of syllabi and assignments; they are all posted digitally to Blackboard. Your grades are there, too. The Blackboard Mobile Learn app gives users access to Blackboard while on the go. So if you need to double-check a reading assignment or share your two cents in an online discussion chat, all you have to do is open the app.

Grad School Planner
(iPhone, iPod Touch; 99 cents)

A positive way to start the graduate school experience is by reading up on programs, projects and the names behind them. The Grad School Planner app at 99 cents is a good all-points source on the graduate school scene. It includes a streaming feed of recent higher-ed program news, which can be tailored to your geographic location.

BenchPrep
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android; Free, with course subscriptions)

BenchPrep is like a next-generation version of Kaplan or The Princeton Review, except the courses are designed with mobile consumption in mind. The company offers about a dozen test-prep courses for all the major graduate programs that are priced affordably between $100 and $250. The app offers SAT and ACT training as well as a prep course for the bar exam. Once you purchase a course, you can run it on any compatible device (including personal computers). BenchPrep helps users identify areas in which they have particular strengths or weaknesses and provides practice test questions, flash cards and progress reports.

Trulia Real Estate
(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Android tablet; Free)

Once you decide where you are going to school, you'll need to find a place to live! Trulia apps can pinpoint properties in the area and allow you to search by neighborhood (as long as you include the city name) or by ZIP code. An amenities finder displays nearby restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, banks and schools.

Reports from  Appolicious.com, and Tribune Media Services were used in the review.

Windows on kids' online activity

The upcoming version of Microsoft's Windows 8 will include a tool to help parents monitor their children's online activities. Using the built-in Family Safety feature, parents receive detailed reports on their children's PC use. Parents can create separate Web filters for each child by selecting sites in the report they want to restrict, Microsoft says. -- Peter King

It's no Secret: Apple's No. 13

Apple has lots of enthusiasts, but when it comes to garnering "Facebook fans," the company ranks only 13th among retailers. Social media analytical site Campalyst says Apple's 4.9 million Facebook fans put it behind old-line retailers such as Macy's, Target and Wal-Mart. The retailer with the most Facebook fans: Victoria's Secret, with 18.4 million devotees. -- Peter King

Kindle sees the light

Amazon will launch new versions of its Kindle e-reader and tablets, including a monochrome e-reader with front lighting, according to a source. The company aims to have the new e-reader in stores by July, the source said. Kindle owners have had to buy an external light to attach to the device to read in the dark. The front light eliminates that problem.
 -- Reuters

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