Reference Apps for iPhone and iPadYou may already use your iPad and iPhone for listening to music or even for planning parties, but that touchscreen device can also be an incredibly valuable source of information. Some of these reference apps for the iPad and iPhone may require an active Internet connection, either through 3G/4G or WiFi, but many also work offline.

Gone are the days when you had to venture down to the local library, thumb your way through the card files, find the appropriate encyclopedia or reference book, look for the appropriate entry or article, and then only discover that the information is outdated. With an iPad or an iPhone in your possession, just about anything you need to know is close at hand. The time between “I wonder” and “I now know” is getting smaller and smaller.

Dictionary.com Dictionary and Thesaurus

Offline Dictionary.com App

Offline Dictionary.com App

Download from iTunes: Free

How do you spell antithesis and what does it mean? What’s another word for smart? What’s the opposite of useless? This iPad reference app contains over 2 million definitions, synonyms and antonyms, including full offline access. That’s one of the main advantages over using the website directly and, best of all, it’s completely free to download.

Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas for iPad

Barefoot World Atlas for iPad

Download from iTunes: $4.99

I remember having a giant atlas in one of my classrooms growing up and it was one of my favorite books to peruse through. I also enjoyed reading through an almanac to help me with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. This handy world atlas app gives you all sorts of useful information about the different countries around the world, including an interactive 3D globe for your virtual travels.

iBird Lite Guide to Birds

iBird Guidebook for iOS

iBird Guidebook for iOS

Download from iTunes: Free

Bird guidebooks are incredibly useful when you’re out in the field, but having a similar app on your iPhone is arguably even better. You get information about a variety of species, audio files for bird songs, different search criteria based on features like color and body pattern, and a full photo center for storing and assigning your bird photos. This is just the light version, though, so you may consider the paid versions for further expansion.

eHow

eHow Reference App

eHow Reference App

Download from iTunes: Free

Whether you want to know how to bake a cake, plant a garden or live on a smaller budget, eHow is a great online resource with plenty of guides, tutorials and articles. When you find the “how-to” that you like, you can save it for later reference or share it online via Facebook or Twitter.

World Factbook 2013

Offline World Factbook 2013 for iPhone and iPad

Offline World Factbook 2013 for iPhone and iPad

Download from iTunes: $0.99

There are plenty of reference apps for the iPad and iPhone. You could say that this one goes hand in hand with the world atlas described above, giving you up-to-date information about life expectancy, economy, government, geography, and more. This is all accessible offline too, including a 5726-megapixel atlas.

How to Draw! Free

Learn to Draw Cartoons with How to Draw

Learn to Draw Cartoons with How to Draw

Download from iTunes: Free

Reference apps aren’t just restricted to facts and data. What if you want to learn a new skill or develop an existing talent? This appropriately named drawing app is fun for both kids and the kids in all of us, teaching us how to draw a variety of cartoon characters. New lessons are added each month.

Quora App

Quora App on iPhone

Quora App on iPhone

Download from iTunes: Free

Going beyond places like Yahoo! Answers and Wikipedia, Quora is arguably one of the most valuable crowd-sourced sources of information online. Tap into that growing community and learn about everything from international breakfast foods to the most versatile actors in Hollywood. You can also pose your own specific questions to Quora members, voting on the best answers.

Image credit: smemon / Flickr

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