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The app-driven life: How smartphone apps are changing our lives

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Apps replace scissors and glue

For a year and a half now, the Bancroft School in Worcester, Mass., has required each student from Grades 6 through 12 to own and carry an iPad. Apple's tablet computer plays a role in every class, says Elisa Heinricher, the administrator behind the private school's tablet program. Students dissect digital frogs for biology, read e-books in Spanish, and e-mail their English essays.

"The iPads have become such an integral part of our day that we don't even notice them anymore," says Ms. Heinricher.

In the four years since the App Store opened, Apple customers have downloaded 40 billion mobile apps; they downloaded 20 billion in 2012 alone.

This McDonald's-like number of customers served has caught some parents at the Bancroft School a bit off guard.

"My son had an assignment to create a collage," says Mary Ann Preskul-Ricca to a room of fellow Bancroft parents who meet with Heinricher once a month to keep on top of iPad trends and new apps. "Of course, I'm thinking, 'We need to get supplies and do we have glue?' He just says, 'No, Mom. There's an app.' " (The room laughs and there are several knowing nods.)

Ms. Preskul-Ricca is no Luddite. She uses an iPad regularly for work. "I'm a little slower at this stuff," she says after the meeting. "But it's just my generation. I grew up with paper and books."

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