Several years (decades) ago, when I was in high school, I remember teachers rather snidely telling us that we needed to learn all of these things because “it isn’t like we will be walking around with whole computers in our pockets.” The sassy teenager in me desperately wants to go back in time to wave her smartphone in their faces right about now. That same teenaged girl would have loved PhotoMath, an app that lets you use your smartphone’s camera to scan images of math problems from your textbooks.
Sure it lacks some of the old-school charm that those brick-sized Texas Instruments calculators had (I’m hoping at least a few of you can picture what I mean without having to use Google), but with the press of a button you can bridge the gap between hovering the viewfinder over your math homework and seeing the correct answer on the screen.
Math and science teachers are going to have very mixed feelings about this app. Usually their first retort is to point out that the answer is meaningless without showing the steps required to get you there –but PhotoMath shows you those too. That makes it a pretty fantastic cheating tool, but also a pretty remarkable teaching and learning one as well.
Initial reviews of PhotoMath are a little mixed, stating the app easily handles simple equations but can struggle with those that are more complex (though I’m certain this will improve with time).
Unfortunately for those using Android devices, PhotoMath is only available for iOS and Windows Phone right now –but a compatible version has been promised to us in early 2015.