Smartphones and tablets pack an incredible amount of computing power into a compact package, making them great portable calculating and mathematical tools. The right apps can take the headache out of dealing with mundane or complex calculations, or even make learning math *gasp* fun. If you're looking for great calculator replacements, detailed math reference tools or just plain fun math games, check out this list of our 10 favorite math apps for Android and iOS devices.
PCalc Lite (iOS)
PCalc Lite for iOS has a well-deserved spot on this list as a free, extremely flexible scientific calculator armed with powerful features. There are also numerous add-ons. The basic package gives you a fair amount to work with, such as trigonometric and logarithmic functions, a radian mode, undo and redo operations, as well as unit conversions and constants. Users looking for more power can purchase additional features and operations through in-app purchases, or spring for the complete version for $9.99.
If you're looking for a tape style calculator that keeps track of your operations and results, check out Digits on iOS, or CalcTape on Android. Both apps operate like smarter versions of the classic tape calculator, keeping track of operations and results, while adding provisions for text labels, and the ability to go back in your calculator history and change operations or figures, with the app automatically adjusting all other operations down the line.
MyScript Calculator comes to the rescue of those of us accustomed to writing down equations on pen and paper rather than transcribing them into a calculator. A handwriting recognition system allows users to write down equations and have the app calculate results. MyScript supports basic arithmetic, as well as percent, square roots, trigonometric (and inverse) functions, logarithms and constants such as pi and Euler's number.
If you're taking up algebra and calculus but can't afford a fancy dedicated graphing calculator, don't fret, as there are great options for free graphing calculator apps on iOS and Android devices. Free Graphing Calculator (iOS) and Algeo Graphing Calculator both provide great graphing calculator functions, as well as many scientific calculator operations and constants.
Wolfram Alpha's computational knowledge engine is a wizard when it comes to a wide array of subjects, so it's no surprise that it's also fantastic at queries involving math, numbers, calculations and statistics (along with 29 other disciplines). Not only will Wolfram Alpha help you do the math, it'll also give you formula details, graphic representations and explanations for how the app got to the solution.
Mathspace aims to replace physical textbooks entirely by providing students and teachers with an online and mobile math textbook and course, complete with interactive lessons on a variety of math topics. The app comes with more than 20,000 interactive problems that users can solve step by step, complete with handwriting recognition for writing down your solutions and answers. An adaptive learning engine provides clear feedback and always tries to keep problems properly challenging for your level. In addition, Mathspace includes video lessons, teacher feedback tools, and covers everything from algebra to geometry, graphing, probability and statistics. Mathspace supports Australian, UK and US Common Core curriculums, and requires a premium subscription, starting at $7.99 per week to $79.99 per year.
Another fantastic math reference app, Math Ref lets users look up more than 1,400 formulas across a number of math and science disciplines. While it isn't as expansive in scope as Wolfram Alpha, Math Ref's coverage of the basics makes it perhaps easier to navigate for those looking for fundamentals. Math Ref covers formulas from Algebra, Calculus, Trigonometry, Physics, Chemistry and more. The app also comes with extras such as a unit converter and calculator functions.
Spinlight takes flash cards to a whole new level with Operation Math, a flashcard-style app that sees kids taking on the role of superspy Agent Prime, who must use their math skills to stop the evil genius Doctor Odd. Players go through a series of missions of increasing difficulty, solving operations in order to proceed to the next level while a countdown ticks in the background. Players can select what operations they want to practice, and as they progress, they can unlock new outfits and watches for Agent Prime to wear on missions.
DragonBox Algebra 5+ is a genuinely clever educational math game that skillfully hides the fact that it's teaching your kids algebra. Targeted at kids aged 5 and up (really!), DragonBox Algebra starts out with simple logic puzzles that have kids matching symbols together in order to clear one side of the screen. Each new puzzle adds new quirks and game rules that cleverly mirror the basic rules of elementary algebra, until in no time at all, your kids are unknowingly balancing the sides of an algebraic equation to isolate a treasure box symbol, gradually replaced with 'X'. The game features 10 chapters with 200 puzzles in total, and covers addition, division and multiplication.
Elementary school arithmetic would probably be more amusing if you know you were going to use that knowledge to avenge the Earth. Calculords is an interesting fusion of lane defense, deck building, but most importantly, basic arithmetic skills. You add, subtract and multiply numbers in order to play your troop cards to destroy the enemy base. Each victory earns you new cards and numbers to customize your deck. It also brings you that much closer to tracking down the dreaded Hate Bit as you seek revenge for Earth's destruction. Do you have what it takes to become the galaxy's greatest Star Nerd?
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