Your smartphone isn’t just a device for texting and Angry Birds. Plenty of students see smartphones as an escape from the rigors of school work, but some apps can turn your mobile device into a powerful learning machine. From digital math tutors to programs that help you see the stars, educational apps enhance the learning experience.
Pocket Universe ($2.99)
Anyone who has tried to identify the constellations knows it’s not as easy as it looks on paper. Pocket Universe takes the guesswork out of astronomy. Simply hold up your iPhone to the sky, and Pocket Universe with identify stars, planets, constellations and other space objects. Pocket Universe also provides a list of suggestions on what to observe depending on the night. When you’re not identifying planets in the sky, take virtual walks on the surface of the moon and Mars. With Pocket Universe, you’ll be an astronomy wizard inside the classroom and out.
Wolfram Alpha ($2.99)
Computational knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha might be the smartest program on the Internet, and now this knowledge is available on iPhone. The Wolfram Alpha app offers in-depth information on all things computable. It’s particularly helpful for math, with categories in algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Use Wolfram Alpha when you’re hung out on a math concept, and you’ll understand in no time.
Named PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice for language learning, Duolingo will help you learn another language no matter your experience. Break language down into basic categories like phrases, food and animals. You’ll earn points as you complete more in-depth activities. Challenge your friends and you can keep track of your second-language progress with Duolingo’s social function.
Science Glossary (Free)
Perhaps no subject requires a greater grasp of terminology than science. Science Glossary can help when you’re not sure of the difference between cells and molecules, atoms and quarks, speed and acceleration. This robust glossary has in-depth explanations of science topics. Keep it handy and you’ll save hours of flipping through text books.
Never lose another file again with Dropbox. This cloud-based app enables you to store and access files from any compatible device, including smartphones. Say you left your notes saved on your computer at home. If it’s loaded in Dropbox, you’ll be able to access them from your smartphone and ace that test.
Free Graphing Calculator (Free)
Calculus students used to need $100 for a graphing calculator. Smartphones have eliminated that expense. Free Graphing Calculator is one of the highest rated graphing calculators in the App Store. It has all the functions calculus students need to plot derivatives and define limits.
Sometimes you just need a little help. YouTube is here for you. When you’re struggling with a subject or concept, search YouTube’s extensive video database—MIT alum Salman Khan is a particularly effective online teacher known for his straightforward lessons. Search “Khan Academy” for dozens of videos on math and science. YouTube for iPhone works best with Wi-Fi, so head to Hughesnet.com if you need information on getting connected at home. A world of knowledge is in the palm of your hand with this video database.