A little confession from me. I was homeschooled (that's not the confession part), and in 8th grade my algebra textbook had the answers to half the problems in the back. And when I was stumped, I would cheat.
Of course, cheating at math is a terrible way to learn, because the whole point isn't to know the answer to 2x + 2 = 7x - 5, it's to understand the methodology that can solve any like problem.
But what if you could cheat at your homework and learn? That seems to be the premise behind app called Socratic. Or at least that's my takeaway. The app lets you take a picture of a problem (you can also type it in, but that's a little laborious), and it'll not only give you an answer, but the steps necessary to to arrive at that answer — and even detailed explanations of the steps and concepts if you need them.
The app is actually designed to answer any kind of school question — science, history, etc. — but the math thing is the slickest part. For other kinds of questions, Socratic kind of does a bit of Googling, and in my experience can typically find similar word problems on the wide internet, or from its own database of answers. On about half the middle school science problems I tried, the app was able to identify the topic at question and show me additional resources about the concepts involved, but for others it was no more powerful than a simple web search.
But for algebra this thing is sick. I pointed it at 2x + 2 = 7x - 5, which I wrote down at random, and it gave me a 10 step process that results in x = 7/5. It has trouble with word problems, but if you can write down a word problem in math notation it shouldn't be an issue. I also tried it on a weird fraction from an AP algebra exam, which it kind of failed at, but then I swiped over and it was showing me this graph, which included the correct answer:
I love this app, not just because it would've helped 8th grade Paul out of a jam, but because it's such a computery use of computers. You use the tiny computer in your pocket to be basically smarter than you already are. It's technology that augments a human brain, not just a distraction.
The creator of Socratic just open sourced its step-by-step solver, called mathsteps. There are a lot of computer-based algebra solvers out there, but for Socratic they had to do some extra engineering to get at the steps a human would need to solve the same problem.
Also, I'd be remiss not to mention Photomath, which has been doing this since 2014, and actually has step-by-step explanations in the recently released Photomath+ paid version (there's a free trial). I like the Socratic interface and explanations a bit better, but I'm glad to see this is a vibrant market.
Well boys and girls, we suppose it was only a matter of time. Since copying a question or math problem from your homework into Google is far too taxing, there’s now a free iPhone app that actually takes things a step further by reading the problems and actually doing your homework for you. The app uses text recognition to digitize questions and then it delivers instant results. More importantly (or at least, it should be more important), the app works through the problem, explaining each step so students can learn when they get stuck.
It’s the perfect tool for cheaters, but it’s also an outstanding way for students to get detailed explanations and apply that knowledge to future problems. Regardless of how you intend to use it, the app is a free download with no in-app purchases needed.
Take a PHOTO of your homework question and get explanations, videos, and step-by-step help instantly. Supports Math, Science, History, English, Econ and more. Completely free, NO in-app purchases. “This app is a lifesaver”
• Fast – Take a photo, get instant results, no waiting
• Explainers – Teaches you exactly what you need to learn
• Videos – The best Youtube videos for your question
• Powerful – Better than Google for homework help
• Free – Free to use and always will be
~~ Students LOVE this 5 star app ~~
“Whenever I don’t get homework I use this and it is helpful and useful. Usually apps either don’t give you what you want or just give you the answer straight up. This app actually shows you the site the whole paragraph they found it in and more it’s not like cheating”
“I only got this today, and it’s already been a lifesaver. I’ve had apps that only helped with one subject or were too difficult to operate, but this one is so easy! I love it!”
“It’s way easier to search up things for hw instead of typing I really love the camera. I like how the whole system works!!! It helps me learn how to go search and get the answers for myself.”
~~ How it works ~~
Socratic is a homework app that combines cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) with amazing learning content to make learning on your phone easy.
Take a picture of a homework question and our AI instantly figures out which concepts you need to learn in order to answer it, and shows you simple, high-quality content designed to make learning easy.
Socratic’s AI combines cutting-edge computer vision technologies, which read questions from images, with machine learning classifiers built using millions of sample homework questions, to accurately predict which concepts will help you solve your question.
Socratic’s team of educators is creating highly-visual, jargon-free content to teach every important high school curriculum concept, and is curating the best online videos from sources like Khan Academy, Crash Course, and others.
Together, the Socratic app represents a huge improvement in how students learn on the Internet.