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EduTech: The best camera calculator apps for iPhone and iPad – 9 to 5 Mac

EduTech is a 9to5Mac weekly series that focuses on technology’s application in education, lower and higher level, both for productivity and enjoyment. If you have suggestions for topics or specific questions you’d like to see answered, feel free to let me know. Catch up on past installments here. 

In this week’s installment, we’re going to focus on the best camera calculator apps for iPhone and iPad. This is one of the best implementations of technology for students and makes the process of entering long equations into a calculator much more efficient.

Specifically, we’re going to focus on the app Photomath, but we’ll highlight a few other choices as well.

There are a couple of things to note before we jump into Photomath, though. For one, these types of calculators have largely gained a reputation for allowing students to “cheat” on their homework thanks to certain features. While this is, of course, a possibility, there are benefits to these apps. The biggest benefit is that, in most cases, you can get an explanation as to why the answer is what it is.

Additionally, if you have the correct answer, you can work backwards from the answer to try to figure out to solve it. Now, let’s talk about Photomath…

Photomath is a camera calculator that I have used for several years and what I have found to be the most advanced app of its kind on the App Store. Photomath is a free download, but there’s an option in-app purchase that I recommend.

  • Camera calculator
  • Handwriting recognition (NEW)
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Smart calculator

02_photomath_v3_steps_zoom

Upon opening Photomath, you’ll see a basic camera view with a box where it wants you to position the equation you are trying to solve. You can adjust the size of the box based on how big the equation you’re trying to solve is. Once you position an equation within the camera window, the app will attempt to solve it. If it is successful, you’ll see the equation and its answer appear at the bottom of the screen.

If you tap on the answer, you can see a step-by-step breakdown of how the app came to the answer. Additionally, you can change what you’re solving for on this screen. For instance, if you have an equation with an x and a y variable, you can tell Photomath to solve for either one.

Photomath supports both typed problems and handwritten problems thanks to its excellent handwriting recognition. Here is the full list of problem types that the app supports:

Photomath supports arithmetics, integers, fractions, decimal numbers, roots, algebraic expressions, linear equations/inequations, quadratic equations/inequations, absolute equations/inequations, systems of equations, logarithms, trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, derivatives and integrals.

In addition to its photo capabilities, Photomath also has a built-in calculator that allows you to type in the problems you need solved, if for some reason you can’t use the camera functionality.

While Photomath is free on the App Store, there’s an in-app purchase that adds the following features:

  • Complete step-by-step instructions
  • Colorful explanations
  • Extra math knowledge

The in-app purchase price varies based on how long you want to unlock the premium features. One month will cost you $.99, while 6 months runs at $4.99 and 12 months runs at $9.99. If you want to be a “lifetime supporter,” that’ll cost you $29.99.

Alternatives

Photomath is far and away the best camera calculator I’ve found for iOS, but there are a few alternatives available. Head below for a full list:

Wrap up

03_photomath_v3_calculator_zoom

Those are just some of the apps that make it incredibly easy to solve math problems while on the go. Obviously, these apps are very much dependent on how you use them. If you use them just to get the answer, you’re not really taking advantage of the full set of benefits. On the other hand, if you use the step-by-step features, you can learn how to solve problems. Not just the answers.

If you have any additional recommendations for this subject, let us know down in the comments.

Check out previous installments of EduTech: 


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