While at WWDC 2012, I had the opportunity to sit down with Shane Crawford of Blue Lightning Labs and take a peak at his Mathemagics apps, Mental Math Tricks and Easy Algebra Fast. These app are design to teach you special rarely taught tricks and tips that can be used when solving different types of math problems. Most of the techniques can be done mentally and make it possible so solve math problems at lightning speeds.
Both apps have the exact same design and method of use which is why I'm reviewing them together. The only real difference between them is the subject matter -- Mental Math Tricks is arithmetic and Easy Algebra Fast is algebra.
There are three different modes in Mathematics: Lessons, Practice, and Play. Lessons is where you go to learn the different tricks provided in the app. It's a simple list and you choose what you want to learn with no pressure. Each lesson will give a description of the problem, then work you through a series of steps to solve it. In Easy Algebra Fast, many of the steps also include some animations that are a great help to visual learners.
I want to reiterate that most of the tricks taught in these apps are not what you would traditionally learn in a math class. These tricks are just that -- tricks -- and that's what makes them so cool.
In Practice mode, you get to choose any topic and practice problems related to that topic. The questions are multiple choice and have easy access to the lesson right there with the question. You just tap View Lesson and the screen slides open and shows you the lesson. If you get a question wrong, you get to try again until you get it right.
On the contrary, in Play mode, you are given a series of questions but only get one chance on each problem to get it right. Just as with Practice mode, you can see the lesson at each question. You can also see your stats whenever you want. This is great for parents and teachers to glance at how well children and students are doing on the questions. Teachers could also use this as away to give students a grade on the lesson.
- Great tips and tricks that you wouldn't learn in a normal math class
- Lessons are easy to understand
- Animations included with Easy Algebra Fast
- Universal for iPhone and iPad
- Some of the graphics in Mental Math Tricks are not retina
The bottom line
The mathemagics app are fantastic little apps for improving your computational and problem solving skills. If you're good a memorizing procedures, then you'll be a big fan of mathemagics. These apps are great for students currently taking math classes, or anyone who is interested in refreshing their skills in a new way.