The App You Wish You Had In School

It's a math teacher’s worst nightmare come true — there's now a newly invented smartphone app that will essentially do a student’s arithmetic homework for them. Created by MicroBlink, PhotoMath solves equations and even teaches users how to work problems out on their own. Okay, seriously, where was this when I was in school?

The app is ridiculously simple to use. All you have to do is snap a picture of the math problem and just like that, PhotoMath will solve it for you. As if that alone isn’t good enough, users also have the option of having the app “show the work” (how much did you hate that phrase in school?), which breaks down step by step the process used to find the answer.

The best part? So far, PhotoMath can do much more than just your basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. While it probably won’t be much help for those brainiacs sitting in Advanced Calculus (or at least, not yet), it can tackle fractions, simple linear equations, roots, and more. I can practically hear frustrated algebra students everywhere crying in relief.

There is one catch: The app only works if the equation in question is presented in printed text, not handwritten. So if you’re trying to work out how to split a dinner bill on a napkin, or you're frantically scribbling in your notebook in an attempt to finish your homework on the way to school, then you’re out of luck.

Of course, there are some obvious pros and cons to this app. On the one hand, it can be an extremely beneficial learning tool, should users decide to use the feature that maps out the solving of the problem. It can also be a time saver for those simple equations that users may know how to solve, but can’t do quickly in their heads. But the app also brings up the possibility of cheating among students, and it definitely seems like it could encourage laziness when it comes to getting homework finished quickly. Will any young students actually use the learn-it-yourself option if they don’t have to? It seems unlikely. Still, as someone who had many a breakdown over the subject while I was in school, I can't help but appreciate the app’s concept.

PhotoMath is free to download for iOS and Windows Phones users now, and will be available on Android sometime in 2015.

Source: Vimeo; Giphy