OK, so a lot of us had those Math textbooks with answers at the back and we would quickly flip to them once we get stuck on a question, right? Yeah! *Stop Smiling*. Of course, cheating at math is a bad way to learn, because the whole idea isn’t to know the answer to 3y + 5 = 2y – 10. It is to understand the methodology that can solve any like problem. But what if you could cheat at your homework and learn? Here enters Socratic.
Socratic 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.
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, there’s also 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). Socratic’s interface and explanations are a bit better, but it’s worth noting that this is a vibrant market.
Socratic can also be used for other subjects like chemistry. Sadly, the app exists for only iOs at the moment. You can get the app here.