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PhotoMath is a very interesting app in theory. Yes, it would be great to get help on your math homework from your smartphone. Yes, it would be convenient if that app could assist you through a simple picture of the problem. And yes, it would be beneficial for said app to give step by step instructions on how to solve the problem. These are all things PhotoMath does, at least in theory. However, while the app looks great and, in a sense, functions perfectly well, there are some major flaws that must be addressed before it can be considered a quality app.
PhotoMath – THE GOOD
PhotoMath really does have a straight forward set-up. It takes on a more minimalist design so that it may better focus on the functionality of the app, which is great. I like the fact that the app isn’t tacked on with needless bells and whistles. Taking pictures of math problems was also very easy. The app does not actually require you to snap the picture. Once a math problem is presented in the given field, the app automatically scans it and give you the solution/steps to solve it. It takes out a rather tedious step and further streamlines the already streamlined process.
THE NOT SO GOOD PART
While PhotoMath does pick up fairly well and automatically scans problems, it has hit and miss results. When I tried to scan a problem directly from my computer (with an IPS display), it scanned the problem three different times… and gave me three different answers. It seems PhotoMath sometimes has difficulty detecting every element of a math problem (or in some cases adds in components that don’t exist). The issue is less apparent when scanning problems on paper (Problems on paper must be printed. As of this post the app does not support handwritten problems) but it is annoying. PhotoMath is still a relatively new app, so it can be understood that there are still some bugs to work out. However there are certain issues that must be addressed before users truly consider this a helpful app.
For example, certain blogs and reviews have reported that PhotoMath provides blatantly wrong answers to math problems. There are also criticisms saying that PhotoMath takes convoluted and unnecessary steps in order to reach the correct solution to the problem. Couple these two issues with a host of other criticisms, and the app doesn’t seem quite as effective.
THE APP VERDICT
As of right now, PhotoMath isn’t usable, at least in a practical sense. Yes, it is kind of fun to play with, but it is not reliable for helping solve math problems in a practical setting such as school. PhotoMath really only excels at the simplest of equations, which is something no one should need a smartphone to solve for them.
But, perhaps it is a good thing PhotoMath doesn’t work because if anything, assistant apps such as this may teach students to become dependent on technology to solve their problems rather than their own mental capacities. Apps such as this one could make students complacent, which will stifle creativity and ingenuity. Not that any teacher worth their merit would really allow students to use their phones during math class.