There Was No Educational iPhone Mathematics App For That

December 21, 2009 in Education (E)

[] Espoo, Finland - Independent developer Esa Helttula today released three Math apps for iPhone and iPod touch. I had an idea: teach column addition to my daughter using an iPhone. With 100,000 apps, surely there must be several apps for that. Well, there were no apps where the user could actually solve the problems herself.

No problem. I have over 30 years of experience in researching and designing user interfaces and software, so I decided to write an app - or three apps. There is now an app for Column Addition, Column Subtraction and Long Multiplication.

I had two goals: 1. Minimize the amount of button presses the user has to make. 2: Do not penalize for wrong answers.

The first goal was realized by building a 30-button keyboard for the Column Addition app. The Long Multiplication app would have needed a 90-button keyboard and that was out of the question. It has now a rolling 30-button keyboard that anticipates the next correct answer.

The second goal was realized by doing nothing when the user presses a wrong button. Penalizing wrong answers does not help learning. The correct answers are rewarded. There is an animation that moves the digits to their correct columns. There is currently no other reward for solving a problem and this is the biggest shortcoming of all three apps. This will be addressed with future updates.

The apps have users in over 30 countries and they have been among the top 25 paid educational apps in several countries. There are dozens of great math apps for iPhone but no apps that do what these apps do:

Column Addition
The user can solve random column addition problems with up to 3 numbers that have up to 5 digits each.

Column Subtraction
The user can solve random column subtraction problems with up to 3 numbers that have up to 5 digits each.

Long Multiplication
The user can solve random long multiplication problems with two numbers that have up to 5 digits.

Customer feedback
Feedback for Column Addition: "This was helpful for my 7-yr old. I wish it had some more effects to reward them for success and give them a sense of progress but I see it as a useful tool."

Pricing and Availability:
All three apps are available at the iTunes App store and they cost $0.99 each.

Esa Helttula is an independent developer in Espoo, Finland. He develops iPhone apps that are also useful to him or my family. Esa started his programming career with an Apple II Plus in 1979, having designed graphical user interfaces since 1985. Copyright (C) 2009 Esa Helttula. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.


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