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I think we can all agree that math is a pretty handy thing to understand, right? A basic concept of things like fractions and algebraic equivalents is what keeps us from getting taken advantage of by con men who make such tempting offers as trading two of their shiny monies (or even three!) for our one paper money when the latter is actually of greater value.

Still, basic math is all about following the proper procedures to arrive at the one true solution, which is why you don’t get partial credit for having the wrong answer on your math assignment just because you took a novel approach and wrote the numbers with nice penmanship. As such, you can program a machine to spit out the answer in a fraction of a second, and with a new smartphone app, all you have to do is snap a picture of the math problem, and let the app take over from there.

PhotoMath, from U.K./Croatian developer Microblink, gets straight to the point with its name. By taking a photo of a math problem with your smartphone’s camera, the app will automatically solve it for you.

Firing up the app activates your phone’s camera and places a red frame on the screen. Position the math problem inside the frame, snap a photo, and PhotoMath produces the correct answer almost instantaneously.

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Microblink could have stopped there and already had thousands of satisfied users who see PhotoMath as nothing more than a personal assistant that does their math homework for them. However, while the app can be used to completely sidestep the educational process, it can also be used to enhance it, because not only does PhotoMath give you the answer, it also shows you the steps involved in calculating it. If the numbers alone still leave you scratching your head, you can also select a more detailed, conversational walk-through.

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Looked at this way, the app turns any math problem into a step-by-step example, one of the simplest and most direct ways to get a feel for how mathematic principles work. You can also use PhotoMath to take a picture of a completed equation, and the program will tell you whether your solution is correct or incorrect.

Aside from basic arithmetic functions, PhotoMath can currently handle working with fractions and decimals, powers and roots, liner and quadratic equations, equation systems, and absolute value-related problems, with more capabilities on the way in future updates, according to Microblink.

The free app can be downloaded here from the iTunes Store and here from Google Play. Just remember to actually study the steps to solve each problem, otherwise you’ll end up with a perfect score on your homework, a big fat zero on your tests, and a failing grade at the end of the semester (because that’s how averages work).

Sources: Appbank, PhotoMath official website
Top image: Google Play (edited by RocketNews24)
insert images: PhotoMath, Google Play (edited by RocketNews24)