PhotoMath may be an app that you can’t survive without. It all depends on how much help you need solving math problems.

This app scans information on a page and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to process that information. In this case, we’re talking about equations.

The app is fairly simple to use. First, you snap a picture of a math problem from your textbook or from a practice test. The app analyzes the picture and displays a step-by-step solution to the problem.

You don’t even really have to snap a photo; the app automatically scans the math problem once you have it lined up in the viewer field.

PhotoMath gives you instant results. Perhaps this application of modern technology borders on cheating, but that all depends on your intent. It is highly unlikely that your math professor will allow use of smartphones and tablets during tests.

The purpose of using PhotoMath is to sharpen your math skills before taking a test. It tries to make math easy and simple by educating users on how to solve problems. It is available for free for Apple and Android devices.

The app’s developers claim that PhotoMath helps you learn how to solve captured problems and equations through ‘human like’ solving steps. It shows you one approach to solving a problem. That approach, however, may not always be the most direct or approved method.

The app also lets you enter math problems using its simple and intuitive math keyboard. Results instantly appear on-screen as you type. This makes the app a calculator replacement of sorts.

Photomath supports many of the basic math processes students must tackle in learning to solve equations. These include fractions, decimal numbers, linear equations, equation systems and logarithms. You can also attempt more complex problems like solving integrals, trigonometry and derivatives. But so far the app only shows an answer without detailed solving steps.

Not Foolproof

If you are not a strong math student, PhotoMath can be legitimately helpful as a learning device. It could be a good tool for self tutoring.

But the teacher in me worries about relying on a smart calculator for anything more than tutoring assistance and checking answers on homework and practice tests. Math proficiency requires students to understand how to solve an equation. Just getting an answer does not prove anything.

As with any app you consider installing on your smartphone or tablet, check out the user reviews for PhotoMath. You might discover that it is not a panacea for solving your mathematical deficiencies. Sometimes it works well. Other times the PhotoMath app just flubs, according to user reviews.

Sometimes the app fails to solve a math problem. It does not always provide you with an accurate answer.

Still, you might find PhotoMathuseful for very basic math help. You will not need a lot of time learning to use it. It has a minimalist design and is easy to set up.

If you want a more effective solution, check out Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha shows you step-by-step solutions in greater and more reliable detail. Plus, it solves math problems reliably.