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There are so many great apps to download this year. They can be a great way to learn something new, or to work on a particular skill or hobby. Apps are convenient because you can do everything from your phone or your tablet, so if you’ve got a long commute, or some time to kill why not invest a little in learning something. Most of the apps recommended here are much cheaper than an actual course or private tuition, it all depends on you. Whether you’re a budding musician or a photographer, or you or your kids want to learn a new language, there will be an app to teach you. Here are some examples of great educational apps to download this year.
TIME Immersive (free)
This is an app linked to the news and journalism and can be appropriate for both older children and adults, anyone who wants to learn by interacting with the story. So TIME magazine has produced an app in order to read their stories in a more unique way, with augmented or virtual reality. This means you can project the story from the news or geographical subject onto a flat surface and interact with the picture by moving your phone. It also comes with accompanying narration and additional detailed content, including both pictures and videos.
Elements of Photography (free)
For those of you who are keen photographers, or just getting started, Elements of Photography is perfect for you. There is a selection of bite-size tutorials on different elements of Photography, such as shutter speed and composition, broken down into clear instructions and diagrams. It’s easy to follow and split into engaging chunks of texts with helpful images, rather than video tutorials. There are also tips and quizzes to help reinforce your learning. Some of them cost extra, usually around $7.99, but there is plenty of free content anyway.
Fluent Forever ($9.99)
This is for those of you who are serious about learning a new language, or want your kids to. Fluent Forever isn’t a free app, but it’s pretty reasonable at ten dollars a month, they do also offer a two week free trial. Think how much a language course or private lesson would cost you? The app offers a personalized program with things like flashcards created especially for you depending on your weaknesses in vocabulary. Personal pronunciation is also tested through the microphone of your phone or device.
Lirica (free to start, later $9.99 monthly subscription)
Another popular way to learn a foreign language is Spanish with Lirica. This app generates different exercises for you based around the lyrics of songs in Spanish. There are many different and popular songs available. You might have to rearrange some lyrics, or complete the gaps, all while singing along. For music fans this is a fun way to learn languages. You could try singing with the whole family if you think they’re up to the challenge.
Drops (free to start, later $10 monthly subscription)
If you’re not so bothered about singing and looking for a way to refresh your vocabulary in your chosen language of study why not think about installing Drops? This one is based on a slightly different method. You basically drag and drop different words and pictures and it’s all category based. It’s very slick and easy to use, but more of an individual experience. Young kids get on so well with a touch screen nowadays it’s frightening. If they’re learning a language you could easily leave them with the app to get on with it. It’ll be easy to use and like a game.
If anyone in your family is a keen gardener or if your kids have plants but aren’t always great at looking after the Smartplant app is ideal. The Smartplant app allows you to record all of your plants into a database, with then it creates a calendar and daily instructions and notifications for you. It tells you when all your plants need watering. It even explains what you did wrong and why any of your plants have perished. It has a wide library of information on many different species of plants, and how much water, light and heat they need, what kind of soil suits them best and how often they will flower. If in doubt you can even take a picture of a flower or plant and the app will identify the species. If you would like there is an option to upgrade to a monthly subscription where you can also talk online to qualified experts for just $3.99.
Flowkey (free to start, later $19.00 monthly subscription)
If you or anyone in your family is interested in learning to play the piano the Flowkey app can allow you to do so through your phone or portable devices. The app listens through your phone’s microphone and offers video tutorials on different subjects such as note value, mastering key jumps and rhythm. There are over one thousand songs available in a variety of different genres.You can pick and choose your favourite ones to practise.
Fender Play ($9.99 monthly)
If it’s guitar you prefer rather than piano the Fender Play is the app for you. This app can teach anyone to play the guitar, kids or adults. There is the option of both acoustic or electric and hundreds of songs to play along to. There are video lessons going over things like chords, riffs and song melodies. You can also skip back and forth through the tutorials as you please. The first month is free and after that it’s a ten dollar monthly description, however when you compare this to how much a professional guitar teacher would cost it’s much cheaper.
Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy ($5.49)
Mobile Observatory 3 Pro – Astronomy allows you to see the sky in your location in real time, or a time of your choice. It employs augmented reality software to create a 3D view of the solar system. This can be fascinating for both child or adult star-gazers. You can look at a map of the stars and name them together. The app also sends you notifications when there will be celestial events such as eclipses or shooting stars.
Shepard Fairey AR – DAMAGED ($4.99)
This significant exhibition can now be seen using augmented reality through this app. Over ten years ago Shepard Fairey created the iconic “Hope” imagery for Barack Obama and this is his latest work turned into a virtual exhibition. There is some narration alongside it from the artist himself and it’s all very informative and interesting. The charge is a one-off payment and it could be an educational watch one evening for all the family.
Masterclass (from $89.99)
This is the most expensive app recommended here today but it is also the most prestigious. Masterclass consists of lessons, mainly video tutorials from experts. There are many famous, celebrity tutors such as Martin Scorcese teaching film direction, or Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking lessons. You do get what you pay for you and you have different options to either pay monthly or annually. You can choose the course you are most passionate about and receive elite training from the best. For someone in the family with a particular hobby or interest who wants to take it further to perhaps even a professional level, this app could be a nice birthday present for them.
Youtube Kids (free)
Last but not least, Youtube Kids advertises itself as the “app made for families”. It’s free as well, thankfully. Youtube Kids allows parents to control all the material their children look at on Youtube. The great thing about this app is that not only is it slick and fun to use but you can create separate profiles. This means you can create a user for each one of your children and set the age appropriate content accordingly. This means your children can enjoy the programs that they love and without having to endure the ones of their young siblings for example. You can even set a screen time limit so you can control how long they watch the videos for. You can decide whether you want to let the kids search for themselves, or only watch the content approved by yourselves. Youtube kids also vets certain channels so you know you can trust what they are watching. In any case you have a lot of content to choose from and complete control.
Whether it’s a new skill or hobby or online entertainment apps will more often than need the internet. You can use them on your phone or other devices remotely if you have a good wifi connection or enough data. It might be a good idea to check that you have the best deal on your phone. Read an unbiased Three SIM review online to compare different SIM only options so that you and your family can get the best deal for your money.