Review: MathStudio, by Pomegranate Software (universal binary)
Math Studio, by Pomegranate Software (universal binary)
$19.99, **** (qualified review, see below)
• Intense mathematics application
• Many many features for mathematic calculations and graphing
• Not for novices
• Can be overwhelming
I am in the process of developing a “mathematics for biology teachers” course, and we are considering using iPads to help future teachers learn how to teach mathematics. As part of this preparation, I decided to look at some mathematics applications available for the iPad (and iPhone). MathStudio was one of the first ones I saw.
MathStudio (previously known as the cheaper app SpaceTime) is basically a “everything you can do with math” app. It is designed to do more than simply replace a scientific calculator – it is designed to be a complex graphic calculator, conduct basic statistics, create scripts for solving variables, even sold calculus problems involving limits, integrals, and derivatives! Basically, it is a one-stop math bonanza.
For someone who uses mathematics, the features included in his app are…well…pretty incredible. It seems like a full features math programing language – similar to the computer software package “Mathmatica”. The scripting language is relatively easy to understand – you type exactly as you would write down equations and expressions on a piece of paper.
It’s been a long time since I have taken advanced math courses, so I started using the app with some trepidation. I am sure someone like Leanna would have jumped right in and had little difficulty, but it has been almost 20 years since I took a calculus, differential equations, number theory, or any of the other required math courses for my minor. While I was familiar with the equations and terms used, actually using the app proved to be surprisingly difficult simply due to a lack of familiarity. Yes, I know what a Mobius graph looked like, but I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret the information that the app was presenting to me.
Likewise, even mathematical functions and tools that I was extremely familiar with left me somewhat confused. There is a tutorial option, but it is not incredibly intuitive. For example, as I was running through the “solving” tutorial, it asked me to input a function “f(x)=5x+3”. I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how to input a function “f(x)” when I realized it just wanted me to type it. I then had to toggle back and forth between the omnipresent calculator style input area (where I could put in numbers, variables, etc.) and the keyboard for inputting the “f”, “(“, and “)”. Once I started to try around with more complex processes (like plotting a regression) it became much more difficult. The tutorial basically is a series of on-screen instructions showing you how to use the different features.
Once you do get the hang of it, you have the option of saving different “worksheets”, so you can have a worksheet with a 3D plot, another with a statistical calculation, and yet a third to calculate eigenvectors from a matrix. That means that once you have created a script, you only have to modify variables to recalculate for a specific solution. This is a handy feature that should save lots of time in the long run. You can even import scripts that you might have written on your Mac or PC to use on your iPad.
I tried the app on the iPhone as well, but the small screen really hampered my ability to use it with any degree of ease or accuracy. The universal binary will work on both, however, with the same feature set, so if you forget your iPad you still have a powerful math computer in your pocket.
All in all, this is an extremely powerful, comprehensive mathematics app for the iPad or iPhone. At $19.99, it is aimed squarely at professional users, and the complexity of the app means that people with a strong foundation in mathematical scripting will derive the most benefit. A casual user, or someone who just may think math is fun is more likely to get lost. Someone who just wants to play with the app will be confused, and so for them I would rate the app as only two out of five stars. But for the target audience, the app is a solid tool that will probably get used quite frequently. For the target audience, this app deserves four out of five stars.
Please note, I have included pictures from both my iPhone (on this post) and the iPad (on the next post) for comparison.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.
*To all who are awaiting reviews – I apologize about the lack of reviews recently, but I hope to post a steady stream of app reviews of the next few weeks. If you have contact me regarding an app review, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that contacting me (even sending a promo code) does not guarantee a review. If you have not heard from me within the next week or so, please send me another PM*