Time flies. Summer is almost over and the new school year is upon us. While you may have spent your last months indulging in our 5 entertainment and boredom-curing apps, it's time to fire up your neurons again and use the video medium for more than gushing and awing at the latest cute kitties. Whether you're going back to school, university, or you graduated a long time ago but are still interested in learning new skills, the following selection of apps should provide you with enough grey matter-moulding content to last you years.
Tynker made waves back in March when the developers released the teaching app on the iPad. It introduces children (or anyone, I suppose) to the basic principles of coding and programming. Tynker was available on the web before that, teaching extremely basic programming with a puzzle-style visual interface and pre-made tools. The Android app is only available on tablets, which makes sense given the format, and it costs $4.99 with no in-app purchases.
Lynda.com likes to teach people things, and it prefers to do so using moving pictures. So like any video-centric Android app worth its salt, it's now introducing Chromecast support. This way viewers can take those course videos and toss them up onto a larger screen than the one resting on their laps.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to soldier through multiple course videos, so having the option to sit back and relax is a pretty big deal.
When it comes time to learn a new language on a mobile device (what, you haven't?), Duolingo is the first that comes to mind. But let's say you've completed everything that app has to offer - what then? Lingua.ly has arrived for Android, and it's ready to help newcomers learn any of over twenty languages.
There are many Android developers out there who regularly crank out well-designed apps with thousands of downloads, but some of them are less obvious than others. The American Red Cross is one of those developers. Its apps aren't the most exciting things, but they're probably the only ones on your smartphone that could save your life - or, in this case, your kid's. The American Red Cross Swim app is a companion piece of software that wants to help guide you through the process of helping your kid learn how to swim, so they know how to stay afloat when the time comes to dive in.
Bjork's Biophilia part-album, part-app is an educational experience that teaches kids both about music and the natural sciences. That it helps prevent risky behavior by giving youth a chance to experience an acid trip without doing drugs is an added perk. At some point there appears to be a dis-embodied pelvis making love with the moon, suggesting that some type of abstract sexual education may have slipped in as well. Now all of this is available in the Play Store, two years after Biophilia's iOS debut.
For Android fans with children, it can be a bit disheartening to learn that your kids are using iPads and iPods for learning every day. While this is becoming more and more standard across the country, Google is looking to change that with its newly announced "Google Play for Education." This is exactly what it sounds like: a specially curated version of the Play Store made for educational environments. It offers curriculum-based discovery for grades K-12, which will make it easy for teachers to find apps appropriate for his or her students.
It's been nearly two years since Angy Birds landed on Android and a mere nine months earlier the most popular game in mobile launched on iOS. Rovio has certainly done well for itself, what with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from game and merchandise sales. Angry Birds can't last forever, though. So, what's next from the agents of avian assault? Amazing Alex, a game that promises to be more educational than its predecessor.