“You won’t always have a calculator on you!” That’s what my math teachers told me all through high school. Little did they know we’d all be carrying around miniature computers in our pockets within the next decade. Now we’re hearing that smartphones are making people dumber because we never have to think for ourselves anymore, which might be true but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you neglect your mental acuity and offload all of your mental tasks to your smartphone, then yes, you will suffer from “smartphone made me dumb” syndrome. However, when used in the right way with the right apps, your Android phone can actually help improve your mental strength and flexibility. Here are some apps that I recommend.
Anki is a flashcards application that’s built for flexibility. It’s available across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android) and the flashcards can be synchronized between multiple devices using the free AnkiWeb service. AnkiDroid is the Android version and it can either be used as a standalone app – create new flashcards within AnkiDroid itself – or as a mobile interface for already existing Anki cards.
Within AnkiDroid, you can organize your flashcards into note decks, which are basically separate flashcard piles. For example, you can have one deck for learning a new language, one for studying math notes, and another for general trivia. Whatever your heart desires, you can make it into a deck.
The great thing about AnkiDroid, of course, is its mobility. Even if you prefer Anki’s desktop versions, you can use AnkiDroid to take those cards with you on the go and study them while riding your morning train to work. The actual card flipping is incredibly easy, intuitive, and conducive to memory.
For a more complete overview of the features, check out Erez’s review of AnkiDroid.
Back when I was a wee little kid, I used to have loads of fun playing a game called 24, which was basically a deck of cards where each card had four numbers on it and you needed to use various math operations on those four numbers to arrive at an answer of 24. It was a wonderful puzzle game that really sharpened one’s math skills.
Quento is similar in concept: you have a grid of numbers and operations and the game tells you the answer. The goal is to find a path through the numbers and operations such that the result of the calculation is the target answer. There are different difficulty levels as well, some which ask you to use only two numbers, or only three numbers, etc.
The actual operations themselves aren’t incredibly advanced (e.g., no calculus or trigonometry) but the puzzles are still quite hard and require you to exercise a part of your brain that probably doesn’t see much exercise to begin with.
If visual-based logic challenges are more your style, then One Touch Drawing is the game you want. Yet again, this app hearkens back to a childhood brainbuster game I used to play, one where you had to draw various figures without picking up the tip of your pen and without retreading any lines.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s harder than you think. One Touch Drawing offers over 200 levels for you to test your visual-puzzle-solving mettle, some which will truly lodge a wrench in your brain. As you progress, new concepts emerge – such as some lines having to be tread twice while drawing the picture.
You might be wondering what this game has to do with brain improvement. Sure, it might not help with memory or mental math, but it does help with thinking outside of the box. It forces you to use those problem-solving parts of the brain – the parts that you don’t frequently exercise due to lack of opportunity.
The developers of Memory Trainer claim that this app has been scientifically proven to greatly improve one’s memory capabilities. I was a bit skeptical about that claim, but after having played around with it, I can believe it. It’s not hard to see that this game was perfectly designed to trigger and exercise various memory-related skills.
Memory Trainer is broken up into Sessions and each session has three Workouts. These workouts are designed to target different types of memory: pattern recognition, chunking, procedural recall, image matching, and even straight up memorization of words and numbers. Each session is randomized, takes no more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete, and you can benefit even if you only practice one session a day.
Check out Saikat’s article if you’re looking for more Android apps designed to train memory.
Mind Games is a training game that’s designed to keep your brain from succumbing to the deterioration of age. It comes packaged with 17 of Mindware’s brain exercise games, all of which are not only fun but challenging. When you start Mind Games, you first input your age, and the games difficulties are adjusted to match your age.
The 17 different game types cover a wide range of mental skills: facial recognition, short-term memory, long-term memory, spatial memory, word memory, etc. The app comes with a manual scheduling feature so you can set reminders to play these games regularly. Doing so will drastically increase the strength of your brain’s memory functions.
One app that I thought was cool but didn’t deserve a full-blown recommendation: Unlock Your Brain, which forces you to solve math problems if you want to unlock your device. As you can see, with the right tools at your disposal, you can use your smartphone in a way that really helps your mental prowess. Whether you want to improve your brain’s capabilities or just prevent further deterioration, these apps will prove useful.
Do you use any brain-training apps on your Android device? Which ones do you like best? Please share with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Brain Via Shutterstock