MathStudio

Overview

As promised, here is a short review about MathStudio, a math software available for IPhones, the IPad, Windows and Android. You want to look at their web page or the gallery to get an impression what this software can do. To summarize my review, it is a great software with some problems in user friendliness and support.

I only tested the Android version, on a tablet (Asus Transformer with Android 3.1), and on a phone (HTC Desire with Android 2.3). Since Android tablets are a very sparse minority, I mainly refer to the phone version. It should be said that the tablet interfaces is very clean and nicely done.

The phone GUI is more condensed, but also very nicely done. It is about the best you can do on a phone of that screen size. I do especially appreciate the design, maybe a heritage of the IPhone version, where good design is omnipresent.

The keyboard can be dragged to the left right, up and down, and makes room for other keyboards. The black button line above it can also be dragged to the left or right. The area above the keyboard can be dragged up and down and contains a list of commands and results. Old commands are editable. On top is a tab menu to switch between the main window, a catalog of functions, an options menu, and a search window.

So what is this software good for? You can do the following.

  • Use it as a pocket calculator to quickly evaluate mathematical expressions. MathStudio comes with lots of advanced functions, including functions, which only a mathematician would know.
  • Plot 2D and 3D graphics with it. The plot makes use of OpenGL, which runs very smoothly and fast on my two Android systems. The plots look nice, and there are some configuration options for colors and line style. There are several kinds of plots, including polar and parametric plots.
  • Do symbolic math. It is obvious for me that the program uses the Yacas engine. The web site does not mention Yacas, however. The symbolic capabilities are limited compared to full algebra system like Maxima.
  • You can write scripts, which are mainly own functions. You can use control structures and loops.

This should be more than enough for most users. It is by far the most complete system short of using Wolfram Alpha over the net.

Screenshots

To add some screenshots, here is the main window with two plots, one 2D and the other 3D.

To generate the plots, you simply enter the equations and press „Plot“. Double tapping on a plot opens a full window with an OpenGL plot, which can be turned very smoothly. Double tabbing again goes back to the main window.

In the following screenshot, you can see another keyboard. There are also some algebraic computations.

The options window looks like this.

User Assistance

There are some very well done tutorials, which I recommend to get a feeling for the program. Otherwise, you might feel completely lost. The interface is by far  not intuitive enough to be self explaining.

There is also a „manual“ on the web page of MathStudio, which is mainly a list of functions. You can download this manual as a PDF file.

Problems

I think the programmers should have paid more attention to user help. While there is a list of functions, there is no description available within the program. You have to go to the web page, or download and read through the PDF version of the web page. I could not find any description of the GUI, which as I said is not self explaining.

The web page does not have a phone version. This is funny since the program is marketed for Android and IPhones. You have to be contempt with the following design, and wipe left and right to find your way.

The search function within the program did not work, and only shows a list of recently added commands. I am not sure if it is supposed to open a keyboard, though it looks so.

The keyboard is not as easy to use as it looks, though best intentions are visible. There are no cursors, and I thank my HTC desire for the hardware cursor it still has. You will have to navigate through the command line often, and even with the navigation arrow on new devices this is not so easy. Moreover, the backspace key does not repeat, which is a nuisance if you have to delete a word. The brackets always produce () with the cursor between the brackets. This is useful, unless you need only one bracket. Together with the missing cursor, it becomes cumbersome.

I tried to contact the developers and asked about some of the problems I found. They replied and asked me to bury my complaints in the forum. Let us see, if any improvement materializes. The last two updates did not address my problems.

Summary

All in all, this is a good start. The program definitely needs better user assistance. For this review I did not demonstrate how to do a specific problem. I will do that in a later blog posting, and compare MathStudio with other systems.

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