It’s no secret that nerds of all varieties have a safe haven in the App Store. While much attention has been given to the glamorous nerd kingdoms of comic books and science fiction, the more practical skill set of knowing how to manipulate figures, make wise investment choices, and plot coordinates on a chart has not yet had its day in the sun. For that reason, here are a bunch of great apps that will appeal to number nerds and finance geeks.
Wolfram Algebra Course Assistant
Wolfram Algebra Course Assistant is a novel and unbelievably useful approach to learning algebra. Instead of trudging through countless examples and staring blankly at your notebook, the Algebra Course Assistant will solve any equation you toss its way, then walk you through the solution, step by step. It’s no surprise this app comes from the same company that brought us Wolfram Alpha, the computational knowledge database that brilliantly answers questions posed in casual English. Students be warned, however: this app needs internet access to work, so don’t expect to lean on it too heavily during that math test.
Mint Personal Finance
For those of us without the budget for a personal finance manager, Mint has long been a godsend. After the user uploads all available bank accounts, assets, loans, etc., Mint automatically goes to work. The site will generate a budget and all kinds of cool graphics to represent your earnings and purchase history. Even better, Mint will let you know what you should do to pay down loans and improve your credit score. Best of all, all the sleek functionality of Mint is now available, for free, in the form of an awesome iPhone app.
Quick Graph: Your Scientific Graphing Calculator
Not long ago, high school students were expected to buy clunky graphing calculators that were difficult to use, ugly as sin, and more expensive than the single-purpose technology could reasonably justify. Today’s students have it a lot better thanks in part to amazing apps like Quick Graph. Quick Graph is a gorgeous, polished graphing calculator app that can map both 2D and 3D equations in full color. It’s a free download, loaded with a library of the most commonly used functions. Advanced users in need of niche features like “3D implicit graphs” can upgrade for only two bucks more.
Even finance geeks will often shudder at the thought of having to churn out the yearly taxes. TurboTax SnapTax is a tax filing app that sounds too good to be true: snap a photo of your W-2 with your iPhone camera, answer a few questions, and then file electronically—right from your phone. Taxes have never been easier and less infuriating. There are caveats, of course. TurboTax SnapTax can only file the 1040-EZ type form, which means you can’t have dependents, real estate ownership, etc. Also, the Federal + State filing package costs $14.99, for a service that is free elsewhere. All the same, you can’t argue with the ease or convenience.
Geeks of all stripes are already familiar with the award-winning web comic, xkcd, which famously gives a humorous spin to “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Comic creator Randall Munroe has generously allowed iOS developers to use a public API, meaning there are lots of great ways to download and view xkcd strips on your iPhone. The simply titled xkcd by Josh Snyder is the best app of the lot. It features a simple, ad-free interface, the ability to download strips in advance, and even a way to view the “alt text” Munroe embeds in each strip as an Easter egg. What’s more, it’s free of charge.
The iPhone comes with a native, built-in stock tracking app, but much like Apple’s “Notes” app, it has been surpassed in quality and popularity by scores of free alternatives. The Bloomberg app seems to be the de facto winner for financial news enthusiasts. Bloomberg offers news, stock quotes, company profiles, and leading analysis, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Another benefit is that Bloomberg is customizable. Add your own list of favorite stocks, and track how they do with the aid of attractive charts and graphs. It’s worth noting that premium features require a subscription to the Bloomberg Anywhere service.
Certain types of nerds will be quick to point out that sudoku is actually a type of logic puzzle, not a math puzzle. I say: who cares! Numbers are numbers, and this list is about numbers. Sudoku puzzles belong here because they are deceptively simple and really hard to put down. Plus, SUDOKU by Electronic Arts is arguably the best sudoku app of the lot. It has tons of puzzles, a gorgeous interface, and easy annotating and hint features for when you’re stuck. Best of all, after a recent price drop this game is available for only a buck.