Google's new math app solves nearly any problem with AI: Here's how to use it

Want a 24/7 math tutor? Need to check your kid's homework? Google's Photomath is here to help.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Google Photomath
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Stuck on a tricky math problem? Google's newest app will use AI to help you solve it. 

Two years ago, Google announced the purchase of a math problem-solving app called Photomath. And earlier this week, that app was officially brought under the company's app umbrella

Also: How ChatGPT (and other AI chatbots) can help you write an essay

The app itself isn't new, having debuted back in 2014 and picking up over 100 million downloads since. But it is now officially a Google app. It works on a wide range of math, from basic elementary school problems like division and multiplication to advanced math like trigonometry and calculus. 

Once a problem is scanned with the app, the AI starts working. After a few moments, an answer is displayed, along with step-by-step details of how the problem was solved. The latter part is likely the most useful part of this app. Not only is a solution given, but a student can also learn how to get that same answer on their own. 

While several other apps do the same thing, Photomath is often regarded by users as not only the most accurate but also the fastest. 

The app's camera can recognize both printed and handwritten problems and even shows multiple methods for problems that can be solved in different ways. And it works without needing a data or Wi-Fi connection, meaning parents can let their kids use it without worrying about them wandering off online.

Also: The best AI chatbots

If you're thinking that an app like this is nothing but a way for a student to rip through homework in record time, that's not all it's used for. While that certainly does happen, it has plenty of other uses -- a parent checking their kid's homework, a student practicing before a test or catching up on a missed class, or simply a 24/7 tutor. 

Since Google Lens already has a homework filter that's designed to solve problems, what's the need for Photomath? As AI becomes more and more present in the classroom, Google is likely just making sure it stays ahead of its competition. While nothing has been announced, there's a good chance Photomath will be integrated into Google Lens and even traditional Google search, making those features even more reliable.

Editorial standards