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Apps Analysis

By Stefan Dubowski

Star Chart

Application icon for 'Star Chart' app. The icon is a silhouette of the planet Saturn on a blue background.

Transform your Android smartphone or tablet into a pocket-sized planetarium for access to more than 88 constellations and 120,000 stars. Hold it up to the sky (day or night) and watch the names and co-ordinates of the stars and planets illuminate your screen. Use the Time Shift feature to see an accurate depiction of the universe up to 10,000 years ago (or into the future). Turn your hand-held toward the ground to explore the nebulas, galaxies and other celestial bodies that are visible from the opposite side of the planet. Purchase Star Chart Infinite for built-in upgrades, including the ability to see satellites, comets, and meteor showers.

Device: Android
Source: Google Play; free to $10.69
Rating: Low Maturity


Application icon for 'Mathcubes' app. The icon is a cube with various math symbols on it.

Lay down a strong math foundation early with this multilingual app for ages 3 to 8. IOS users will literally and fi guratively grasp math’s building blocks as they arrange numeric cubes to solve addition and subtraction puzzles. Mathcubes adapts to the players’ abilities, zeroing in on their budding skills with more challenging problems as they progress along the way. The program reads questions and solutions aloud for those who prefer spoken instruction and offers an alternate set of exercises for students with learning difficulties. Mathcubes encourages education through experimentation and its colourful, retro design makes it fun to use

Device: Apple
Source: iTunes; 99¢
Rating: 4+

Voice Dream Reader

Application icon for 'Voice Dream Reader' app. The icon is of a human mouth.

Lighten your reading load with this Apple app that reads aloud everything from PDFs to websites. It’s equipped with 36 VoiceOver options in 24 languages, including French. And, if that’s not enough, 146 premium voices ($1.99 to $4.99 each) are available as in-app purchases. Customize voice and reading rates (50 to 700 words per minute) as you go; then use hand gestures or onscreen buttons to play and pause. It even remembers the settings you’ve selected for each file, so there’s no need to adjust them when you return. Don’t like the way the app says “tomato”? Adjust the software’s pronunciation dictionary with your own inflection.

Device: Apple
Source: iTunes; $9.99 and up
Rating: 4+