We use our Windows Phone for a host of reasons. We check our email, we snap photos, we surf the internet and we pass the time with games, all from our Windows Phones. We can also learn a thing or two from our Windows Phone through any of the educational apps available in the Windows Phone Store.
Most will think of children's apps when the topic of educational apps comes up. There are plenty of apps in the Store that will appeal to our elder readers and that is the focus for this week's Windows Central Roundup. These apps touch on current, academic and historical events in a way to make it fun and easy to learn about the world around us.
You know the drill from here. If your favorite Windows Phone app that takes on an educational twist is not mentioned, toss out your recommendation below in the comments.
1. Discovery News
The Discovery News app is a Windows Phone app that delivers news articles, videos and photos. The focus of Discovery News is, as described in the Store, on explaining the world through a lens of curiosity. It was one of our Hidden Gems and is a great app to have to keep up with what is going on in the world and learn a little along the way.
The main pages of Discovery News cover featured news items, mind blowing news items, videos, a category breakdown of news articles and the Discovernator. Categories include Earth, Space, Tech, Animals, History, Human and Adventure.
The Discovernator is a factoid generator with an endless supply of amazing facts. You can learn that Hummingbirds are the only animal that can fly forwards and backward or that the human brain operates on 10 watts of power.
When you find an interesting story to dive into from the Discovery News main pages, you can pull up a feature length article on the subject. The article will often have a related gallery link that will send you to a series photos with narratives.
Stories are added daily and after surfing the Discovery News app for the past few days, it comes across as an informative Windows Phone app.
2. On This Day
On This Day is a Windows Phone app that delivers historical and educational facts much like a Word-a-Day calendar provides new words.
The Windows Phone app spreads things out nicely across a panoramic design. The layout covers events for the current date and includes pages that:
- Highlights key events that occurred on that date
- Notes events broken down by century
- Highlights key births that occurred on that date
- Highlights key deaths that occurred on that date
- Lists any holidays occurring on the date
The listing of each event offers you an excellent snapshot on the event. If you would like to read more about the historical event, you can tap on the summary and the app will send you to the corresponding Wikipedia page.
Additional features for On This Day include the ability to jump to any day in history, an offline cache, support for portrait or landscape orientation and Live Tile support.
On This Day is a simple app that delivers a nice collection of historical tid-bits to your Windows Phone.
Trivia games are a great way to have a little fun while learning. QuizUp is a new trivia game for Windows Phone that has a boatload of trivia categories. You compete against other players online in a seven-question game. As you play, you earn bragging rights not only for that topic but also for your area.
You can randomly select your opponent and challenge your friends to a friendly game. Topics range from history to current events to entertainment. The categories can be rather broad (e.g. Kids and Family Movies) or narrow in subject matter (e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies). There is also a social network feature with QuizUp where you can follow other players and chat it up in between games.
Game play is laid out in multiple-choice fashion. You have a few seconds to read the question and four possible answers will appear. You will have ten seconds to choose a reply and the longer it takes, the fewer points you will earn if your guess is correct. The correct answer will be highlighted in green and any wrong response (yours or your opponents) will be highlighted in red. As you earn points during game play, you will climb up the experience ranks and claim profile titles along the way.
If you like trivia games, it is going to be tough to find a better game than QuizUp. I'm really impressed with the range of topics you can be tested on and it only takes a few minutes to play a trivia round. This helps make QuizUp an excellent choice of games when you only have a few minutes to waste. Just be warned, QuizUp is an addictive game and those few minutes can quickly turn into thirty.
We wrap things up with the official History Channel app. It may be the obvious choice of apps to learn about history from but a few restrictions and performance issues seem to hurt the appeal of this app.
The app has evolved considerably since the days of Windows Phone 7. Originally, this app was a location-based app that would pull up historical facts (the old History Here app) but today the History app is a Windows Phone portal to History Channel content.
The History app allows you to watch full episodes and clips from your favorite History Channel series such as Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Mountain Men. You can create customized watch lists of your favorite shows and view exclusive clips from the History Channel.
The content delivered by the History app can be entertaining and sneak in a few educational lessons along the way. The variety of series covers a wide range of interests where everyone should be able to find something with appeal.
There are a few restrictions with some content, which requires you to log into your cable provider. However, there is plenty of unrestricted content available. It should also be noted that streaming content is only available in the U.S., which really limits the appeal of this Windows Phone app.
The app does score a 2.5 Star rating in the Windows Phone Store, citing poor streaming quality as the main issue. We tested the app over the past few days and did not experience any issues with streaming. The app could use a little fine-tuning and expand its content to be available outside the U.S. but overall, I found the History app to be an entertaining way to learn a few things.