Today marks the end of excuses for shabby mental arithmetic Worldwide. No more excuses (if you have an iOS device) not to know of the top of your head what 12×9 is. Today, Alastair Cooke and I are launching twin Apps Total Tables and Turtle Tables (use these links to Download, or search the names in the App Store), a pair of Mental Arithmetic games, much acclaimed by Maths Academics:
As an academic myself, I constantly see students entering all ranges of degree with very poor Mental Arithmetic Skills. Total Tables is a very encouraging step forward in terms of making it faster, easier and more entertaining for both students and non-academic folk to get up to scratch on both their Twelve Times Tables and their technique for non-trivial Multiplication. Great app all round – I prefer the Turtle version myself! – Ashley, Maths Academic
Sitting on the train back to University at the beginning of January, I decided to spend the time getting my brain back into gear for more complex mathematics, so I went on the App Store in search of some mental arithmetic puzzles. Alas, the quality of what was there was abysmal! Some games asked the same questions over and over again, whilst others thought the easy-to-use, beautiful, familiar keyboard built into iOS wasn’t good enough for their App and so came up with their own version with smaller touch targets and in one case reverse ordering of the buttons. That evening, I gave Alastair a call and we discussed the possibility of creating a simple, easy to use, and most importantly, fun, app for people to practise their mental arithmetic on (initially, their times tables).
Total Tables and Turtle Tables
Total Tables does just this. With a Standard Mode, featuring games of 10 randomly generated questions up to 12×12, players can race anyone around the world for the crown of ‘Fastest Time Table Guru’, and with the Difficult Mode, players can practise their mental long multiplication technique with 10 questions that get progressively harder up until 100×100. Total Tables is designed to be highly educational, great for the brain, fantastic fun to play and extremely competitive.
Turtle Tables is our version for Kids. Want your Son or Daughter to get ahead with their times tables at School, or want to teach them long multiplication in advance? Download Turtle Tables, and they can have the same experience as with Total, with the addition of some wonderful, playful, animated sea creatures.
Design and Future
Determining what Total Tables should be was incredibly difficult. How many levels of difficulty should we have? How should we support both children and adults? How could we encourage competitiveness, whilst focussing laser-like on the goal of education? Steve Jobs said that “Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things”. We may only have said no to a few hundred things, but to say no to just one more thing would have been to change the essence and ideal of Total Tables. We truly believe that there is not a single detail in Total Tables that doesn’t need to be there, not a single detail that draws your attention away from the content, and that every detail we included enhances the sense of connection between the user and the questions.
After months of evenings work and a lot of going back to notes I took during my Human Computer Interaction course, we think Total Tables encompasses everything necessary and no more, for a great experience whilst learning and practising your times tables. We hope you enjoy using it, and we look forward to creating future versions testing other types of mental arithmetic based on our current design.