Free App Friday: 5 Tools For A Smarter You

Padding your intelligence doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Apps make it easy. Fun, even!


They say a shark must always keep moving, lest he die. The same could be said for your brain, though saying so would be mighty hyperbolic–and the media isn’t known for hyperbole, am I right?


At any rate, it wouldn’t kill you to at least feed that cranium of yours every now and again. Here are a handful of high-quality free apps to keep those neurons firing.

1. If You Sometimes Feel Like Your Brain Is Buffering

Get things moving with Elevate (Android, iOS). The app whips your noodle into shape via a series of game-like endeavors meant to sharpen your focus, memory, and ability to push air out of your mouth so that the words formed by such an undertaking make sense–and perhaps even sound intelligent–to human beings within earshot of you. If you’re like me, you’ll get sucked in and your temples will feel like they’re throbbing whenever you’re in the middle of one of the exercises. It’s almost like your brain is breathing heavily from all the exercise.

2. If Plain English Has Gotten Plain Boring

Duolingo (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) is worth a look. This is not your eighth-grade French class. For starters, it’s heavily gamified. You lose hearts when you get answers wrong; lose all four hearts and you die, which means you have to start your current lesson over again. Lessons start on the simple side: you’re given a word in English and you’re to select a photo of it alongside its other-language equivalent, for example. There are some basic translation exercises as well. Dig your heels in, and things get more challenging–although never overly tedious. You’ll learn a new language–there are nine to choose from–without really “studying” it.

3. If You Want to Learn How the Digital Sausage Is Made

Check out Udacity (Android, iOS). Why? Because it’s looking like this whole “Internet” fad might…just…catch…on. In case it does, make sure you know how to write code. You don’t have to completely nerd out about it, but a basic understanding of how web pages work never hurt anyone. Udacity can get you started with video lectures, quizzes, and hands-on coding exercises from “New To Tech” to “Advanced” levels. You can zoom out a bit and take courses related to general computer science, technology business and theoretical concepts as well.

4. If you like correcting people early and often

Get on board with Trivia Crack (Android, iOS, Windows Phone). While several get-smarter apps attempt to make you feel like you’re playing a game, this one’s an actual game. But–but!–you’ll soak up a bunch of random trivia facts while you’re playing. It’s very similar to the Trivial Pursuit we all know and love, except every spin lands you on a potential pie piece, basically. Play against your friends or get paired up with random users from around the globe. Answer a question in each category correctly–Art, Entertainment, Geography, History, Science, or Sports–and you win.

5. If your mouth hole done don’t make no words good

It’s time to load up GRE Vocabulary Builder (Android, iOS). Sure, if you’re not going to grad school, you’re probably not planning on taking the GRE. But the GRE is chockablock with high-level vocab words–words you can lord over your simpleton friends during arguments. Or they can just be words you use to broaden your vocabulary in order to make yourself a more well-rounded person. Up to you. This app does one thing and it does it well: it presents you with a word and a handful of potential answers. Pick the right one and you’ll get a more robust definition of the word before moving on to the next one. Estimable!