10 apps to help you learn something new

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They say school is where you get to explore all of your passions and curiosities. BS. More like your phone … or the internet, in general.

Good thing is, nowadays, a quick search on YouTube yields thousands of tutorials for whatever perks your interest; a few scrolls on Instagram, and you’ll find a number of fitness instructions and recipes. The point is, there’s an app for everything — yes, even for the passions and curiosities you neglected.

Below are 10 apps that can help you learn something new.

1. Masterclass

Want to learn acting from Samuel L. Jackson? Masterclass has your back. Ballet with Misty Copeland; tennis with Serena Williams; conservation with Jane Goodall? Check, check, and check! Masterclass offers more than 70 classes with professionals from a range of different fields. And we’re talking about some seriously high-caliber professionals: Anna Wintour, Simone Biles, Malcolm Gladwell, Shonda Rhimes, and more.
On average, each class offers 24 video lessons. These come with a downloadable workbook which includes supplemental learning materials, lesson recaps, assignments, and insights from the professional instructor.

Masterclass is free on the App Store and Google Play, but the classes themselves are pretty expensive. It’s $89.99 for a class or $179.99 for a one-year all-access pass. Guess that’s just the price you pay to learn basketball from Steph Curry.

2. Headspace

Meditation has become one of the most popular wellness trends in the past few years — probably for a good reason. Research has shown that it improves concentration and attention, and relieves symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. If you’ve been meaning to start meditating, Headspace is a good place to start.

Headspace is your pocket guide to meditation. It offers exercises backed by clinical research from reputable mindfulness experts. Each exercise is led by a soothing voice that tells you to breathe and pay attention to your surroundings. Want to focus on your personal growth? Then check out exercises that foster kindness and generosity. Need help with stress and anxiety? There are exercises that help you “navigate change,” “transform anger,” and “reframe loneliness.” The app also recommends meditation sessions based on your needs.

The app is available on the App Store and Google Play. You can start with a free two-week trial. After that, you have the option to take a course that walks you through meditation fundamentals for free. Or, you can always subscribe for $12.99/month or $69.99/year to unlock a wide range of practices.

3. Anchor

Podcasts are having a moment and Anchor is the app to download if you’re considering joining the podcast production craze. It’s a tool that lets you record, edit, and publish podcasts. But it’s also a tool that teaches you the ins and outs of production.

Anchor offers podcasts (ha!) that guide you through both the conceptual and technical aspects of podcasting: narrowing down on a topic, choosing the right equipment, structuring the show, etc. Once you’re done learning, recording, and editing, Anchor will host and distribute your podcast for free. It even offers analytical tools for traffic-tracking and opportunities for monetizing your podcast.

Anchor is completely free to use — with no strings attached, at least for now. All you have to do is download it from the App Store or Google Play.

4. Mimo

Learning a coding language is like learning a foreign language. You’ll need a solid grasp on basic vocabulary and syntax before you can let your creativity flow. Mimo helps you learn those things in digestible, bite-sized exercises, and project-based lessons that allow you to see results in real time.

It offers lessons for a host of coding languages, ranging from those used in mobile and web development (e.g., HTML, CSS, Swift, etc.)  to those for programming and data science (e.g., C++, C#, Python, etc.). It also offers modules to increase your literacy on topics like AI, blockchain, browser tracking, API, etc. Once you feel ready, Mimo’s code playground will allow you to experiment with codes of your own. It will run them for you, too.

Mimo is available on the App Store and Google Play. Some lessons you get for free, but most will only be available once you subscribe for $9.99/month or $59.99/year after your seven-day free trial.

5. Yousician

So you’ve mastered Guitar Hero, now what? Consider taking your skills to the next level by learning to play an actual guitar with Yousician. You can also learn the ukulele, the bass, the piano, and singing with the app.

Be aware: You’ll need an actual instrument for the app to work properly. But once you have that down, Yousician will walk you through the basics with demo videos and interactive animated lessons that provide feedback based on the sounds your instrument makes. It will even teach you to play your favorite hit songs with step-by-step tutorials. The catch? Depending on the song, you might have to upgrade to premium plus.

Yousician is available for free on the App Store and Google Play. You get one lesson — or about 10 minutes of feedback time — for free daily. You’ll have to upgrade to premium plus, which starts at $14.99/month, for unlimited lesson time, though.

6. Stone

Crystal healing is like a sister to astrology — they’re both rooted in the belief of some mysterious force of nature. Some call it superstition, others say it’s a great resource for spiritual guidance and emotional support. Well, either way, Stone is here to offer knowledge about crystals.

The app is essentially a glossary of healing crystals and the layout is simple and intuitive. It shows images of a kaleidoscope of healing crystals on one page. If you click on one of them, it’ll direct you to a page that explains the characteristics and suggested uses of said crystal. You can also search the glossary by crystal name or by mood.

Stone is free, but it’s only on the App Store (sorry, Android users). It also doesn’t offer any in-app purchases, so don’t worry about having to pay for a subscription.

7. Investr

Imagine fantasy football, but for finance. That’s Investr, an app that offers educational modules on investments, business, economics, finance, etc. for anyone interested in learning about the stock market.

The app is great for hands-on learners: It offers $1 million (in pretend money, chill out!) to users to trade fantasy stocks based on real-time market developments. Start a private league with friends or put your best foot forward to win up to $500 in cash vouchers for finishing amongst the app’s top 10 users. If you’re up for it, you can even invest real money into stocks through the app with their brokerage partner DriveWealth.

All these features are available on the free Investr app, which you can get from the App Store and Google Play. You can also upgrade to premium for $3.99/month for extra fantasy trades, technical analysis charts, and more.

8. Sketch AR

Remember the copybooks that taught you to write your ABCs back in kindergarten? Sketch AR is kind of like that — only it’s smarter and is made for drawing.

You can learn to draw pretty much anything with the lessons the app offers. You can start with sketches of arms, face parts, and figures if you want to nail down the basics. Or, you can jump right into drawing portraits, animals, anime characters, food, plants, etc. Whatever it is — outlining the sketch, drawing guidelines, filling out the details — the app will walk you through the process step-by-step. All you have to do is trace the lines it displays. You can also trace images from the app’s library outside of lessons, though it doesn’t come with a handy guide.

In any case, you can either draw on-device with your finger, or on a piece of paper, a wall, or the floor using virtual trace marks from the app’s augmented reality feature. You can even pair AR glasses with the app for a seamless experience.

Sketch AR is free on the App Store, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store. But you’ll have to upgrade to the pro version for $4.99/month or $29.99/year if you want to access its step-by-step lesson bundles and most items in the library.

9. Seek

Apps get a bad rep for distracting people from the offline world, but Seek does the opposite. Created jointly by National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences, the app takes people outside and connects them with nature.

Point your camera at a plant or an animal while you’re in Seek, and the app will tell you its history, classification and seasonality. It will also show you a map of where it’s located near you. The more animals and plants you record on camera with the app, the more likely you are to complete challenges and earn badges.

The app is free on the App Store and Google Play. The best part? You don’t have to pay a penny extra to use all its features.

10. Duolingo

So you want to learn French, but the closest you’ve come to speaking it is when you had to say, “Pardon my French.” Duolingo can help you with that — and with 27 other languages. Their course offerings cover endangered languages like Navajo and Hawaiian; international languages like Esperanto; and even fictional languages like Klingon from Star Trek and High Valyrian from Game of Thrones.

The app takes a game-like approach to language learning. Users can lose “hearts” when they answer quiz questions incorrectly, but they can also earn virtual coins that refill them. It teaches vocabulary by using image cards and teaches grammar by asking users to translate languages in complete-the-sentence style.

Duolingo is available on the App Store, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store. You can learn any language for free for as long as you want, but the $9.99/month Duolingo Plus subscription will remove ads, allow offline learning, and offer progress quizzes.

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