11 Handy and Interesting Science Apps for Smartphones

If you are looking to make your smart device a little bit smarter why not download some of these science apps for smartphones.
Christopher McFadden
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If you are science-junky or are looking for a way to conduct research of your own, you might want to consider some of these great science apps for smartphones. 

This hand-picked selection of the plethora of great science apps ranges from wonderfully illustrated reference guides to fully-fledged research aiding apps for real-world scientific applications.

1. Earth Viewer/Biome Viewer lets you explore the Earth's history

Developer: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: These great apps let you explore the history of Earth on your mobile device

science apps for smartphones biome
Source: Google Play

Whilst primarily developed for use on tablets, this app is a very powerful educational tool. Ostensibly similar to Google Earth, this app actually helps you explore the distant past, present, and future of our planet.

Users are given the ability to explore, using interactive maps, the movements of the Earth's continents over time. You can even locate and track cities, and other landmarks, as their geographic location changs over the eons.

Interestingly, you can even watch where they are predicted to move in the future if current continental drift trends continue. There is also a great in-depth feature that explores some major events and eras in our planet's history, with clickable details for more information.

2. Starwalk/Starwalk 2 is your guide to the heavens

Developer: Vito Technology

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: This app is great for anyone interested in the heavens

science apps for smartphones Starwalk
Source: Google Play

If you love astronomy but don't have your telescope or reference guides to hand, Starwalk is the app is for you. 

The app uses your phone's sensors to figure out your location and, therefore, helps you find any celestial bodies in your field of view.

Not only does it help you figure out what that random bright dot is but it will provide you with some information about it. You can even track the ISS across the sky.

The app isn't free but for only a couple of bucks, you get a wealth of information at your fingertips. This is a handy app to ignite a passion for astronomy or add some science-related conversation starter to an evening's soiree.

3. Help save lives with MyShake

Developer: UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory

Available on: Android

Why you should choose this app: Help conduct research with UC Berkeley's MyShake

science apps for smartphones MyShake
Source: Google Play

MyShake has been developed by researchers at the University of California. They want to use your smartphone to help them build a global picture of seismic activity.


The app makes use of your phone's sensors to gather the data it needs and add it to their database. Don't worry, it won't hog all of your RAM, and besides it's for a good cause - it could save lives!

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By getting global and local coverage with the application, the Berkeley Seismological Department hope to improve their models of earthquake activity and, more importantly, improve their predictive models.

The app is simple as pie to use and runs in the background so you won't really notice it chugging away. But, this seems a little one-sided, what do you get out of it?

Well, the app also has a lot of interesting information for you to peruse. You can, for example, see in real-time, all current seismic activity where you are and across the globe.

It also provides guides on what to do if you find yourself caught short in the event of an earthquake at your location.

4. Stephen Hawking's Pocket Universe is just that

Developer: Random House

Available on: iOS

Why you should choose this app: If you like Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time you need this app

science apps for smartphones Hawkings
Source: App Store

Officially the digital companion to Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, this app is an absolute must for any science enthusiast. 

The app explores the late, great, Stephen Hawking's contributions to physics and helps you delve deeper into this sometimes weird and fascinating field. 

It comes in six beautifully illustrated sections and explores subjects as diverse as the Big Bang, Black Holes, and the Expanding Universe. Just like his seminal book, this app helps break down these subjects into easy to understand terms and comes with a useful glossary if you do get stuck.

You also get a catalog of anecdotal references from Hawking and updates on recent scientific breakthroughs since the book's release.

5. AcceleratAR lets you build an AR particle accelerator

Developer: Chris Edmonds

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: This app lets you build your own AR Particle Accelerator in your front room

science apps for smartphones acceleratAR
Source: Google Play

If you've ever wanted to build your own Particle Accelerator but don't have the room, why not make a virtual one? This app will let you do just that in the comfort of your own home.

Using Augmented Reality, you can use your phone's camera to construct a rudimentary particle accelerator on top of the physical world around you. Whilst it won't put the Large Hadron Collider out of business anytime soon, this app is both fun and educational.

It will guide you through the whole process and help you learn about the technology behind real ones as you go.

6. Science Journal turns your phone into a lab

Developer: Google

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: Google's Science Journal will make you an amateur scientist in no time


science apps for smartphones Journal
Source: Google Play

Developed by Google, Science Journal literally turns your phone into a piece of scientific apparatus. It makes use of your phone's sensors to record data on things around you.

You can use it to take light, sound, pressure and motion readings, for example. It can also connect with external sensors over Bluetooth to further enhance its capabilities.

Any and all observations you make can also be supplemented with notes and photographs if needed. It is well designed and intuitive to use, not to mention fun and interesting.

Data collection can either be collated manually or you can set it to automatically gather it. It can save everything for you too so you can revisit or export it later.

7. Ultimate Dinopedia is every dinosaur lovers dream

Developer: National Geographic

Available on: iOS

Why you should choose this app: Dinopedia is your complete mobile Dinosaur reference guide

science apps for smartphones Dinopedia
Source: App Store

Developed by National Geographic, Ultimate Dinopedia might just be the best Dinosaur reference app going. It is based on National Geographic's book of the same name and doesn't disappoint.

The reference guide is fully, and beautifully illustrated, and contains entries for more than 700 discovered Dinosaur species. As you'd expect, each entry is packed full of relevant information and facts.

It also has information on other aspects of "Dinosaur-ology", from hatchlings to migration patterns and, of course, their final extinction. This is quite literally the perfect app for any Dinosaur lover out there.

It is not free, but at 5 bucks we are sure you can forgo a few takeaway coffees to add this to your mobile device. The sacrifice will pay you dividends.

8. The official NASA app is awesome

Developer: NASA

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: Simply called NASA, this app will keep you up to date on the latest 'toings' and 'froings' at the space agency

science apps for smartphones NASA
Source: Google Play

NASA's official app is available on both iOS and Android and is, thankfully, completely free. This app has been specially built to keep interested parties up to date with the latest news, features, and images from the space agency.

All users are provided with regular updates on their current ongoing missions and well as any news of future developments. You can watch video on demand mini docus and stream NASA TV as well as check out a schedule of the latest launches and countdown clocks,

As you'd expect, the photo collections are stunning and you can save your favorite images and footage to watch later or use as wallpapers on your mobile device. Frankly, this app is a must for anyone interested in space exploration.

9. BrainPOP's official app is great

Developer: BrainPOP

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: This app is a great science resource for young adults

science apps for smartphones BrainPOP
Source: Google Play

BrainPOP has become one of the educational giants of the internet. Their official website is a literal treasure trove of educational videos that cover a wide range of subjects.

Whilst their content is aimed at K-12 students (9-12 yrs) it can be enjoyed, and consumed, by children of all ages. Now with their Featured Movie app, children can be brought straight to a smartphone or tablet.

The app features a selection of free to watch videos as well as daily featured new content and quizzes to make sure they are paying attention.

The free version is limited in its content but you can unlock more by subscribing to their premium version.

10. Complete Anatomy is a great resource tool

Developer: 3D4Medical.com

Available on: Android and iOS

Why you should choose this app: This is probably one of the best mobile resources for medical students and professionals

science apps for smartphones anatomy
Source: Google Play

Complete Anatomy is a great anatomical reference app for medical students, teachers and even doctors. It is packed full of 3D rendered graphics of the human body.

Users can explore, in great detail, much of the human body and its systems supported by in-depth information and search functions. Every part of the body can be exploded to easily see how everything fits together and works.

It comes with a cloud-based backend that lets users save information of interest as well as share it if desired.

The free version is limited to certain systems like the skeleton but you can get access to the full package for as little as $5.

11. Molecules lets you 'play God'

Developer: Sunset Lake Software

Available on: iOS

Why you should choose this app: Molecules lets you view and manipulate 3-D models of molecules

science apps for smartphones Molecules
Source: App Store

Molecules let you view and manipulate 3-D models of molecules with just the flick of your finger. This app lets you rotate, zoom in and out, and pan each model with ease.

You can even switch between ball-and-stick and space-filling visualization modes. Molecules can be downloaded from the RSB Protein Data Bank or NCBI's PubChem public database of compounds.

If you want to 'play god' you can also build your own custom molecules and share them via iTunes file sharing function or through custom URL formats.

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