A Math App That Offers an Unusual Human Touch

Kenneth Chang:

Tabtor is an expensive iPad math-teaching app for kindergartners through sixth graders. Although free to download and try for two weeks, thereafter it costs $50 a month per child.

At first glance, Tabtor — the name is “tablet tutor” mashed together — does not look particularly different from the hundreds of other math offerings in Apple’s app store and the gazillion math-drill software programs on personal computers.

For each problem, there is space on the touch screen to scribble calculations with a finger or a stylus before punching in the answer on an on-screen keypad. A green check mark and a pleasing clanging sword sound greet a correct answer; a wrong one gets a red “X” and a less pleasing clang. There is a second chance to get the problem right.

So what does the $50 a month buy? Unlike any other math teaching app I’ve encountered, it comes with a human being.