Homework app Socratic launches group chat feature to help answer your questions

The days when students have to flip through textbooks to find solutions to homework problems may soon be coming to an end. Rather, they will be taking pictures with their smartphones to feed problems into an artificially intelligent app if Socratic has its way.

Socratic is an education-focused startup and it offers a service quite similar to Quora — a space where students can ask questions and receive answers from their peers or just about anyone. Of course, these questions are particular to specific subjects such as science, math, social sciences, and the humanities. The company has had an app called Homework Genius in stealth mode for about a year and it’s finally ready for the student masses.

Renamed after the company, Socratic is an app that claims to help you with your homework thanks to the help of artificial intelligence. Simply snap a picture of your word problem, give the app a few seconds to analyze it, and you will be reading about the proper way to solve it.

The app doesn’t exactly offer answers, instead, you get an explainer that dives into the concept, problem, and teaches students how to solve it. The beta app involved teachers, students, and more than 150,000 users — and Socratic used it to collect “millions of photos of real homework questions” to make the AI engine more powerful.

The app is well-designed and slick, and results are presented in the form of vertical cards. The first is the explainer, and the rest will be anything else the AI can scrounge up about the problem — videos, definitions, and web results. Much of the “explainer” content has been developed by the Socratic community, and as the app has grown up and grown its user base, so too have the number of subjects it can help you with.

In its most recent update, Socratic introduced a study group feature. Similar to group chats — users can create groups around specific classes, get homework done together, and share class notes — without having to switch out of the app. It’s also designed to closely resemble Snapchat, since teens are already comfortable using this specific interface on a daily basis.

When students create groups around a class, they are discoverable by anyone else who is in the class too — except for the teacher. Users can also see who is currently online on the app as well. If they want to invite more classmates, they can now do so via apps such as Messenger and Kik.

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Update: Socratic adds a new social feature.