Whether you want to improve your memory for everyday life, school, or work, it’s kind of hard to know where to start. After all, memory is kind of mushy and not a traditional “hard skill” like coding. In general, I recommend outsourcing everything possible to your phone. Why not use your smart device to enhance your original smart device, your brain?
There are many apps out there that purport to beef up your memory skills, though research on whether they work has been spotty and conclusions about efficacy are pretty limited. One thing we do know is that they’re not going to magically cure major cognitive decline. Still, if a few puzzles a day help you feel better and get your gears going, it could be worth a download just to get that rush. Apps are just one of many ways to get a little brain boost, but below are some of the better ones out there.
Old reliable: Lumosity
Lumosity is the app that crops up most often when you’re looking for a tech tool to improve your memory and overall thinking power. Basic functionality is free, but to unlock all the features—and there are a lot of features—you’re looking at US$15 per month. You can pick a track to focus on, from memory to attention to processing speed, among others, and play games once a day to improve your skills. The app even allows you to track not only your own progress, but your progress against others, in case you’re into a more competitive element.
For customizable content: Elevate
Elevate advertises itself as “your personal brain trainer” and makes good on that by making its content pretty customizable. You take a pre-test to determine your skill levels in reading, writing, speaking, and math, then get an “Elevate Proficiency Quotient” to represent your proficiency. You can play three games per day for free, but there are over 40 games you can access if you pay US$4.99 per month. Some games can even be downloaded for offline use, so if you spend a lot of time on planes or subways, you can use your commutes to your (brain’s) advantage.
To compete with friends: CogniFit Brain Fitness
CogniFit makes a big deal of its games being designed by neuroscientists and its product being “trusted by doctors.” That’s great. But you know what’s also great? Beating your friends at stuff. CogniFit allows you to compete against other people (and has nearly 5 million users already), plus get detailed insights into your own cognitive strengths and weaknesses, from contextual memory to hand-eye coordination. You can play four games for free, but beyond that you’ll have to pony up US$13 per month.
To spend no money: Brain Games
If you want to improve your cognitive skills without taking a toll on your wallet, consider Brain Games, which is ad-supported and doesn’t even ask you to create an account when you download it. It’s only available on Android, but it features enough games and features that you can complete three tasks a day for a month. The levels get harder as you go and you can even compete against other users.
To remember specific things: Eidetic
The other apps on this list are for enhancing your memory overall, but why not practice that with things you actually need to remember? Enter Eidetic, which uses spaced repetition to help you remember anything from account numbers to long quotes. The app takes care of the “spaced” part of the repetition for you, sending you push alerts whenever it’s time to review. It’s also free!
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