Thanks to interactive learning methods, smartphones can turn even the dullest subjects into enjoyable and informative experiences.
History is typically a course that doesn’t attract excitement from many. But with the right apps, you can overcome its monotonous image and maybe even have some fun. Here are seven apps for people wanting to learn more about history.
1. The History Channel
The History Channel is home to many famous documentaries and television shows, and they’re always creating and curating new content. If you pay for cable through a TV provider—DirecTV Stream, AT&T U-verse, Cox, Dish, Frontier, and so on—then you can access all content on The History Channel mobile app for free.
If you don’t have a cable subscription, don’t worry! There’s still a ton of free content on the app to entertain and educate you. When you select a show to see more details, you’ll see two buttons—All and Unlocked—you can use to filter locked and free content. You can learn about historical places, tools, people, and so much more through The History Channel.
2. Historical Calendar / Today In History
Historical Calendar tells you what happened on a particular day (throughout both ancient and modern-day history) in chronological order. By default, the app shows events from the current day’s date, but you can manually switch dates if you’d like to.
You can also look up keywords for locating specific moments. The app divides the data into categories like events, births, deaths, holidays, and so on. To make things more interesting, almost everything has a picture to go along with the historical snippet of info.
Historical Calendar has options for copying, sharing, and even exporting excerpts so you can save the info for later or enlighten friends and family. Once you’re done educating yourself, you can test your knowledge by heading into the Quiz tab.
Historical Calendar is only available for Android, but a similar app titled Today In History is a good alternative for iOS users.
Download: Historical Calendar for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: Today In History Lite Edition for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
3. History Timeline
If you’d like a platform that focuses more on historical dates over anything else, try History Timeline. It puts all sorts of important events in a scrollable, dense timeline. You can zoom in to see more detailed info, zoom out if you prefer a more broad view of events, and tap individual entries to read even more about them. History Timeline attaches Wikipedia links if you want to read further.
You can also favorite articles that you’ve enjoyed and save them for later. Then, History Timeline has a handy custom filter feature that lets you can configure specific periods and jump straight to your preferred historical time in seconds.
History Timeline is only available for Android at this time.
Download: History Timeline for Android (Free)
4. Google Arts & Culture
Learn more about the world’s most renowned artists with Google’s Art & Culture app. The app illustrates stories behind historically popular artwork and the artist’s cultural accomplishments. You can curate your favorite pieces of artwork and even take a virtual tour of some famous museums and cultural sites.
In the Nearby tab, the app shows you cultural history from your current location, so you can learn more about your hometown or a new city you’re visiting. Then, for a bit of fun, the app has a fun tool called Art Selfie that lets you find your lookalike from the past.
5. History Today
The app for the magazine History Today houses digital versions of every issue ever released by the company, with each one full of well-researched and interesting content. You can find stories on topics like Tutankhamun, the succession of monarchs, democracy in Brazil, Eleanor Roosevelt, Kennedy and Churchill, and the Antikythera Mechanism.
Each magazine has been formatted specially for digital devices, like a smartphone or a tablet, so that it’s easy to read wherever you are.
While you can download the History Today app for free, you’ll have to pay for individual magazine issues that you want to read. Each individual magazine is usually $4.99, or you can purchase a monthly subscription for $3.99 or a yearly subscription for $44.99. Or, if you already have a print subscription to History Today, you can view the magazine issues in the app for free.
6. History Tours on Google Earth
Virtual tours through Google Earth let you visit several locations throughout the world where a particular historical event took place. You can walk through each event step-by-step and read up on all the details as you proceed.
For instance, a virtual tour titled “In Mandela’s Footsteps” walks you through the life of the legendary political leader and former president of South Africa on the road to freedom. The series highlights places that played a critical role in Mandela’s life, like the University of Fort Hare—one of the first universities to allow non-white people to study—as well as Johannesburg’s Crown Mines, where he worked as a night watchman.
These virtual tours are available under the Voyager tab in the app’s left navigation drawer. Inside this, head over to the History section. You can find guided tours from BBC Earth, NASA, National Geographic, and more.
7. History Quiz
The History Quiz app is a fun way to test your knowledge once you’ve read up on quite a bit.
When you first open the app, you’ll see a slew of categories to choose from. If you want to quiz yourself on a specific topic, you can select a category like Archeology, Civilizations, the Vietnam War, or Space Exploration. Or, you can test your smarts in broader areas, like General Knowledge or Famous Dates.
You have one minute to answer each question, selecting the correct answer from four choices. Whether you get the question right or wrong, you’ll see an interesting related fact. If you get a question wrong, you lose a “heart,” or a life, which regenerates every half hour. While playing, you earn coins you can spend on hints when you’re stumped, or get extra time on a question.
History Quiz is only available on Android devices, but there’s an equivalent app for iOS devices titled World History Quiz.
Download: History Quiz for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: World History Quiz for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Learning History Is Pretty Fun
With these apps, you’re certain to have an endless supply of historical facts and stories. Some apps—like Google Earth—go the extra mile to make the past truly come alive. Other apps simply take a unique approach to familiar subjects, making the process of learning history more engaging and attention-grabbing.