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There’s an app for that

Tinycards aren’t the flash cards you remember

For many of us, some of our earliest memories (the alphabet, the names of colors, what the doggie says) were forged by flash cards. As educational methodologies go, they couldn’t be simpler; and when something is so simple, it doesn’t quite cry out for reinvention.

But just in time for the Internet’s assault on our short-term memories, Tinycards have arrived — and it’s the update to flash cards that none of us knew we needed. Tinycards is a new app from language-learning platform Duolingo that features hundreds of virtual decks of flash cards covering a wide range of (adorably illustrated) subjects. This morning I brushed up on the pantheon of Greek gods, attempted to learn some Chinese numbers, and now I’m working my way through bones of the human skeleton.


You can use Tinycards’ own decks (which cover topics in science, language, history, and geography), or you can select from “trending” decks submitted by other users, or you can make your own decks to prep for that big test (or family reunion) you have coming up.

PRO Tinycards effectively gamifies the task of memorization, and its user experience feels a bit like Tinder for trivia. Each deck pushes you to memorize items visually, verbally, and comparatively, which actually makes the information much stickier — at least, more so than average index cards.

CON For now, the app’s native library of decks is kind of skimpy; and the vast wealth of user-generated decks can be uneven in terms of quality and usefulness. And while Tinyapps can help you recall the capital of Albania (Tirana, duh), it can’t help you remember where you left your phone — so maybe write out a backup deck just in case.


Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.