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Calculator app comes to iPad in iPadOS 18 as native iPhone app sees first major overhaul in years

2024 June 11
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It only took Apple nearly 15 years, but the iPad is finally getting a its first dedicated and native Calculator app pre-installed on it from the factory since its product unveiling by the late former Apple CEO Steve Jobs on January 27, 2010. Can you believe it? The sky must be falling…

A Calculator app for iPad

Calculator app for iPad

The Calculator app for iPad boasts a familiar interface to anyone who has ever used the iPhone version of the Calculator app before, however it obviously has a much larger user interface to take advantage of the larger screen real estate.

What is Apple doing with the extra screen real estate, you might ask? A good question. It seems they’ve made some serious improvements to the Calculator app to make it into a much more advanced problem-solving tool.

While users can obviously tap on number keys to punch in numbers like they always could, the extra canvas space makes it a lot easier to take advantage of the standard and scientific calculator interfaces without any additional user input.

More than this, the entire left side of the display can be dedicated to a running history of math queries, as well as unit conversions, depending on how you’ve set your Calculator app up. This is the first time we’ve ever seen unit conversions in the Calculator app, and it’s an exciting step in the right direction since many users have installed third-party calculator apps for this very reason.

Apple Pencil Changes Everything

But here’s where things get interesting…

Aside from tapping on digital buttons to enter your math like you would in the iPhone’s Calculator app you already know and love, iPadOS 18 will allow Calculator app users on the iPad to use their Apple Pencil to ‘write’ math problems and solve them in near real-time.

Indeed, you can enter equations, formulas, or functions and the Calculator app automatically takes PEMDAS into consideration and solves for all the variables on your behalf as quickly as you can write the equals sign with your Apple Pencil. Another thing that the new Calculator app does in these instances is display line graphs to depict functions where applicable.

And no… you don’t have to have an Apple Pencil for this. You can also use a keyboard attached to your iPad if you’re more comfortable just typing things out. Obviously, using an Apple Pencil is just going to be more fun and behave more like writing on paper, except that the paper solves the math for you.

Even as you’re writing equations, formulas, or functions, and even after you’ve already solved them by writing an equals sign, you can continue to add to or modify those equations, formulas, or functions and iPadOS 18’s Calculator app will automatically adjust the answers to suit your modifications. Snazzy!

I know what I was thinking when I saw this: “where was this technology when I was growing up?” The kids seem to have it so easy these days. Do you think teachers will ban these types of technology in classrooms to promote understanding of math, or allow students to use it openly as a tool? Hmm…

It’s not just for iPad…

Enhanced Calculator app for iPhone running iOS 18.

While the iPhone doesn’t have the Apple Pencil experience, we do want to note that the enhanced Calculator app is also coming to the iPhone with iOS 18.

This means that the iPhone’s Calculator app will gain access to the unit conversion features, as well as the math history features via a menu button on the top-left of the app, and a fast way to switch between regular and scientific modes.

It does appear that the iPhone’s Calculator app supports math notes, but without Apple Pencil support, we can only assume this is something you’d type in yourself with the keyboard or perhaps write with your finger. More on that later…

Excellent Calculator App Upgrades

The Calculator app has remained the same on the iPhone for a very long time, and the introduction of the Calculator app on the iPad was long overdue. For that reason, these are welcome upgrades that will benefit a lot of end users who want easier access to math solutions using the powerful machine in their pocket.

Apple has effectively made a stock app arguably better than many of the third-party alternatives in the App Store, so it’ll be tough for third-party Calculator apps in the App Store to compete…

Are you excited for the new Calculator app upgrades? Let us know in the comments section down below.

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