Calculating critiques of the Android and iPhone Calculator apps

To be blunt, the default Calculator app on the iPhone is really bad. Apple just replicated a standard/scientific calculator without adding any additional features. 


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This application basically ignores the infinite digital canvas offered by a smartphone. The big exceptions are rotating to access the scientific mode and copying results. 

For example, after choosing an operation, entering the second number causes the first one in the equation to disappear. On a physical calculator, the screen might not have enough space to show more than that, but a phone display certainly can.   

12 x 34 = 408

Another glaring absence is the lack of a tape, or history, feature. A smartphone can store every single equation you’ll ever enter, including when/the date, for the life of that device with no impact to storage whatsoever. 

Replicating a physical calculator might have been fine at the start of the smartphone era, but it’s a pretty wild choice today. 

In comparison, I think Google’s Calculator app is one of the best expressions of the Material You design language available. It looks simple, like Apple’s, while supporting more functionality and delightful flourishes.

By swiping down and shrinking the keys, which gracefully go from circles to pills, you get to see your last calculation. One neat aspect is how you can scroll the history and maintain access to the full calculator, while swiping down gives you the full feed.

The app, which is available for all Android devices, has a good large screen layout, which the iPad incredibly still lacks and Apple is apparently happy ceding to third-party apps, like the venerable PCalc.

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