The app store has hundreds of different calculator apps. The specialized calculators such as the graphing calculators, builder’s calculators, and engineering calculators all provide features not found in the native iPhone calculator app. The rest of the apps which seems to be nothing more than different user interfaces for the same basic calculator have always made me question the need for yet another calculator app. Now, the good folks at TapBots who created the amazing ConvertBot conversion app, have released yet another basic calculator application with a couple of features that should have been implemented better to make them useful.
CalcBot, just like all other apps by TapBots feature a stunning user interface. It uses a dark user interface and features the almost neonish blue text that ConvertBot made famous. The buttons are all clearly labeled and are sized appropriately for fast and easy operation. If it was up to the user interface alone, this app would be named the king of all calculators. But looks are not everything.
The tagline used to describe CalcBot is “never lose your place in a calculation again” and the concept is simple. Provide a calculator that mirrors desk tape calculators. As you type, the display shows you a “formula” view of your calculation. Under the current total, the steps of the calculation are shown as a formula. Press the equal button and the calculation is transferred to a virtual tape that you can access by swiping down on the screen. Access more formulas by swiping sideways. Want to recall a previous calculation? Click on it on the tape and it is transferred to the calculator screen where, conceptually, you can edit the formula as needed. While this all sounds great, in practice, it is far from great.
Rather than using a traditional tape where each operation is listed on its own line, the tape is simply a list of the previous calculations shown in a formula view. Long formulas are cut off and do not wrap around to show all the steps. Pressing on the formula, will transfer it to the calculator window. This is where the app missed the concept of an electronic tape calculator. Rather than allowing the user to edit the individual parts of the formula, the user is only able to erase the parts starting at the last part and moving in reverse. This means that if you found a mistake in your calculation in the middle of the formula, you have to erase everything to the right of the mistake, fix the mistake, and then re-enter the rest of the formula. That in itself renders this app useless for what some may need a tape calculator for.
In its current incarnation, I can not recommend CalcBot as a useful tape calculator for users who use calculators extensively. Users looking for a companion app to ConvertBot that uses the same beautiful user interface theme will be happy with this app. Power users will soon be looking for a more robust and useful application.
Price: $1.99 (App Store)
Updated:Jul 29, 2010
1.1.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
Size: 9.9 MB
Languages:English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
© 2010 Tapbots LLC
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later.