Know the Calculator app in iOS 10

By , Nov 22, 2016

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Apple’s Calculator app is one of those stock offerings largely flying under the radar for its soberness. It is somewhat overlooked, but then again can be a lifesaver at times. For those who need to crunch numbers on a more regular basis it is presumably nothing but an emergency fill-in, when for the rest of us it definitely more than cuts the mustard for everyday computations.

On the back of such a broad user base with varying skill sets, it goes without saying that there is a large discrepancy in expertise and knowledge about the calculator app itself.

The fact you can still elicit the occasional gasp from an unknowing iPhone user, just by rotating the interface to landscape mode says a lot about the relevance of calculator to many. Yes, it is mostly a plain calculator representation, but Apple did implement more knacks than first meet the eye. Novice or professional, if you are keen to boost your productivity in calculator, continue reading to find out if you are up to speed on the following tricks:

Scientific calculator

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The much more complex scientific calculator is the one feature that has been figured out by most, be it by accident or not. And that’s in spite of being tucked away behind landscape mode and a distinct lack of indicators encouraging users to try tilting their iPhone. At the very likely risk of preaching to the choir, when you turn your iPhone by 90 degrees (and have rotation lock in your Control Center deactivated), the calculator keyboard morphs into a much more resourceful interface comprising advanced mathematical operations such as roots, logarithms, trigonometric functions and all the other things maths lovers will find good use for.

Delete the last digit typed

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Ever wondered where Apple placed the backspace key to correct your long-winded numbers in case you mistype a digit? This has been something I personally agonized over for the better part of my studies, desperately smashing C (Clear) and starting from square one whenever I inadvertently hit the wrong numbers. It’s not the biggest of impositions when you just started dialling, however a couple of operators into an equation and a mishap is pretty likely going to get your goat.

The solution? The much-needed delete key is hiding behind a simple gesture. Just place your finger on the number you are in the process of typing and swipe left or right. The direction of your swipe does not have a bearing on which digit will be deleted – it will always delete the last digit typed. You can keep swiping to shrink the numbers one by one, plus the gesture is functioning for both portrait and landscape mode.

Accelerate your multi-tasking skills

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With iOS 10, jumping between calculator and other apps running simultaneously has become a lot less cumbersome solely by virtue of 3D Touch. For 3D Touch-enabled devices, calculator’s Control Center shortcut now offers a nimble Copy Last Result feature, keeping you from having to launch back into calculator every time you are trying to retrieve the latest result of your calculations.

The chance to copy and paste a result or figure is not new and you can always, regardless of your device, resort to holding down on your result inside calculator and wait for the copy/paste option to pop up. That said, thanks to the 3D Touch shortcut, calculator has now gained a hint of a short-term memory outside the app.

Repeat the last operation with one easy touch

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Without getting too technical, repeatedly clicking the = key in your bottom right corner can be a handy method to re-apply the last operator plus following constant of your equation to the previous result. To make sure this does not sound too abstract, all it means is that when you punch in 1200 x 0.8 to find out that 80% of 1200 equals 960, continuing to select = is going to yield 80% of 960, then 80% of 768 and so on. This is not an absolute revelation, and works similarly on physical calculators, but it does save you time if you didn’t know about it until now.

Clear C and Arithmetic Clear AC

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Once again this is neither new nor does it only apply to Apple’s calculator, however understanding when and why the AC button turns into a and vice versa is going to help you control which parts of an equation you want to cancel out. Starting to plug in numbers, the key will read AC first, then switch to C.

The moment you hit an operator such as +/-/x/: and add a second figure to the equation, hitting Clear C is only going to remove the latter part of the equation (displays 0) meaning you can replace it without also erasing the former part of it. Only if you hit the now available AC instead of typing in a new number, the entire arithmetic exercise will be discarded and you can start from scratch.

And that’s a wrap. Having a basic understanding of calculator on iPhone is bound to come in handy for you one day, so give these tips a whirl and share your own calculator essentials in the comments!

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  • Viv

    So basic yet most often overlooked. I found out the swipe gesture by accident as well 😉

  • Legend

    Still can’t compute TVM or Cash flows, nor amortize a loan…. just a basic calculator. Useless.

    • burge

      No one said it was more than a calculator. After all the app is called CALCULATOR.

      • Legend

        THE FLIP??? A FINANCIAL CALCULATOR IS ALSO A FKN CALCULATOR DUMB A**

      • burge

        I know what it is your the one who has issues with it. And before you say you don’t it’s quite obvious that you do.

        And nothing like shouting and throwing insults because I’ve pointed out the obvious to you. It’s a Calculator and for some reason you’re quite touchy about this.

        Take your toys and you Fisher-Price calculator and put them back in your pram.

  • Apple Hocam

    Thanks 🙂

  • 7000rpm

    Very informative article! Didn’t know the differences with AC and C until now. Thanks.

    • Diego Milano

      Indeed, I didn’t know either, haha. 😛

  • Diego Milano

    I found there is a landscape mode for the clock app the other day by pure chance on Plus’ bigger screens, I actually like the world clock tab presentation. Little details… 😉

  • Kyaw Swar Aung

    Landscape mode since years ago