WWDC 2024

14 Years Later, Apple Is Finally Releasing a Calculator App for the iPad

About freakin’ time.

The new Apple-made Calculator app for iPad coming to iPadOS 18 in fall 2024

Amidst all the Apple Intelligence / AI, visionOS 2, macOS Sequoia, and iPhone AI announcements at WWDC 2024, one feature literally got a “yay” from Apple itself: the calculator app for iPad.

In case you haven’t been counting, it’s taken Apple 14 — yes, fourteen — years to finally make an official calculator app for the iPad. In typical Apple fashion, the iPad Calculator app is more than just an app for basic calculations.

“It makes solving math easier than ever,” said Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi, explaining how the app works better with an Apple Pencil for the “Math Notes” feature.

Tapping on the calculator button (yeah, a calculator button inside of a calculator app), you open a scratch pad where you can write out math equations. When you write out an equal sign, Math Notes automatically displays the answer, or when you write a line underneath a table of numbers, it provides the total in real-time.

Math Notes is like a math tutor!


In another demo, Apple showed how the Calculator app and Math Notes can perform expressions in a physics problem that involves solving an equation with illustrations. The demo involves changing variables and seeing how that affects an included graph. It’s kind of, dare I say, magical when you see the calculations update live.

Updates are made live as you change numbers, expressions, etc.


Furthermore, Math Notes works right inside the Notes app.

Why It Took So Long for Apple to Make a Calculator App

Ask Apple and it’ll probably tell you that it wanted to wait until it could make a calculator app with a feature like Math Notes. The real answer, though, might have been spicier.

According to one alleged ex-Apple employee, Apple had prototyped a calculator app for the iPad, but Steve Jobs hated it, per Cult of Mac.

When they were prototyping the iPad, they ported the iOS calc over, but it was just stretched to fit the screen. It was there all the way from the beginning of the prototypes and was just assumed by everyone at Apple that it was going to be shipped that way.

Former Apple SVP of iOS Scott Forstall, who was famously fired by Tim Cook over the disastrous Apple Maps launch in 2012, reportedly fought for the stretched-out calculator app to stay, but Jobs nixed it a month before the iPad’s release.

A month before the release, Steve Jobs calls Scott Forstall into his office and says to him, “where is the new design for the calculator? This looks awful.” He said, “what new design?” This is what we are shipping with. Steve said, “no, pull it we can’t ship that.” Scott fought for it to stay in, but he knew he had to get their UI team involved to design a new look for the calculator but there was no way they could do it in that short time frame, so they just scrapped it.

In the 14 years since, Apple’s answer has been pretty trite: A calculator app wasn’t a high priority and there are tons of third-party calculator apps on the App Store. Well, apparently, it was important enough this time, because at long last, the Apple-made Calculator app is finally coming to iPadOS 18 when the tablet software update ships this fall.

The best part about Apple’s iPad Calculator app is one that nobody is talking about: It won’t have ads. I cannot wait to uninstall the ad-infested calculator apps I have endured for the last 14 years.

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