Since the introduction of the iPad I’ve assisted my fair share of friends and family with getting acquainted with their shiny new tablet. A few were already iPhones owners. Most we’re being exposed to the Apple culture for the first time. None had ever owned or used a Mac. During the course of showing them the ropes, I would inadvertently get asked the question: “Where is the calculator?” or if they owned an iPhone, “The calculator icon is missing!”.

A quick App Store visit resolves this dilemma fairly quickly, however it does beg the question:

Why doesn’t Apple include a calculator app on the iPad?

Being a developer I know quite well what it takes to develop a universal app that renders and functions correctly on both devices. For the calculator app as we know it on our iPhones it would be a mere few extra minutes of development time to make this happen. So why then has Apple chosen deliberately to leave what most would consider a staple app absent from the iPad?

Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if a future update to iOS suddenly included one, though I doubt it will happen anytime soon.

I think Apple has deliberately chosen to do this to educate us, the consumers, into understanding that the iPad should not be considered a utilitarian device meant to be pulled out on a whim to perform a quick calculation but rather a hybrid consumption/creation device meant for so much more.

It makes perfect sense for us to quickly pull out our iPhones from our pockets or purses to crunch a few numbers, but rarely are you going to run to the other room or dig through a backpack to do the same thing. One could make the very relevant argument that board rooms and classrooms, whose use of the iPad is ubiquitous through the course of a day, would think otherwise and you’d be right.

The point is to set a precedence for the masses. As a result of its absence, we now have hundreds or third party calculator apps available in the App Store, many tailored specifically to a niche audience or use making it much more versatile on a larger screen for a specific audience.

The above conjecture may seem an over analysis for what amounts to a mere nuisance at best. But the important concept is to get some sliver of insight into what many would consider just a silly oversight into something that I think a lot more thought was put into than you may realize.


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