Tapbots is probably best known these days for Tweetbot, the Twitter client for Mac, iPhone and iPad that remains a favorite among apple device users despite Twitter’s clear disdain for third-party clients. But before Tweetbot, they had a number of other ‘bots,’ or smart mobile apps with a vaguely robotic aesthetic.
Calcbot was originally created by Tapbots in tandem with TapTapTap back in 2010, offering a better user interface and experience than Apple’s default calculator but without much in the way of additional function or features. A new version debuts today, and adds a lot thanks to built-in conversions and a way to essentially ‘favorite’ calculations for easy later use.
The app is completely redesigned, in line with the new Calcbot for Mac app that came out last November, with a new look that uses bold flat colors and simple thin key delineations to give you nice big button tap targets to hit. In portrait orientation, it’s like the standard pocket calculators you’d get from an overeager realtor, with a number pad, clear button, simple brackets, percentage and standard addition/subtraction/multiplication/division function buttons. In landscape, you’ll get access to advanced scientific functions, including those you’d find on the stock calculator app in scientific mode.
Where Calcbot really starts to shine, especially as a free app (leaving aside for now the features unlocked via $0.99 in-app purchase), is with a single clever tweak that makes all the difference when it comes to enabling far more convenience for both general and advanced calculator users. This is the favorite button, which lets you star a calculation for easy later recall, which in part replicates the memory function on most calculators but also goes far beyond it, allowing you to create a whole list of remembered calculations for doing some arithmetic that isn’t strictly linear in an A to B to C kind of way.
The other major addition to Calcbot comes via a $2 one-time in-app purchase. The transaction unlocks a built-in full-featured conversion engine, which lets you translate measurements, weights, energy, volume, time, temperature speed, and even currency based on current rates. You can edit units displayed, choosing to narrow down or expand the set of available conversions for each category, and you can use your existing calculator tape and current calculations to plug in the value for the conversion to be performed.
Other features are also unlocked via in-app purchase, but these are strictly aesthetic theme options and are available at $0.99 apiece. The overall app offers more than the previous paid 1.0 version of Calcbot for free, and the conversion feature is the same price as the standalone Convertbot app that Tweetbot released early on in the life of the App Store.
I’m generally a fan of what Tapbots has to offer, and I like its focused and patient approach to app development, which is partly due to their staying small despite experiencing lots of early and continued success on the app Store. Calcbot fits in with their lineup and its evolution over the years, and boosts the value for end-users at the same time, so it’s a solid option if what you need is more muscle than the default calculator app provides, without the sometimes daunting advanced features of the popular PCalc.