August App Review: PCalc

App: PCalc
Developer: TLA Systems Ltd.
Price: Free
Platforms: iOS

I don’t use a calculator app for complicated things.  I’m a college student, and an iPhone just isn’t going to cut it for calculus class, that’s what my TI-84 is for.  Because of that, most of my interactions with a calculator app are short and straightforward: stuff like simple adding and multiplying.  With this in mind, PCalc is the perfect calculator app for one reason: it gives you a calculator in Notification Center.

When I first heard about PCalc, I wasn’t that impressed.  Why would I need a calculator in Notification Center since I could easily launch the calculator from Control Center?  But I downloaded the app just to check it out.  Turns out it’s super useful.  It’s especially useful when I’m doing something money related on my phone – say, using the Pocket Expense app – and I need to make a quick calculation.  It’s so much easier to just swipe down into Notification Center than to have to switch apps twice.

The widget will handle all the basic math you can throw at it, and even supports copy and paste.  Tapping the number at the top will launch the full app.  You can also minimize the calculator (using the little arrow to the left) if you don’t want it taking up so much room in Notification Center.

I haven’t really ever used the main app of PCalc, because the widget is so powerful.  But it does everything the stock calculator app can do, plus more.  In portrait orientation, it’s a basic scientific calculator.  In landscape orientation, many more buttons become available, for things like logarithms and trig functions.  Unlike the stock calculator app, PCalc also has some advanced functions, like parenthesis and memory, right there in portrait view.  PCalc also has a button for conversions (labeled “A->B”) and mathematical constants (perfectly labeled “42”).  There are several of each available when you first get the app, and you can buy more (in packs such as the “Engineer Pack”) as in-app purchases.  There’s also different themes available for purchase, as well as a few other features.  These are available individually as smaller purchases, or you can buy everything for $9.99.

As you can see, PCalc is simultaneously a very simple app, and a very powerful app.  It’s great because it can really be whatever you need it to be: I need a simple calculator available in any app and even the lock screen.  But if you need a powerful calculator app chock-full of functions and features, PCalc has you covered there as well.  ••

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