Calculate Complex Sums In Plain English With These Apps

Traditional calculators are fine, but you can easily lose your place, forget what you're calculating, or just waste brainpower on keeping track of everything. These simple apps for Windows and OS X make complex calculations a lot easier by mixing a notepad and a calculator, letting you tabulate everything in plain Enlgish.

When I'm performing a more complicated calculation, I usually open up Notepad next to the calculator so I can keep track of which numbers correspond to each real-world item they represent. If I'm adding up money totals, I'll write down the tax, shipping or whatever else I need. These apps — OpalCalc for Windows and Soulver for Mac, iPhone and iPad — turn calculators from cryptic number machines into actual, easy to use "logs" that automatically tally up any sums, products or other calculations you make as you go.

OpalCalc and Soulver arrange themselves as two-pane windows. On the left side, you type in the information you want to calculate — say, how much it will cost you to build that new computer. You can type in dollar values along with descriptions of each component, so you remember which number corresponds to which item. Then, at the end you can add the shipping cost and a percentage value for tax. Without doing anything, you'll get the total dollar value of your purchase in the right pane.

It's a simple example, but both programs can perform much more complicated options when you need them to. You can assign variables (length=10inch) and then use them later ($10 x length), calculate percentages ("32 as a % of 80"), and lots more. The language is a bit different in each app, so check out OpalCalc's documentation and Soulver's feature list for more info. Check out the video above for a demo of OpalCalc to see how it works.

The Windows app, OpalCalc, is free for limited use — five lines per calculation — or you can donate any amount of money for the full version. Soulver for Mac is a bit pricey at $US25 (with a 10-day free trial), though you can grab the iPhone version for a paltry $4.49 and the iPad version for $6.49.

OpalCalc [via One Thing Well]

Soulver for Mac Soulver for iPhone [iTunes App Store] Soulver for iPad [iTunes App Store]


    It'd be great to have one of these apps for Android, but for the PC, I've already got one. It's called Excel.

    "cryptic number machines"?

    Back in my day, the old folks used to say "The use of pocket calculators will mean the next generation won't be able to do mental arithmetic"

    Now it's "The use of iphone apps will mean the next generation won't be able to use pocket calculators".

    Bonus points for any of you who know what a log table is. Double bonus points if any of you remember how to use one.

      I got taught how to use log tables, along with normal distribution tables, and trig tables last year as part of high school maths.

      Not sure how long it will last though, and whether it is a common thing to be taught even now.

      Double bonus points for me!

      Maybe it was just my school, but we got given log tables and trig tables in year 11, and learnt how to use them. Only did it as a novelty really.

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