I love it when an app developer takes one of my minor grumbles and comes up with a simple solution. PopCalc is one of those.

There are times when I have a few sums to do, and the standard calculator app is a bit too dumb, while creating a spreadsheet in Numbers feels like overkill. What I really want is a cross between the two: the simplicity of a calculator, but some of the functionality of a spreadsheet. And that’s exactly what PopCalc aims to deliver … 

So, let’s look at an example. I’m looking for a new gadget, and comparing a few options. That’s a situation in which I have been known to find myself on the odd occasion.

I spot it on a few different UK websites, some with VAT (sales tax), some without. I need to add 20 percent to all of the net prices to compare to the gross ones. With the standard calculator, I end up manually tapping in ‘+20%=’ for each. With PopCalc, all I do is tap + then touch the 20% blob from the first calculation:

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One touch instead of four. Repeat for another website:

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Now I check out prices on a few US websites. Prices are usually significantly lower than in the UK, though it’s the luck of the draw whether Customs charge VAT when it arrives. The current exchange rate is £0.61 to the dollar, so I do that sum for the first US price, which is $699:

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Ok, that’s a lot better, but what if I do end up being charged VAT when it’s delivered?

I touch the £426.39 blob then the plus sign then one of the 20% blobs:

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Still a good deal so long as I don’t get ripped on international shipping. I can obviously do the same sums for other US websites just as easily.

If I want to do some more price-shopping later, I can swipe left on any line to label my calculations with the names of the websites:

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Finally, all calculations are editable, so if the exchange rate changes before I make my decision, I can update my calculations just by tapping to the right of the number I want to change, hitting backspace and then tapping in the new number.

There’s more it can do – like saving named calculation sets for later use – but to my mind that’s getting into spreadsheet territory, and I’d be more likely to consider it worth the effort to fire up Numbers. For the mathematicians among you, there’s also a scientific calculator in there (swipe left or right on the keypad to swap between them).

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Conclusions

PopCalc is not an app that’s going to change your life, but it does make your life just that tiny bit easier every time you need to do a quick series of calculations. I’ve already dumped the standard Calculator app in my Unused folder, and put this one in its place.

PopCalc Free is, as the name suggests, free to download from the App Store. The free version has ads, and you can only edit the last three calculations. PopCalc Pro loses the ads and allows you to edit any line, for $1.99. If you’re quick, you can grab one of the two promo codes we have for the Pro version:

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Another alternative worth looking at is Digits, a virtual printing calculator which also offers editable calculations. At the time of writing, the $0.99 deal seems to be back on.