After 14 years, Apple expected to unveil the iPad app we've all been waiting for at WWDC

Apple’s Calculator app is expected to come to the iPad for the first time, but changes are coming to the Mac Calculator, too.

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Apple’s Calculator app has been conspicuously absent from the iPad since the tablet’s launch 14 years ago. The curiosity surrounding why is now shifting to rumors that the native app will finally be included in iPadOS 18, which will be announced today.

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While Apple launched new iPad models in May, the company plans to announce new iOS, iPadOS, visionOS, and macOS updates at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10. According to MacRumors and Bloomberg, WWDC’s keynote will also include an announcement regarding a built-in Calculator app for all iPad models compatible with iPadOS 18.

Apple is revamping the Calculator app to bring it to the iPad, marking the first time the native app is included in the tablet. The new Calculator app will resemble the iPhone version — featuring round buttons —  and provide a consistent experience across all devices, according to reports. This interface will also come to the Mac’s calculator, which currently has square buttons. 

While we don’t have official word on why the iPad hasn’t had a built-in Calculator app all these years, speculation has attributed the reasons to market positioning, encouraging third-party development, and — maybe most credibly — design philosophy. A person claiming to be a former Apple employee told the story on Reddit eight years ago, blaming the lack of an iPad Calculator app on Steve Jobs:

“A month before the release, Steve Jobs calls Scott Forstall into his office and says to him, “Where is the new design for the Calculator? This looks awful.” He said, “What new design?” This is what we are shipping with. Steve said, “No, pull it we can’t ship that.” Scott fought for it to stay in, but he knew he had to get their UI team involved to design a new look for the Calculator but there was no way they could do it in that short time frame, so they just scrapped it.”

Because iPadOS is built on iOS, many of the original built-in iPadOS apps were simply the corresponding iOS apps stretched to fit a larger screen. Steve Jobs thinking that the Calculator app filling the whole tablet’s screen is an eyesore sounds like a plausible explanation. The same user finished his story by saying that the Calculator app has remained a low priority at the company.

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“We want to do it when we can do it really, really well. And we honestly just haven’t gotten around to doing it great,” Apple SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi said in an interview after WWDC 2020 regarding a native Calculator iPad app. 

After 14 years, I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, this rumor is another thing to look forward to during WWDC.

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