MyScript Calculator for iOS is Indistinguishable from Magic

| Video Review

MyScript Calculator for iOS from Vision Objects is an app that accepts cursive input of mathematical expressions, converts to text and then computes the answer. It's an amazing app. Best of all, it's free.

Arthur C. Clarke, the legendary science fiction writer, developed three laws, observations about technology. The third law states, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." That's what I thought of when I discovered this app from Vision Objects. I so want to take it back in time to show it to myself as I was first opening the box of my beloved HP-67 calculator.

While the app is no substitute for a great hand-held or iOS calculator like, say PCalc, it's perfect for quick, back of the envelope calculations.

Let's start with a short video review to demonstrate how the app works. My preference was to use a stylus, but the app works fine with your finger, even on the small display of an iPhone.

Features

  • Calculates the result of mathematical expressions entered cursively
  • Scratch out entries to make corrections
  • Undo and Redo
  • Portrait or landscape mode
  • Palm Rejection
  • Left Hand mode
  • Built in video tutorial
  • Email the result

Functions

  • Basic math: +, -, x, /, +/-
  • Misc operators: %, √ x! |x|
  • Powers, roots: ex, xy, x2
  • Brackets ()
  • Trig: sin, cos, tan, acos, asin, atan
  • Logs: ln, log
  • Constants, pi, e, phi (golden ratio)

Limitations

Currently, the app only computes the result to three decimal places due to possible limitations on screen space. The developer told me that he's solved that problem and is submitting a new version, 1.1.1, which should be live in a few days that computes to 6 places.

Discussion

The app is pretty good about allowing you to make corrections. If it can't figure something out, it presents a ?-mark, so you can enter the desired symbol. If things get messed up, just use the undo function. Invalid expressions like 1/0 are converted to include a ?-mark so you can fix the input.

The handwriting recognition is pretty good, but one does have to make a subconscious effort to give the app a helping hand by writing as unambiguously as possible. Chicken scratch just isn't a good idea here. What you saw in the video above is more than adequate.

There are times when a hand-held or iOS calculator is just the right tool for the job, but I can see how one might use this app, say, on an iPhone, in a restaurant to quickly compute a tip withou having to hunt for the % key.

One of the thoughtful features is the ability to send an email with the results. Just in case you've solved Fermat's Last Theorem and want to preserve it for publication.

You can email a result.

Why is the app free? In a familiar fashion, the developer wants to introduce customers to the company's other products -- as well as developers who might want to buy the SDK. The developer wrote me, "Our goal is twofold; educate the market on the power and possibilities of Hand Writing Recognition (HWR) and build brand awareness behind MyScript/Vision Objects as the worldwide leader in this field."

System Requirements

  • Universal for iPhone and iPad.
  • Requires iOS 6.0 or later.
  • Works on iPhone back to 3GS, iPod touch back to 3rd generation, and all iPads.
  • Released December 20, 2012. Now at version 1.1.
  • Localized for English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

Summary

There's a sense of giddy, technical fun about this app. It showcases the iPad capabilities, and makes one feel immersed in the future of technology. And it's free, so just go get it. It's a joy to use.

Product: MyScript Calculator

Company: Vision Objects

List Price: Free

Pros:

Easy and intuitive, fun to use, fast, capable, video tutorial, Undo/Redo, email the result, palm protection, left hand mode.

Cons:

Version 1.1 limited to three decimal places.

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2 Comments

geoduck

As we’ve discussed before I object to the use of the word “magic” when it comes to engineering.  Well, I guess I’m going to have to eat my words.
I have never played with anything that A: worked perfectly out of the box. B: did exactly what it was supposed to C: was able to read my lousy handwriting without fail

I spent the last 10 min playing with it and saying “Holy C**p” over and over. And this is on a couple year old iPod Touch, not cutting edge hardware by any stretch using my rather pudgy fingers to write with.

Thanks for the lead on an amazing program.

KimH

If you were an HP-67 fan, I’m surprised you don’t use the i41cx+ app. Not only is it RPN, it lets you do HP-style programming and symbolic ath.

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