One aspect about the iPad that has perplexed me since its initial release was the fact that, unlike the iPhone, Apple did not include a standard calculator app with the base iPad OS install. Fortunately for companies like Acqualia, the developer of Soulver, this left a huge opportunity to deliver something beyond a standard calculator. Read on to learn why Soulver is not just another fancy virtual adding machine.
Based on Acqualia's Soulver desktop application
, Soulver for iPad is a near desktop equivalent costing considerably less than its desktop counterpart. While some may prefer the desktop version over the iPad release due to the desktop's larger window area and the color syntax highlighting not found in the iPad release, nearly all the application's functionality made the conversion. This includes the ability to print (via AirPrint) and email (though, unlike the desktop version, will not convert to PDF before sending as an attachment) Soulver notepad files directly from the Soulver application.
The key differentiator of Soulver compared to other calculation applications on the iPad is the fact that Soulver allows you to enter words, quantities, different currencies and even programmer-friendly binary and hexidecimal (but not octal) values, and watch Soulver figure out the appropriate answers based on this mixture of data types. It's almost as if Acqualia specifically designed the program to parse and solve word problems. For example, you can ask Soulver to calculate "$70 a night x 3 nights" and it will know you want to multiple 70 times 3. You can convert the US Dollar amount to Euros on the fly to calculate that monetary value. Unlike the desktop version, Soulver for iPad doesn't do unit conversions, such as 'convert 5 pounds to kilograms'.
One of my favorite Soulver features besides its intelligent parser is the running totals feature. This is something every iOS calculator app should have, as it makes a huge difference in productivity. I love the fact that I can use Soulver to keep track of dozens of calculation lists and tallies. These lists can be backed up and synced via Dropbox to other devices running Soulver. I expect that a future update will eventually (hopefully sooner than later) support iCloud as well as Dropbox, as iCloud syncing is a natural choice for this type of mutli-Apple platform application.
One other suggestion I would like to see in a future release are several pre-installed demo notepads to help prime the creative pump of users, akin to the way that Wolfram Alpha
iOS application allows users to select a variety of mathematic and scientific computational scenarios from its Examples menu. And while Soulver is by no means anywhere near the level of sophistication that Wolfram Alpha has to offer, Soulver also doesn't have to rely on an Internet connection to return calculation results.
Overall, I really like Soulver's ability to understand simple conversational math and translate such phrases into useful, accurate and persistent answers. Its ability to work with worldwide currency types, user-based functions, a variety of percentages and programmer calculations make it a powerful and very reasonably priced iPad app. So if you're looking for a calculator app to fill the void that Apple left behind on the iPad, make Soulver for iPad the top one on your list.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars