This is the third in our seven part series about the apps you need to get your iPad set up as a functional working machine. We aren’t tackling special purpose needs – just the basics here. Last time we looked at basic writing apps. This time we tackle a bit of the mundane – calculators.
Calculator. Oddly, the iPad doesn’t come with a calculator app. No worries though as there are plenty of great ones in the App Store. The three calculators mentioned below should take care of most number crunching needs of lawyers. Each is slightly different, so consider the one that would be best based on your practice and needs.
My home page features Infinity Softwork’s powerOne Financial Calculator (iTunes link). Calling this app a “calculator” is a bit of an understatement. Sure, you can do all the regular calculator stuff with powerOne but the real magic is with its built in templates. The templates are sort of like mini spreadsheets: you fill in some basic data and the powerOne does the rest. Loan amortization, time value of money, cash flows, cap rates, lease analysis, depreciation, ratios, taxes, whatever. Even the most numerically inept lawyer can punch figures into the templates and get great results. As a business lawyer, I find a number of these templates very useful. Power users can even create their own templates. I designed a custom template to help with calculate the Delaware franchise tax for certain of my corporate clients. At $4.99, there are certainly cheaper calculators, but the included templates make powerOne worth the extra dough. If you want to try before you buy, check out the free version.
If you are more of a “ten key” type than a spreadsheet user, give Shift Apps Digits Calculator for iPad (iTunes link). Digits sort of resembles a modern 10-key calculator with a paper tape. On first glance, this might look like a basic calculator with tape, further inspection reveals a ton of useful tools under the hood. Probably the most useful feature is the ability to edit your tape: find a miskey in the tape and simply tap to edit and the totals update automatically. Having been a CPA prior to going to law school, this function alone would have saved me miles of tape from one miskey in a long string of numbers. I also love the ability to annotate tape entries with comments and then email the entire tape plus annotations to be printed or imported into a spreadsheet application. The old adage of “showing your work” has never been easier. If you don’t need the complicated formulas that powerOne provides, you can create an annotated tape in Digits Calculator faster than in Excel. Digits Calculator was just updated to version 2.0 and is $1.99. If you want to try before you buy, Digits also has a free edition (iTunes link).
Finally, for those more comfortable with the business calculator you had back in college, take a look at Ernest Brock’s selection of simulated HP and TI business calculators: the 12C Calc Financial (iTunes link) the 10BII HD (iTunes link) and the BA Finance Pro (iTunes link). These calculators offer the key layout and data entry methods you remember from college (though they do so at the expense of always utilizing the iPad’s large screen). They also support a number of “worksheets” similar to the templates in powerOne. While I prefer the interface of powerOne and Digits Calculator, a number of my colleagues who still have an HP calculator on their desk like not having to learn anything new to use these apps. All three of these calculators are $5.99.
So that’s everything you need to get your calc on. Next time in this series I’ll be talking about PDF annotation apps.