CalcTape is an Android app that aims to offer users a modern alternative to the humble ticker tape calculator. It does this by offering users a scratchpad to write notes as well as calculate things such as tax, expenses, mileage and so on. With different keyboard, including a simple way to switch between them, CalcTape makes it super-simple to write notes as well as switch back to working out the figures. CalcTape recently hit version 2 and launches with a number of new features, including the ability to create your own custom buttons that will quickly execute your own custom equations, save your scratchpad equations as files and a lot more. With lots of configurable options available to users, as well as a simple and easy-to-follow interface, CalcTape might be the best calculator app out there. Let's find out whether it is or not, shall we?
CalcTape is available as a free download from the Play Store, but there is also a Pro Version that users can update to within the app to get access to a lot more features. These include being able to save your working as a file, create as many custom buttons as you like, custom keypad layouts and more. To celebrate the launch of Version 2, CalcTape Pro is on offer for 50% off.
Once you've either upgraded to the Pro version - this is what I'm testing here - or to stick with the Freeware option for now, users will be presented with a blank scratchpad.
The scratchpad is perhaps the unique foundation of CalcTape, it's what allows users to write down notes as well as input calculations. It's easy to change between an ABC keyboard for typing and a keyboard designed for working out figures, and after a little time it's easy to create a note pad full of notes as well as figures that are worked out in an instant.
As you can see, you can quickly copy figures to your clipboard, which makes it nice and easy to take your workings out to any other app, such as your banking app or whatever else. CalcTape is configurable no matter what you want to do, including custom buttons and the layout of these buttons. These are really, really helpful. If I were to make one I could do the 9% for National Insurance payments in the UK, and name it "N.I."
These calculations can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be, but for me this was really helpful and made working National Insurance contributions really, really simple. While users can create their own options, there are some very useful ones already included, many of which will be familiar or helpful to those in finance.
From there, users can choose the function keypad which puts these front and center, with it being super-easy to change between the different keypads and the ABC keyboard.
Users can also customize how many functions they have at their fingertips by choosing the larger, more useful 4 x 6 keypad, which also includes room for two of your custom buttons as well.
How these buttons appear on your keypad can also be configured as well, with some choice on how small or large these buttons appear. This might seem like an insignificant thing, but being able to hit a button nice and quickly when working in a hurry is invaluable.
This is pretty helpful, and it allows me to make my special National Insurance button as small or as large as I want, making it easy to find without being too distracting, either.
It's important to remember that CalcTape is not a Scientific calculator, and was never designed as one, instead it's an app that's focused on making it super-easy to keep track of spending, figures for budgets and that sort of thing. The Scratchpad feature allows users to save different documents to come back to them later, something that other calculator apps just can't come close to.
This flexibility makes CalcTape a pretty invaluable part of any working office and it's convinced me that I don't need a "proper" calculator any more, as CalcTape turns my device into everything I could ever need for working out my budget. On top of all of this, CalcTape is really configurable, as a quick trip to the settings menu will show.
On top of all the customization options that change how CalcTape acts, we can change how it looks, too. In the very same Settings menu, users will find a few theme options, such as this Night option here:
After working on all of your different workings using the Scratchpad, you can easily export them to other platforms - provided you upgraded to the Pro option, that is - as the file type is identical on Android and iOS, however syncing these is only available via iCloud right now. Those with an iOS device as well, such as an iPad or even a Mac can download the iOS version here. If all of this sounds a little complicated, it needn't be, as there's a dedicated manual for CalcTape accessible online, which can be found within the info part of the app.
When using the Scratchpad part of the app, equations are calculated super-quickly, but what if you've made a mistake or end up with a result that seems huge compared to what you were expecting? For this, CalcTape has a simple Corrections feature that happens in real-time. Below, I've done a mock up of some computer pricing for a rollout of replacement machines, with the top figure being the desktops themselves.
This is a figure that's wildly off the mark in terms of what I was thinking, and I quickly see that this is because I have gotten carried away and added an extra 6! With CalcTape, all I need to do is remove the 6 at the top line and see the answer below change instantly. This is a real timesaver and makes checking your workings much easier.
After seeing what CalcTape has on offer, I can see why the app charges what it does for the Pro offering. It can be a real pain to find an app that allows you to work with figures, quickly make complicated adjustments using percentages and formulas, and then also add your own commentary. CalcTape is one of the few apps that does this, and it does it really well. The Scratchpad part of the app works well, and is super-simple to use, it's all very straightforward. Being able to change the layout of the keys and create your own custom buttons is the sort of thing that people making budgets or working out bills on a regular basis will really enjoy. It all comes together well, and if you're the sort of user that has a Mac or an iOS device as well, CalcTape is even more useful, but it would be great to see some sort of integration with Google services as well, especially given how good the Android app is.
- Speed (4/5) - Everything runs quickly with CalcTape and it can speed up the process of budgeting and such massively.
- Theme (4/5) - The UI here is fairly easy to use and while it's not the best looking out there it certainly gets the job done and fits in well with Android.
- Features (5/5) - Without doubt, CalcTape is one of the few apps that genuinely does make working things our easier, as oppose to more difficult and convoluted. Despite its complex features, it's still simple to use and even syncs with other platforms, too.
- Overall (4.5/5) - With some integration with Google platforms, such as Drive, CalcTape would be a lot better for Android users, but as it stands it has a hell of a lot going for it, and it's a great tool for those working in finance or just looking for a better way of working out their own taxes and such.
- Button system gives users the freedom to quickly create their own macro, no matter how complicated the formula or its promise.
- Despite being complex under the hood, it's super-simple for users to get to grips with and doesn't confuse users.
- Custom keyboard layouts and such help make CalcTape a near-infinitely configurable app that allows users to tailor things to them.
- Scratchpad feature is a great way of working things out with a little commentary as well as a running total and a quick way to copy figures to the clipboard.
- Demo notes in the Scratchpad part of the app to explain the custom features and their use cases would work well with the manual for complete novices.
- Needs to let users sync data with Google Drive to make it easier to get access to the same files on another Android devices, such as a tablet.
All-in-all, CalcTape is the sort of app that will definitely have its core following, but as it's so easy to use, it's approachable by all levels of competence. It's as complicated or as simple as the user chooses to make it and it has some great custom features available as well. The new version 2 of the app looks great, runs well and the Scratchpad feature is easily one of the best ways to keep on top of budgets and other workings out.