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The Rechner Calculator: a gesture-based number-crunching alternative for iOS

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The Rechner Calculator is a $0.99 iOS app that replaces several of the normal calculator buttons with simple swipe gestures.

Rechner Calculator
Rechner Calculator

Most cellphone calculators are ugly, utilitarian affairs, but the Rechner Calculator aims to bring a bit of elegance to your arithmetic. The new $0.99 iOS calculator replaces the most commonly-used buttons with swipe gestures: left to right for addition, right to left for subtraction, upwards to calculate, and a two-fingered swipe in any direction to clear the screen. Other basic functions are stored in a small menu that's brought up by drawing downwards. We gave it a try, and while it's hard to revolutionize the field of basic productivity tools, the app's simple idea is well-executed.

The Rechner Calculator looks the way we wish the native iOS calculator did. Its black-and-white design blends perfectly with the bezel of the iPhone, and the feedback noises are subtle but effective. After each gesture, a yellow circle with the corresponding symbol appears briefly in the middle of the screen, making it easy to tell what's going on. We didn't find the gestures all that much faster than hitting buttons on a normal calculator, but combined with the simplified layout, it's significantly more intuitive.

We do wish the app had gone a little further with its interface by giving us multiplication and division gestures, since those get a lot of play on our calculators. As it is, they're stored away in the hidden actions drawer, meaning it takes an extra tap to figure out a percentage or a product. On the iPhone, the clear gesture was also problematic. I tend to hold the phone with one hand and tap out numbers with my thumb, so clearing it was impossible without bringing another hand up to the calculator, breaking an otherwise very smooth workflow. We hope the developers will build more on their ideas in further updates, but if you're serious about casual calculation, the Rechner Calculator is well worth your dollar.