Why doesn’t the iPad have a Calculator app?

The iPad is the dominant tablet in the market today, undeniably, and one of the key reasons for that success if the vast variety of apps that have been optimised for iPadOS over the years. Android simply can’t keep up—but there’s one crucial app that has been missing from the iPad’s native armoury, one that seems almost too insignificant to miss: the Calculator.

Ever since the first iPad was launched over 10 years ago, Apple has not shipped it with a Calculator app. You can download 3rd party app, but unlike the iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, and even the Apple Watch, you don’t get a Calculator app built into the iPad. Frankly, it’s all rather mysterious.

Why would Apple leave this out?

Well, the internet brings up a bunch of theories, but the one that seems to hold the most veracity is one that centres around the late Steve Jobs, and his attention to detail. In a nutshell, the story starts in final weeks leading up to the launch of the original iPad.

Scott Forstall, the head of software development for the soon-to-be iconic tablet, was asked by Jobs about the Calculator app.

He explained that there wasn’t a specifically designed Calculator app for the iPad—they were simply planning on porting over the iOS version of the app. That’s not really a surprise, and particularly in the early days, it wasn’t uncommon to use enlarged iOS apps on the iPad (although they usually looked pretty bad).

Apparently, this wouldn’t fly with Jobs, and he made the call to remove the Calculator app from the iPad. Ever since then, it’s just been so far down the list of priorities that it just hasn’t been released… supposedly, that is. It’s a little hard to believe, of course, because among the thousands of Apple employees, logically, someone would be able to cook up a working, iPad-optimised Calculator app in the years since.

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Regardless, when YouTuber MKBHD asked Craig Federighi about this, the latter explained that Apple only wants to release apps that are special, that are unique. As such, he declined to confirm if a Calculator app would be coming to the iPad, although it’s still entirely possible.

If you do need to access the Calculator on your iPad, it is possible… in a way. All you need to do is ask Siri to make the necessary calculations.