Apparently, the iOS calculator has had a scientific mode since 2008

Today I learned that the calculator application built into the iPhone has a scientific way – and all you need to do to access it is to turn the phone on its side. If you are the type of person who keeps your phone permanently locked (like me), this may come as a surprise to you, as well as to many of us here at The Verge.

This unlocks all kinds of functionality, such as adding numbers to memory, parentheses, exponents and all high school trigonometric functions. The feature is not exactly new or hidden: it was introduced in iOS 2.0 in 2008 and, in fact, there is even a screenshot of it on the App Store page for the calculator app.

Screenshot of the App Store page for the Apple Calculator app

It was hidden from view.

To be fair, most people will probably never see this App Store page, as the app comes pre-installed on all phones. It is not the first application you would probably look for if you wanted to install a new calculator – even with the hidden functionality (ish), it is still not great.

For starters, there is no duct tape feature, which allows you to see all the operations you have just done, which is useful when you need to see if you have already added a value or not. It also makes some essential functions like parentheses – which I use in almost every math equation I make – difficult to access.

Screenshot of the calculator's ticker tape function, which shows the previous numbers and functions.

This is the PCalc ticker tape function, which is invaluable to me.

Fortunately, there are other options: PCalc offers a more robust calculation experience and a free version of PCalc Lite that is also worth downloading. Or, for more serious math, there is the TI-30XS, which can make some things (like fractions) so easy that it almost looks like cheating.