Thursday, July 26, 2012

Before today, when you typed an equation into Google say, “15 x 7″ the answer (105, if you must know) would appear in bold above you actual search results. Now Google has gone one step further, giving you your answer on a virtual calculator.

The blue-hued calculator appears above your results, as before, and has 34 buttons, including standard trigonometric functions, exponents and buttons for the transcendental numbers, pi and e.

Bonus: It also works on mobile. In our quick test, it appeared in both Safari and Chrome on iOS and of course on Android as well. Although the scientific functions aren’t visible in portrait mode, they appear when you flip your phone to landscape a trick Google’s borrowing from the iOS-standard calculator.

Punching buttons is a little unwieldy in the desktop browser, but it’s natural as can be on a phone. Plus, on both versions, you can do calculations via voice search. The voice interface can even discern such phrasing as “cosine of 60 degrees.”

It’s not the first time Google has experimented with interactive calculators in its search tool. A Google Doodle late last year that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Stanislaw Lem’s first book featured a robot whose chest featured a calculator, although it was very limited and somewhat unreliable.