Mr. Orange has always been telling me, “Hey Ben, make an App for Apple! Make millions! I could be your business manager!”
I looked into it, and in order to make an App for an Apple product, I need to buy a Mac. But there was also Android, which I looked into.
I quickly found out that the Android SDK was available on all platforms and that Android Apps are programmed in Java, which unlike Apple’s Objective-C, I have experience in.
My first attempt at an App was Sporepedia for Android. The way it ended up looking, coupled with the fact that nobody in their right mind would buy an App that just displayed a list of things from a website led me to release it for free.
Mr. Orange then told me that I had missed the point and that the reason he wanted me to make an App was to make money, not to make an App.
I knew that nobody would ever use Sporepedia for Android if it wasn’t free, so I thought and thought, and eventually settled on the idea of an App that would do algebra.
Enter Algebraic. When it’s released, it will cost 99¢ and have a full suite of algebra tools. At the time of this post, it has fully working integer factorization, a semi-working polynomial solver, and a mock-up of a calculator.
Both factoring modes use Pollard’s rho algorithm, which is both extremely simple and fast. It uses the Java BigInteger class to hold the numbers, so it can handle any number you throw at it, including negatives, as long as it fits inside your phone’s memory.
Then there’s the polynomial solver. Currently, it can only solve 0th and 1st degree polynomials, but it can simplify any equation you throw at it.
At the time of this post, the calculator works just as well as a real calculator without batteries. The buttons don’t do anything – yet.
My plan is to do what most computer calculators do, but in a much more discoverable way. By default, it will have the basic layout, but if you turn your phone sideways or extend the keyboard (depending on which phone you have), it will turn into a scientific calculator.
Calculator mode will use the same custom algebra library as the polynomial solver.
I’m also planning on adding a graphing mode to Algebraic.
So, what do you think? Is there something you’d do differently? Would you buy Algebraic for 99¢?