Over at LockerGnome’s new YouTube channel, Questions to Answer, Gnomie Gabe asks: “Much like the Kindle is starting to make the textbook obsolete, do you think iPhones and other Android devices and iPads will replace the graphing calculator?” Brandon responds:
“While this might happen someday, it’s actually rather surprising that [something like] a TI-85 is very optimized for the types of calculations that it does. It’s actually a lot faster than doing [calculations] in emulation on one of the iPhones.
“I have an old HP reverse Polish notation graphing calculator, and it was blazing fast for plotting things — even in three dimensions. Doing the emulator on a 3 GHz pentium computer was a lot slower, and you have to think about how much power a computer has vs. how much power an iPhone has. So it’s possible we may get to a point where people are, like, ‘yes, I just bought a $200 phone instead of a $300 calculator,’ but I think we’re a ways away from it.
“I’ve also never see the programming languages available on an iPhone or Android device that let you write the code on the device. I used to write programs on the calculator and then run them. So I think we’re a little ways away from the iPhone replacing graphing calculators; I know that’s what everybody wants, but it’s probably more likely that what we’ll see is that, because you don’t use your graphing calculator 20 hours a day, or eight hours a day, or probably more than two hours a day, we’ll probably see graphing calculator apps live up in the cloud. It would make a lot of sense that you’d have an app on the iPhone that [could] talk to a very fast computer up in the cloud and run it as more or less a Web application.”
What do you think?
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