Wolfram Alpha, the self-styled answer engine, has launched an App for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Wolfram Alpha is being billed as an ‘online computational knowledge engine’. Its makers claim it differs from conventional web search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo! by ‘plugging into Wolfram Alpha’s supercomputing cloud’ to deliver results from the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine that powers its website, directly to the iPhone.
The company claims that the App can provide expert-level answers to freeform questions, such as the location of a satellite above the earth at a particular time. The App also includes dynamically generated graphics that it says will help illustrate the answer.
‘As a calculator, it’s unparalleled – solving and visualizing complex mathematics that would choke a premium scientific calculator. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg,’ said Schoeller Porter, architect for Wolfram Alpha.
Download Wolfram Alpha iPhone App
Wolfram claims that the App provides access to thousands of domains of knowledge, covering mathematics, science, engineering, health and nutrition, geography, economics, linguistics, people and history, sports and music.
‘The App will tell you how much vitamin C is in a pint of ice cream, your likely risk of heart disease based on your cholesterol levels, how many Yen are in a Euro based on the current exchange rate, the average rainfall totals for Paris as compared to London and what time the sun will rise in three weeks,’ said Porter.
Wolfram Alpha impressions
However, the App has caused complaints from iPhone users over its pricing. On sale in the US for $50, it effectively gives access to Wolfram Alpha’s free-to-use website – causing iPhone users to challenge the pricing.
‘It certainly isn’t cheap by iPhone App standards, especially as you can use the website for free,’ says Which? technology editor Matt Bath. ‘When we looked at the Wolfram Alpha website earlier this year, we found it wasn’t for the faint-hearted. Those expecting a search engine on a par with Google will be disappointed, as it is geared more towards expert answers to mathematical and scientific questions.’
In addition, the App is location-aware using the iPhone’s GPS and Wi-Fi internet address so can tailor results according to your location. However, at $50 (£33) the Wolfram Alpha App doesn’t come cheap.
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