By Tech Powered Dad | June 17, 2011
Not too long ago, I reviewed Mathematica 8 from a novice’s perspective. About that time it started becoming clear that,Wolfram, maker of Mathematica, was starting to get interested in app development. Their first major app was an iOS version of Wolfram Alpha, available on both the iPhone and iPad as well as Android. If you’ve never heard of Wolfram Alpha, I suggest you start by check out the Wolfram Alpha site, which has been around for years. Essentially, it’s a “computational search engine,” meaning it can perform calculations like a graphing calculator or answer questions like “what’s 2 apples plus one orange?” I recently plunked down my $1.99 so I could write a Wolfram Alpha review, using the iPad version throughout.
Different Isn’t Better
Basically, what I found is that the Wolfram Alpha app is pretty darn close to the website. In fact, I tried several searches on my laptop and through the app, and the results were identical, so I assume the app is just pulling it’s info straight from the same source as the website. You might ask as I did then, what’s the point of the app?
There are two reasons I’d choose this app. First, the Wolfram Alpha website is clunky in Safari. I tried navigating a simple graphing calculation using Safari. It still worked, but it was a major pain in the rear to use the iOS keyboard in order to enter the calculation. I had to keep switching between ABC, .?123, and #+= just to to a simple equation. It also seemed to render much slower than the app once it was finally inputting it. With the Wolfram Alpha app, the custom keyboard had all the keys I needed to quickly enter my search without a lot of jumping between keyboard views.
Second, I really liked the how the examples are set out on the app compared to the website. Using the app, I could see all kind of options for search queries that Wolfram Alpha would recognize like sports, food, and music. There is an option to click over to examples on the website, but I really like how I don’t have to switch screens on the app.
Bottom Line Wolfram Alpha App Review
This is a really cool app. It’s a great example of an app with serious utility for math and science students as well as plenty of fun features that will allow you to kill a few minutes will waiting in line. I’ve heard rumors that the original price was somewhere around $50 which would be a lot tougher to justify, but at $1.99 it’s actually underpriced. It’s easy to recommend because I feel like it’s worth at least five times it’s current price.