What a Response to the Wolfram|Alpha iPhone App!
In case you yet haven’t yet heard: the Wolfram|Alpha App for the iPhone and iPod touch is now available. An enormous amount of effort went into creating this app. Thanks to the entire team for all your work.
The news broke last night and has continued today on many different sites: Mashable, Mobile Tech Addicts, Gizmodo, Rafe’s Radar on CNET, Search Engine Land, Download Squad, Daring Fireball, and many others. We certainly liked hearing…
“The mathematical and scientific information is really outstanding and it’s pretty mind-blowing the sorts of data you can extrapolate and the sorts of information that you can get back. Ultimately, this app showcases the very real potential Wolfram|Alpha has.” Christina Warren, Mashable
“I found in testing it over the weekend that I would be much more inclined to use the iPhone version than the online version of the engine. I would even say it was more ‘fun.’” Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land
“The app does the kind of high-level math that would make Texas Instruments weep. If you’re a student or someone in a math-intensive technical field, it might rock your world.” Jay Hathaway, Download Squad
“…I’m glad they’ve set the price high. There’s widespread consensus that the current race-to-the-bottom in App Store pricing discourages the development of deep, significant applications.” John Gruber, Daring Fireball
It may have been @Scobleizer’s tweet that got the Twittersphere aflutter. Much can be said in 140-characters.
@RichClaing “If ur in college 4 business or the sciences this is a must have”
@amudi “wolfram alpha for iPhone is like skynet in your pocket, fifty bucks!”
@matthewhaney “Amazing new application for the Iphone – Wolfram Alpha”
@shoshido “is actually considering this droolworthy app”
@BlackmanExpress “Check this new IPhone app out, it’s quite astonishing”
We first introduced the public Wolfram|Alpha technology on May 15, 2009, through our free, public website. Wolfram|Alpha represents hundreds of man-years of capital and effort to build, and today is maintained by hundreds of staff continually adding and verifying data and algorithms, and is backed by a supercomputer-class infrastructure.
One of our goals with Wolfram|Alpha is to democratize access to knowledge, and we are absolutely thrilled that people have discovered the site and found it interesting and useful. We intend to keep the website available and free, and we expect that people around the globe will continue to use Wolfram|Alpha through the browser, even on mobile devices.
The mobile environment is particularly challenging for applications. Modern mobile devices simply don’t have the horsepower or memory to do the kinds of computations that sizzle with Wolfram|Alpha. Data is only part of the puzzle. It takes enormous computing power to drive the computations and visualizations that Wofram|Alpha delivers. Only by calling on the Wolfram|Alpha API is it possible to bring this power to mobile devices.
We spent many hours contemplating and experimenting with Wolfram|Alpha in the mobile environment to explore how one interacts with it, how results are displayed and formatted, how one would share the interesting insights discovered, and how all of this would work in such a small space. We have tuned the Wolfram|Alpha iPhone app to meet the specific challenges of the mobile environment—everything from the formatting to introducing a tailored-to-the-iPhone keyboard. There are many things we have done to make the app better, and we are pleased that it seems we have gotten many right. Universally, people have told us that the experience of using the app draws them into using Wolfram|Alpha more and discovering new insights. It’s no secret that most apps are throwaways––used only for a month or less. We fully expect that people’s use of the Wolfram|Alpha app will grow as they use it and as they find more ways of incorporating it into their daily lives.
The Wolfram|Alpha app makes the iPhone a convenient and powerful mobile computing system that can be used as a scientific calculator (I will miss my HP 48G); as any one of a zillion tip, mortgage, exchange rate, and fitness calculators; as a weather app, an economics app, a financial analysis app, a movie and entertainment app, and a star-finding app; and much more. But beyond that, the Wolfram|Alpha app lets you explore a world of knowledge that you may not have know you needed, some of which may even seem silly until you find it. By the way, December 8–20 looks like a great time to hold a surfing competition in Oahu. Who knew? (It looks like the folks organizing the Billabong Pipeline Masters had already figured this out.)
We really look forward to continuing this conversation.