A New Way to Type—On the Wolfram|Alpha App
Version 1.1 of the Wolfram|Alpha App for the iPhone & iPod is now available in the App Store. The new version includes a number of new features that continue to improve the app’s unique mobile Wolfram|Alpha experience. Perhaps its most iconic feature, the specialized keyboards that greet you when you first open the Wolfram|Alpha App, have been painstakingly constructed to ease the burden of entering queries, whether you’re converting from pounds to euros or computing a numerical value for the Weierstrass p-function . Our goal in creating these keyboards was to form families of characters that naturally occur together both in common use and in traditional mathematical applications. We also wanted mathematical expressions to look and feel natural to enhance usability and understanding. Version 1.1 has four specialized keyboards: the default keyboard, the “math” keyboard accessed by the right-shift key , the “Greek” keyboard accessed by one press of the left-shift key , and the “symbol” keyboard accessed by a second press of the left-shift key.
To determine the optimal keyboard layout, we scoured Wolfram|Alpha’s server logs for the most commonly entered phrases that have characters with meaning in Wolfram|Alpha. Given that Wolfram|Alpha is built on Mathematica, one of its core strengths is advanced mathematics. True to form most of the commonly typed characters are related to math. For example, you would generally type the word “integrate” to compute an integral on the Wolfram|Alpha website. In the Wolfram|Alpha App you could simply type the key on the math keyboard. The same is true for other symbols common in math, such as and . Specifying geometric shapes, such as a triangle, is straightforward as well.
With the specialized keyboards, currency conversions (accessed by a press-hold popup on the key) are exceptionally easy, as is finding the positions of the planets, or looking at the population of males in the U.K.
Sums, limits, integrals, and derivatives can be expressed in their natural forms.
The keyboards also allow you to enter a formula naturally, such as for Ohm’s law and frequency-wavelength relationships, and you can properly refer to units, physical constants, and elementary particles.
Of course, you can do advanced mathematics, as well.
This is just a small fraction of the ways the specialized keyboards make the Wolfram|Alpha App more useful. Give it a try, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself leaving your calculator at home.