Wolfram Alpha, the “computational knowledge engine” with a name that rolls right off the tongue, has until now lived solely as a Web site that can provide cool data results to certain queries. Now, though, iPhone and iPod touch owners can avail themselves of a brand spankin’ new $50 Wolfram Alpha app.
No, that’s not a typo. With the $50 price point, you get access to all of the knowledge that the Web site searches today. You can ask Wolfram Alpha to compute plain-language problems as diverse as “mother’s father’s nephew” or “9 years six months twelve days from yesterday” or even “population density United States vs France.” You can also feed it mathematical queries that, frankly, I can barely understand (let alone figure out what the answers mean), like “taylor series x^2 sin^3(x)”—and that’s the kind of question that you need answered wherever you are, on the go.
The app, which requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later, displays Wolfram Alpha’s standard high-quality charts and graphs, with the overall experience customized for the iPhone. A special, nearly full-screen keyboard makes it easier to type in those math queries that boggle my mind, and could position the app as a rival for some graphing calculators.
Interestingly, the iPhone app was built using the recently-released Wolfram Alpha public API, so in theory an enterprising developer could build a competing iPhone app, and price it at the relatively bargain-basement price of just $45.