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WolframAlpha

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Where do you start to review an app that does everything? WolframAlpha is a powerful answer engine which aims to ‘make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone capable’. The app shouldn’t be mistaken for a search engine even though it looks like one. It is an informational tool that delivers specific answers calculated from the data gathered from all the information related to your questions. Kids can learn anything because it covers a variety of subjects but they need to learn how to ask the right questions. WolframAlpha receives 4 stars EAS Certification for being a very reliable reference tool.

Teacher Review

The app features a very clean and practical design. The screen is divided into two sections: The left side is used for a number of features including example searches to give you an idea of how to ask questions, a search history tab, favourite searches and a section about the company.  Under the ‘About’ tab you will find s short introduction video and tips for good results. The right side is dedicated to the search bar and the results from your search. On the top right of the screen (we’re testing the iPad version) there is a button that allows you to add to favourites your search results or to share them on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Having more than ’50,000+ types of algorithms & equations, 10+ trillion pieces of data, linguistic analysis for 1000+ domains and running on more than 10,000 CPUs’ gives you a clear idea of how powerful is the tool you own...for just £1.99 (the first time the app was released  it had a price tag of $50 but soon dropped). Obviously you need an Internet connection to use the app, the app being just a front end for mobile devices to access the vast computational algorithms available on their website. So what are the advantages of using the app? We think it offers a better user experience by having extra features (a search history, saving favourites) and being somehow faster than the browser tool. 
 
The custom search keyboard fills most of the screen mainly because it includes both the letter and numerical keyboard. Searching is easy and when entering a search query the app shows under the search bar word suggestions to help the search and make it quicker. When we typed the term ‘general’ the app suggested terms like ‘general electric’, ‘general relativity’ and even ‘general tso’s chicken’; each search response is presented very clear under the search bar and it looks very good on tablets.
 
Example searches are organized into different categories like Mathematics, Life Sciences, Weather& Meteorology, Music, Culture & Media, Colours, Education. We chose Mathematics and we found an extensive list of information related to elementary maths, number theory, graphics, algebra, geometry, functions, and math problems. The answers provided include definitions, graphs, charts, and data tables and go much further offering extended answers.
 
The learning potential lies with the user. As a reference tool it provides the answers you are looking for and it can be used to cover most of the curriculum topics. Learning to collect data and analyzing your search results will develop their thinking, organisational and communication skills. Visual presentations are included where necessary and they will help children with their math problems, chemistry, physics and other subjects. They can easily organize the information they gathered into favourites so it is easy to come back to it when need it.
 
While most of our serious questions were answered (‘mass of an apple’, ‘next moon eclipse’, ‘synonym obstreperous’,  ‘boiling point of lead, ‘gold atomic number’) we had some unexpected and fun results with others (the closest interpretation for ‘chocolate recipe’ was chocolate as a colour).  Kids will try it to amuse themselves by searching incoherent facts but once they realise that the app won’t be able to interpret most of their inputs will soon stop. 
 
Having access to such a vast container of knowledge is beneficial for school use if it will be integrated in their school activities as a tool for finding relevant information. It fits perfectly with students who want to explore different topics as long as they understand that questions need to be correctly formulated to get useful answers. WolframAlpha receives 4 stars EAS Certification because as long as the information you are looking for is available you will for sure find it and we think it’s a bargain at £1.99.

Screenshots

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From the Developer

WolframAlpha: Get answers. Access expert knowledge. Wherever you are.

Remember the Star Trek computer? It's finally happening--with Wolfram|Alpha. Building on 25 years of development led by Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram|Alpha has rapidly become the world's definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation.

Across thousands of domains--with more continually added--Wolfram|Alpha uses its vast collection of algorithms and data to compute answers and generate reports for you.

Parts of Wolfram|Alpha are used in the Apple Siri Assistant; this app gives you access to the full power of the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine. Domains covered by Wolfram|Alpha include:

MATHEMATICS
Elementary Math
Numbers
Plotting
Algebra
Matrices
Calculus
Geometry
Trigonometry
Discrete Math
Number Theory
Applied Math
Logic Functions
Definitions

STATISTICS & DATA ANALYSIS
Descriptive Statistics
Regression
Statistical Distributions
Probability

PHYSICS
Mechanics
Electricity & Magnetism
Optics
Thermodynamics
Relativity
Nuclear Physics
Quantum Physics
Particle Physics
Statistical Physics
Astrophysics
Physical Constants

CHEMISTRY
Elements
Compounds
Ions
Quantities
Solutions
Reactions
Chemical Thermodynamics
Protecting Groups

MATERIALS
Alloys
Minerals
Crystallography
Plastics
Woods
Bulk Materials

ENGINEERING
Acoustics
Aeronautics
Electric Circuits
Fluid Mechanics
Steam Tables
Psychrometrics
Refrigeration
Structures

ASTRONOMY
Star Charts
Astronomical Events
Planets
Moons
Minor Planets
Comets
Space Weather
Stars
Pulsars
Galaxies
Star Clusters
Nebulae
Astrophysics

EARTH SCIENCE
Geology
Geochronology
Geodesy
Earthquakes
Tide Data
Atmosphere
Climate

LIFE SCIENCES
Animals & Plants
Dinosaurs
DNA Sequence Lookup
SNPs
Proteins
Human, Mouse & Fruit Fly Genomes
Metabolic Pathways

COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCES
Cellular Automata
Substitution Systems
Turing Machines
Computational Complexity
Algebraic Codes
Fractals
Mathematica
Image Processing

UNITS & MEASURES
Conversions
Comparisons
Dimensional Analysis
Industrial Measures
Batteries
Bulk Materials
Paint

DATES & TIMES
Date Computations
Time Zones
Calendars
Holidays
Geological Time

WEATHER
Current & Historical Weather
Forecasts
Wind Chill
Hurricanes
Clouds
Climate

PLACES & GEOGRAPHY
Maps
Projections
Geodesy
Navigation
Distances
Geomagnetism
Geocoding
Countries
Cities
Elevation Data
Oceans
Lakes
Rivers
Islands
Mountains

PEOPLE & HISTORY
People
Genealogy
Names
Occupations
Political Leaders
Historical Events, Periods & Countries
Historical Numerals & Money

CULTURE & MEDIA
Books
Periodicals
Movies
Video Games
Fictional Characters
Mythology
Television Networks & Programs
Awards

MUSIC
Musical Notes
Intervals
Chords
Scales
Audio Waveforms
Instruments
Songs

WORDS & LINGUISTICS
Word Properties
Dictionary Lookup
Word Puzzles
Anagrams
Languages
Document Length
Morse Code
Soundex
Number Names

SPORTS & GAMES
Football
Baseball
Olympics
Stadiums
Lotteries
Card Games

COLORS
Color Names & Systems
Color Addition
Temperatures
Wavelengths

MONEY & FINANCE
Stock Data
Indices
Mutual Funds
Futures
Mortgages
Present Value
Currency Conversion
Tips
Bonds
Derivatives Valuation
Wages
Sales Tax

SOCIOECONOMIC DATA
Demographics
Countries
US States
US Counties
Cities
Economics
Agriculture
Energy
Salaries
Unemployment
Cost of Living
Health Care
Housing
Social Statistics
Crime
Military
Religion

HEALTH & MEDICINE
Body Measurements
Growth Charts
Exercise
Diseases
Mortality Data
Medical Test Data
Teeth
Vision
Drug Data
Hospitals

FOOD & NUTRITION
Foods
Dietary
References

EDUCATION
International Education
Universities
School Districts
Public Schools
Standardized Tests

ORGANIZATIONS
Companies
Hospitals
Foundations
International Organizations

TRANSPORTATION
Airports
Airlines
Aircraft
Flight Data
Road Transport
Gasoline Prices
Bridges
Tunnels
Tides

TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD
Communications
Satellites
Space Probes
Photography
Barcodes

WEB & COMPUTER SYSTEMS
Website Data
IP Lookup
Notable Computers
Data Transfer
Port Numbering
String Processing
Hashing
Unicode Lookup

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