07
Apr
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Could it be? Is Amazon offering another useful app that I actually want to own for the 2nd day in a row? That's pretty much a first so far, with the Shazam Encore/SwiftKey tag team being a close second. What makes today's deal especially valuable is that there is no free version of Wolfram Alpha at all, so combined with 4.7 stars and over 1,800 reviews in the official Market, getting today's free app right away is pretty much a no-brainer.

When Wolfram Alpha was introduced back in 2009, it sent shockwaves through the Internet and the scientific community due to its incredible artificial intelligence and instant usefulness in myriads of both highly scientific and day-to-day computations. In fact, it was so ground-breaking that Popular Science named it the greatest computer innovation of 2009.

So, what kind of questions can Wolfram Alpha answer? If you haven't played with it before, you may be surprised, shocked, excited, or all of the above.

From Wikipedia:

The following are examples of queries using Wolfram Alpha. They are accompanied by links to the results of each search to illustrate the variety of answers that Wolfram Alpha provides to non-specific queries.

  • mortgage 6%, 25 year, $140000 displays, among other things, repayment rates and graphs that represent capital vs. interest over time.
  • life expectancy france 25 year old male which gives a survival analysis for a person of the given demographic.
  • boiling point of water at 6 atm which returns a phase diagram alongside the result of 432.6 Kelvins.
  • lim(x->0) x/sin x yields the expected result, 1, a plot, and the series expansion. The button "show steps" provides a possible derivation of the result using L'Hôpital's rule.

Wolfram Alpha is also capable of responding to increasingly complex, natural-language fact-based questions such as:

  • "Where was Mary Robinson born?"
  • "How old was Queen Elizabeth II in 1974?"
  • "What is the forty-eighth smallest country by GDP per capita?" yields Sao Tome and Principe, $1110 per year.

Also, one can input the name of a website, and it will return relevant information about the site, including its hosting location, site rank, number of visitors and more.

From the app's description:

  • Sunset Orlando two months from today
  • Skychart at 8:00pm
  • Words containing letters mpg
  • Weather in Honolulu when Obama was born
  • 4th largest child population in Europe
  • Distance to moon / length AAA battery
  • MSFT vs GM vs Citi
  • Integrate x sin x log x
  • y'' + sin y = cos x
  • Pentane + O2 -> CO2 + water
  • Young's modulus AISI 1080 steel

Impressed yet? Yeah, I thought so.

Today, all this knowledge, wrapped in a nice Android interface which usually costs $1.99, is free. Really, there should be no hesitation around scooping Wolfram Alpha up - you'll be surprised how often you'll be using it once it's installed on your device.

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Source: WolframAlpha

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • lavdzoj

    Glad you've liked the app Artem. However I wanted to express a different opinion. I'm sure the engine works fine for many people, given the amount of positive reviews, however there are 3 things to note here:

    1) the app uses a custom default keyboard interface that clouds the entire screen since it shows both letters and numbers. Some people like myself are using their own custom interface (such as SlideIt in my case), which makes text input actually slower in this case. Also, when the phone is turned sideways, the key clutter makes the keys only wider, thus not making the input much easier. All this is obviously very subjective but is far from perfect.

    2) Many people at Android market have wondered why were they actually paying for an app that provided the very same functionality available from the web page, which is optimized for mobile access to boot. In other words there is no additional functionality involved in the app - one may as well make a bookmark to the m.wolframalpha.com and use that one instead - for free and without installing an additional app.

    3) As for the "amazing" artificial intelligence... Well i haven't tested it for mathematics nor do i care to because most my online searches involve history, arts and politics. However given these, it has failed more times than not, especially if one searches outside of anglo-saxon cultural scope. Some of the failed examples include:
    - "who fought at red cliff" - wolfram fails hopelessly at yielding any data for the most important battle in history of Asia and one of the greatest ones in all history - the only data given pertain to the John Woo's movie (!)
    - "size of roman colosseum" - wolfram happily ignores the word colosseum or most of the variants - only giving one measly piece of information when the term is changed to "coliseum". Naturally the query was about one of the most important architectural achievements in history.
    - "where was nikola tesla born" yields "Croatia" as the answer and a plethora of useless modern statistics, however the genius's real birthplace of village Smiljani is ignored. Again we're talking about one of the greatest scientific minds in human history.
    -"battle of river neretva", the query of one of the most important battles in the Balkans during WWII, the outcome of which ensured survival for the future Yugoslavian government which in turn provided a leverage against the Soviet penetration under Stalin's regime which in turn influenced much of the cold war, yields ... some geographical data about the river alone (!).

    Now all these failed searches when put into google yielded excellent results from the very first result listed. So much for the "incredible" artificial intelligence of wolfram alpha. In any case, my point is that be it as good for many people as it may, it's far from amazing for some.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      To address your 1st issue - there's a setting in the app that allows switching back to the regular keyboard, so it's not really an issue.

      Second is quite true, but a lot of people prefer a more native feel, additional menu options, such as history, favorites, sending of GPS location data for more relevant results, and that optional expanded keyboard. But yeah, you can use the mobile view if you like - it's probably not as efficient, but would yield the same results for the most part.

      As for your third point, sure, there are a lot of things their engine won't get - you kind of have to get adjusted to it, but the things it does get and the analysis behind them are sometimes beyond amazing.

  • ari-free

    This is very important for math and science, which everyone needs to know.

  • fenfir

    Can we please move the Amazon Free App-a-Day to a standing column on the side bar, similar to "Deal of the Week", instead of the normal story stream?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I'm afraid we will stick to this format for now, but only report on quality apps, like we've been doing so far, skipping over the crap.

  • Michael Campbell

    I find lavdzoj' reply absurd.

    Stephen Wolfram is, by trade, a computer scientist, physicist, and mathematician, so it would make sense that stuff he does is skewed towards mathematics and related fields.

    lavdzoj decides to completely dismiss the main feature of the app/site and poke into the dark corners and find fault there? Really?

    It's akin to saying, "I don't know why these ``Formula One'' cars are considered so highly. I haven't tested driving one, nor do I care to, as my needs are around listening to music, and the AM radio in them is non-existent!"

    Well, yeah.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Excellent response - WA is more of a niche query engine than a general search engine, and that's its main strength and weakness at the same time.

  • mugabo

    1. I will not use the Amazon App Store unless they remove the "1-click purchase" requirement.
    2. Wolfram Alpha is to scientific consumers like Wikipedia is to high school essayists; here is the answer but I don't comprehend how I got it; here is the magical answer (I'm feeling lucky).
    3. Anybody remember when this app was $99? So much fumbling as to your absurdly wild pricing automatically dismisses you. Let me guess, the app also wants fine GPS coordinates and access to my address book? No thanks, I'd rather research it myself rather than being a lazy git.

    • Ed Messa

      Cool story, bro.

    • John J

      Is that a serious post?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      "Anybody remember when this app was $99? So much fumbling as to your absurdly wild pricing automatically dismisses you."

      Uhh, no? http://mashable.com/2010/10/06/wolfram-alpha-android/

      And the GPS permissions are used within the app to provide more accurate responses to your location. If you don't like it, you can turn that feature off.

      Nice troll overall. A+

      • Tyler

        The app was 99 cents sometime in November 2010-recently. Must have been a special or something. I remember seeing it at that price.

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          99 cents is a little different than $99. Just a little.

  • Jordan

    Wow, these replies are borderline retarded. "I don't want something that's free and easy to use, FEH!"

  • Jack

    I like it. Sure, it may be similar to the online mobile version, but hell, it's free.

    Also, you can disable their custom keyboard and use your own if you want. Their keyboard doesn't cover up anything important, though, since the only thing on the screen is the search box at the top. So who cares if it takes most of the screen?

    Additionally, you can turn off the location stuff if you want.

    • John J

      I like it as well. I prefer apps to mobile web pages.

      The only time I'll probably use it is to answer some obscure question that pops up during a conversation with a friend, but it fits the bill nicely in that instance.

  • Mark

    If whiners and complainers could fly, this place would be an airport! A company decides to give an app for FREE! You don't have to sacrifice your first born or offer a pound of your flesh or give a signature in your own blood. Just here, take it. A kind gesture from us for using our product. FREEEEEEEEEEE you lot are WHINGING and COMPLAINING?? Wooooooooooooooooooow!!!! Just Wow!!!

    • mugabo

      Herpes is free, too, but I'm not going to jump all over it just because of the price.

      • Mark

        Fire is free too but you're not going to jump all over it because of the price.

        Absurd comparison is absurd. >_>

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