iPhone Life magazine

Apps: Reference

Bing for iPad -- free app offers a great portal to content

Last week Microsoft released Bing for iPad, and the reviews and App Store Customer Reviews are generally ecstatic. It's important to realize that this isn't just a search app. It's a  portal that offers news, weather, trending topics, movie listings, trending topics, maps, traffic updates, and more. And of course it offers searching, including local search and speech recognition. All of this is presented in an attractive format that makes very effective use of swiping to let you quickly browse through a lot of content.



Bing -- free app from Microsoft lets you search via speech recognition

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I've been looking at the wide range of speech recognition apps for an article I'm working on for the magazine. Bing (free) is one that I haven't yet mentioned. As you likely know, Bing is Microsoft's powerful search engine. Microsoft calls it a “decision engine” that you can use to find information, restaurants and other businesses, images, show times, travel deals, flight information, weather forecasts, and walking or driving directions.



Dictionary.com -- free dictionary and thesaurus app offers speech recognition

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The free Dictionary.com app has nearly 1 million words and definitions, and it can be used offline. Like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (also free), it now also lets you simply speak the word that you want to look up. It's powered by Nuance's highly accurate speech recognition technology. To use the speech feature, you'll need to have an Internet connection.



Google Search -- free search app now has new interface

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Last week Google released a new version of Google Search (free). This is a great app, with voice search and the Google Goggles feature that lets you search by taking a picture. The update has implemented a new interface that's pretty cool. If you swipe right in the search results, you'll get a menu along the left (as in the image) that lets you refine your search. Check out this video demo on PocketNow.



Google Translate (free) -- speak what you want translated, and it then speaks back translation

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I can't believe I missed the release of Google Translate (free) last month. Or maybe I assumed it was just another app for text translation. But it is so much cooler than that. It can also do speech recognition, such that you canspeak the phrase or sentences that you want translated, and it will speak back to you the phrase or sentences in the target language. It's fun to play with. When you speak the text, it shows on-screen what it thought you said as well as a text translation. Then if you tap the speaker icon, it speaks the text.



Art Authority -- top iPad app for art lovers adds location-based feature

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If you're an art lover, what would be better than a tool that tells you what famous paintings are nearby when you're traveling? Art Authority for iPad ($9.99) is a popular app with over 50,000 paintings and sculptures from ancient times to today organized into 8 rooms. I love these sorts of resources that are coming to the iPad.



Hyper Facts -- new reference app gives you access to over 9 million facts

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The Wikipanion app is one that I use often, and I'm always on the lookout for good reference apps. Hyper Facts ($0.99) is a new offering that gives you access to Wikipedia in a new way, in that it highlights the categories and infoboxes associated with each article as well as giving links to related information. It also integrates locational information and maps. You can do a search by person, location, event, or work (e.g., a song title), or you can search All. The Nearby feature is pretty cool.



Click, Crack, Eat Lobster!

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You knew someone had to do it.  So here it is, iLobster ($1.99) by Ben Greeley from up in the Waterville area here in Maine.  There is also a free version, so what is the difference?  Probably a 1/4 cup of melted butter and lobster juice down the front of your shirt.  



Free Merriam-Webster dictionary app adds voice search

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The paradox of dictionaries has always been: how do you look up a word if you don't know how to spell it? My students with dyslexia had an especially difficult time with this. And now the solution is at hand — and free. The most powerful voice recognition technology, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, has now been added to the free Merriam-Webster Dictionary app. You can look up a word simply by saying it. Hurray!



Top 5 apps of 2010

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It's that time of year when we get very helpful "Best of" lists, and Cody Willard of MarketWatch has again put together some lists of top 5 apps: top apps, top games, top free apps, top iPad apps, and top iPad games. He highlighted Bing as one of his top free apps, and for some reason this app had slipped under my radar. I'm definitely going to give it a try.



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