February 8, 2012
Siri Comprises 25% Of All Wolfram Alpha Searches
Apple´s Siri virtual assistant now accounts for one-quarter of all queries made on the computational search engine Wolfram Alpha, the New York Times reported on Monday in a profile of the search engine´s upcoming premium service.
Wolfram Alpha is the invention of Mathematica creator Stephen Wolfram.
Less than three years ago, the 52-year-old scientist and software designer sought to build a new kind of search engine that, unlike Google or Bing, did not scavenge the Web but instead culled its own curated database to locate answers.
Wolfram Alpha currently powers a free service that works with the iPhone 4S to provide Siri´s go-to resource for data.
However, a new, premium version of Wolfram Alpha, dubbed Wolfram Alpha Pro, is set to arrive on Wednesday at a price of $4.95 per month ($2.99 for students). The new service, which Dr. Wolfram describes as the next step of what can be done with his approach, includes abilities above and beyond what has been offered in the past in terms of handling data and images.
For instance, Wolfram Alpha Pro allows users to take inputs from up to 60 different data formats, including binary structures of data files, images copied and pasted, and queries as simple as “what´s the capital of Massachusetts?”
In addition to searching Wolfram Alpha´s own data banks, it can query the data users input as well, and lets users manipulate data that Wolfram Alpha Pro outputs.
“We´re not just dealing with knowledge from the world at large, we´re also dealing with a kind of individual knowledge that people have, and take data that people have, and upload it, and allow them to dip into it. “¦ You take the data, throw it at Wolfram Alpha Pro, and see what it has to say about it,” said Dr. Wolfram.
This entire process is done with Computational Document Format, which allows users to interact with their data rather than just have Wolfram Alpha output a static report.
Wolfram Alpha Pro even launches a viewer for some data sets that allows users to change the scales of graphs, manipulate data based on the output, and more.
WA Pro versions for mobile are expected to be available soon. In the meantime, interested users can participate in the Wolfram Alpha Pro beta testing program right away.
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