WolframAlpha has announced that they have brought a new feature to their computational knowledge engine. The service now helps users with their shopping by integrating Best Buy’s public APIs in order to deliver data on a wide variety of products. What’s more, the service’s integration with Siri means that shoppers with an iPhone 4S can now price products just by speaking into their phones.
Product searches bring up a wealth of data, including the number of available models for a particular kind of device, the price range, physical dimensions, and various features.
While the array of results for products or categories that WolframAlpha finds is amazing, the service can be a bit finicky about which search terms it accepts. Search terms that are either very general or very specific are best. For example, a search for “TVs” or “high definition televisions” brings up results, while a search for LCD televisions, or LCD TVs, brings up an error, as does searching for a specific model, like “Panasonic Viera” or “Sony Bravia.” Similarly, a search for “tablet computers” or “blackberry tablets” will bring up results, as do searches for “iPhone” or “iPad,” but ask about a “Galaxy Tab” or “Galaxy Nexus” and Wolfram thinks you’re talking about, well, galaxies.
These results are fairly consistent across platforms, with Siri returning the same kinds of errors as a search on WolframAlpha.com. The main difference between the two is that on Siri searches must be prefaced with the word “Wolfram” in order to signal to Siri that you want results from WolframAlpha, and aren’t making some other kind of request. Also, when WolframAlpha's web portal couldn't find something, it returned a simple error message, while Siri helpfully offered to run a regular web search.
What do you think of Wolfram’s new feature? Will you use it for shopping? Try it and let us know what you think in the comments.