Wolfram|Alpha Brings its Mobile Apps to PC


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Wolfram|Alpha announced this week that their line of mobile apps will be made available on PC's. The apps will be sold in Intel's app marketplace, AppUp. The Wolfram|Alpha app is already available in AppUp for the price of $2.99. Other apps that will be made available this year include course assistant apps for subjects such as calculus, astronomy, and music theory; reference apps for U.S. states, gaming odds, and fractals; and professional assistant apps for network administrators and lawyers.

"We're delighted to bring the polished UI from our mobile and tablet devices to the PC, specifically laptops and Ultrabooks™," said Luc Barthelet, executive director of Wolfram|Alpha. "We have a growing line of mobile apps and are looking forward to bringing all of them to the AppUp center by the end of the year."

Wolfram|Alpha's apps are based on the Wolfram|Alpha "search" engine that isn't really a search engine in the traditional sense. The engine takes queries, computations, and other information and uses it to do dynamic computations and provide a plethora of answers in an easily understandable format which often includes graphs and images. For example, a search for "2 + 2" will provide four variations on the representation of the number 4, as well as the average time it takes 6, 8, 10, and 18-year-olds to solve the equation. It is extremely useful for getting homework help, and even includes a "show steps" option for results.

Wolfram|Alpha states that their goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. There are a wide variety of ways to use the engine, most recently to analyze your email.

I must admit that I'm having difficulty understanding the usefulness of a PC app for Wolfram|Alpha. Mobile devices require a touch interface and location information could be used by the knowledge engine to better refine results. On a PC, however, Wolfram|Alpha on the web provides all of the functionality that an app would. What do you think? Does an "app" on PC provide any benefits that a website can't? Is this just a symptom of the app craze that Apple started? Leave a comment below and let me know.