Pre-Xmas Sale On Wolfram iPhone App

The previous $50 price tag was probably a serious miscalculation (pun intended) by the folks at Wolfram Alpha, when they launched their iPhone app. Pricing is an art, not a science. However, for a limited time only (the remainder of the year) they have decided to put it on sale for $19.99. There was an iPhone-friendly mobile website that has been taken down to avoid the "why buy the cow when the milk is free" problem. We'll see if the $19.99 price tag is still too high. But if you're inclined to jump at this lower price point . . . act now, supplies are limited. No rainchecks. [...]

Bing Launches Wolfram Alpha Collaboration & Several New Search Features

There's a lot of news today coming out of Bing headquarters, perhaps most notably that the long-rumored partnership with Wolfram Alpha is finally coming to fruition. Bing's announcement today explains that the collaboration will cover two specific areas: nutritional information and mathematics. Nutritional Data With help from Wolfram Alpha, Bing says it can now help users make smarter diet choices. When searching for specific food items, searchers will see a new Nutrition tab that offers more information. And at the bottom of the search results page, Bing will show the nutrition facts [...]

Wolfram iPhone App Improves Upon Site Experience

There's a way in which the just-released iPhone version of Wolfram Alpha makes more sense than the web version. The web version suggests a Google-like general search engine, which it is not; it's a "computational" or "fact engine" with a more limited range of use cases. It does what it does well -- offer a range of data, calculations and statistics often in a graphical form -- but often there are also no results or no directly relevant results for general or conventional search queries. But holding Wolfram in your hand on the iPhone suggests a "calculator," which it more closely resembles [...]

Wolfram|Alpha Opens Up Paid API

Wolfram|Alpha, the very impressive fact engine, has announced their new API that will allow third-parties to access and display results from their database. The API is priced out with three tiers: Developer & Personal Use Plans Small & Medium Business Plans (up to 750,000 requests per month) Enterprise Plans (over a million requests per month) The data within Wolfram|Alpha is rich and detailed, where many search engines, universities, businesses and individuals can benefit from on some level. There have been rumors of a private API for a while now, some suspected a deal with Bin [...]

Wolfram Alpha To Enable API, Open Data To Others

Not long ago "computational engine" Wolfram Alpha struck a deal with Microsoft to license some of its data to Bing. Now, according to the Guardian UK, Wolfram is going wide with that strategy and will soon enable an API that third parties can use to create mashups or enhance their sites. This may be a step toward monetization and/or an admission that as a "search destination" it's foundering. Wolfram today has a defined range of data (see the Wikipedia list), making it unpredictable for those not familiar with its capabilities and limitations. Chris and Danny both wrote positive reviews [...]

Wolfram Alpha Updates Its Progress; Also Has Deal With Bing?

A little more than three months after its launch, Wolfram Alpha is getting smarter, bigger (in a couple ways), and busier. That's the word from Stephen Wolfram in a blog post about the site's progress so far. Not mentioned in his post is an unconfirmed report from TechCrunch that Wolfram Alpha also has a licensing deal with Bing. Wolfram says one of the main challenges his fact engine has faced so far is in how people type queries: "Close to half the time that Wolfram|Alpha doesn't give a result, it's not because it doesn't have the necessary knowledge, or can't do the necessary computat [...]

WolframAlpha Goes Halfway On iPhone Mobile Search

The WolframAlpha Blog announced they have launched an iPhone mobile friendly version of their search engine. If you visit on your iPhone, you should see an iPhone friendly home screen. It looks like this: The issue is, if you conduct any search, it doesn't give you an iPhone friendly version of the results page. Yes, the iPhone loads the normal page just find, but I find it weird to announce an iPhone version of a search engine when the search results are not specifically iPhone friendly. Here is a picture of a search results page, which I had to pinch to look g [...]

Wolfram|Alpha’s First Production Update

The Wolfram|Alpha blog announced that they will be updating their index of structured data today. In fact, they gave a very detailed explanation of what exactly they are updating. Unlike, Google, Yahoo or Bing, Wolfram's updates are not necessarily web crawls, but rather Wolfram uses sources of data to build their index and provide structured answers. Here are the details of what Wolfram|Alpha is updating: Additional linguistic forms for many types of data and questions More comparisons of composite properties (e.g. "US military vs. UK") Combined time series plots of d [...]

Wolfram Alpha Is Already Monetizing Search Results

Have a look at an Internet first: "computational knowledge ads" on Wolfram Alpha. (We can't call them "search ads" if it's not a search engine, now can we?) Gary Price tipped us to the presence of an ad for Lenovo's ThinkPad appearing on what appears to be mainly math-related queries. The screenshot above is from a search for "pi". At first, the ad only appears as the small box in the right-side column; when you mouseover the ad, the larger pop-over ad appears. I should mention that the ad only appeared the first time I ran the query. In its FAQS, Wolfram Alpha talks about accepting [...]

Wolfram Alpha Live Review: The Un-Google

The already much discussed Wolfram Alpha official launch is Monday May 18, though the company has said they plan a "soft launch" starting tonight, with access gradually becoming available to everyone throughout the weekend. Some members of the press, like myself, have been able to directly use a preview version to test it out. Expect to see a flurry of press coverage over the coming days relentlessly pursuing the angle of Wolfram Alpha being a potential "Google killer." It's not, and in fact Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, has tried to deflect the comparisons to Google [...]

Up Close With Google Squared & Some Wolfram Alpha Thoughts

One of the more interesting things to me that came out of the Google Searchology event this week was "Google Squared." It's a new search tool launching later this month that tries to build spreadsheet-like answers to anything you search for. I had a few screenshots from the event that take a deeper look that I wanted to share, plus how it compares to the forthcoming Wolfram Alpha fact engine. Google Squared (it'll launch here in the future) allows you to search, then it compiles results in tabular form -- rows and columns. For any search, Google examines the pages that it finds and tri [...]

Wolfram|Alpha To Broadcast Its Launch

Several cynical takes I read on yesterday's Google Searchology event suggest that it and related announcements are directed at stealing Wolfram|Alpha's thunder. I think that's incorrect but Google is certainly aware of the new engine's impending launch and is keeping an eye on it. For its part Wolfram is going to webcast its launch or pre-launch: We’ll be making our first attempt to go live with Wolfram|Alpha this Friday evening, May 15. We’ll start webcasting our preparations at 7pm CDT (UTC -5). We’ll work through checklists, do a final test of our infrastructure—and then, if all [...]

Official: Wolfram Alpha Launches May 18

After briefly going live yesterday, Wolfram Alpha -- the much anticipated fact engine -- was quickly shutdown. Now the company tells us that May 18 is the official launch data. For more about the service, see my write-up, Impressive: The Wolfram Alpha "Fact Engine". Postscript by Barry Schwartz: They have moved up the date to this Friday, May 15th. Read more about the launch event here. [...]

Wolfram Alpha Now Live (Er, Was Live)

Wolfram Alpha, the much anticipated fact engine, is now live. That means, you can go to and test it out for yourself. Keep in mind, Wolfram Alpha is not a Google competitor, it is a beast of its own. Do comment and let us know your thoughts. For more about this new search engine, see Danny's write up named Impressive: The Wolfram Alpha "Fact Engine". Update: Seems like Wolfram Alpha is having major issues. So they may have taken it back offline. Postscript 2: Wolfram contacted us to let us know this was just a test. A Wolfram rep said, "what people saw yesterda [...]

Impressive: The Wolfram Alpha “Fact Engine”

Much attention has been focused on the forthcoming Wolfram Alpha search service. Will it be as important as Google has become? Perhaps! A new search paradigm? Yes! Or at least a new way of gathering information. A Google-killer? Nope! But when the service launches, it should become an essential in anyone's search tool kit. Wolfram Alpha is backed by Stephen Wolfram, the noted scientist and author behind the Mathematica computational software and the book, A New Kind Of Science. The service bills itself as a "computational knowledge engine," which is a mouthful. I'd call it a "fact [...]

Wolfram Alpha Makes Public Debut

The highly anticipated Wolfram Alpha search engine made its debut today, although Google tossed in a little spoiler. The webcast was apparently difficult for some to view, but you can get impressions of what happened from Between The Lines and Bits. The site also has a new blog and Twitter account, and we'll be looking at it more closely in the near future ourselves. There's more discussion on Techmeme. Postscript: See Impressive: The Wolfram Alpha "Fact Engine", our review of the service. [...]

Google Launches Public Data Search & Charts During Wolfram Alpha Demo

During the Wolfram Alpha demonstration today, the Google Blog announced the launch of their own structured data search feature that allows you to find and compare public data. Searches such as [unemployment rate new york] will now bring up a quick answer that looks like this: Clicking on the result will take you to a more detailed graph with ways to plot other data on this charge. Below is me plotting Rockland County, New York, compared to New York State and also adding California: Google promises to add public data for answers on prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequenc [...]

How To Overhype Your Search Engine

After covering search for 13 years, I'm more than a little jaded. I've seen any number of search start-ups promise to revolutionize how we search. None of them have in the huge way they've promised, other than Google -- and it's a special case. Over the past few weeks, I've been watching Wolfram Alpha walk the same hype path so many have followed before. So I thought I'd offer a little advice, for what it's worth. Here's how to set your search service up for a disappointing fall. 1) Fail to brief those in the know: First I heard of Wolfram Alpha was on Techmeme back in March. The com [...]

Wolfram Alpha To Challenge Google?

Better Search Doesn’t Mean Beating Google from Saul Hansell at the New York Times does an excellent job breaking down the latest Google threat, or lack there of. A secret search engine named Wolfram Alpha is being designed now by Stephen Wolfram, a British mathematician. Wolfram Alpha differs from Google in that it hopes to be an answer search engine, kind of like's goal. But the "Google killer" is not only within the technology, said Hansell. It is also in Google's "success with users and advertisers" that made Google what it is today. Plus, as Hansell explains, Nova Spivack' [...]

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