WolframAlpha is an extremely powerful and thorough search and calculation engine. The service is available on a variety of platforms, including the internet, but there are also apps to use it on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile for $2.99.
It is, in a sense, a search engine but rather than just searching the web for answers it calculates the answers. So instead of relying on finding a forum or website to find the answers, you're relying on WolframAlpha's dynamic computing.
It's worth pointing out that the name including "Alpha" is not at all connected to the stage of development the service or app is in.
What you can search
WolframAlpha has a long list of topics and areas you can search but a common set of uses is mathematics and engineering. It helps you with algebra, calculus, physics, chemistry, engineering, astronomy, Earth science, computational science, and much more.
If you need to do any type of calculations it's worth seeing if WolframAlpha can handle it. When you enter a query into WolframAlpha you get data displayed in multiple ways. For example, if you enter "derivative of x^4 sin x" you get plots, alternate forms, indefinite integrals, and numerical roots. If you enter a weight loss calculation you get multiple sets of data to help you understand the answer.
App Specific Features
As mentioned earlier, WolframAlpha is available on the web and the app needs the web to function so you have to weigh if it's worth purchasing or using the web app. There are some advantages to the app that make it worth considering for purchase.
A handy feature is the math keyboard available for entering equations. It allows you to easily access a variety of characters and mathematic symbols that would be a pain to find on a regular keyboard. To get that same keyboard on the web you need to get WolframAlpha Pro, which comes at an extra cost.
Where it can improve
WolframAlpha is powerful but it isn't perfect. The app needs a design overhaul to match the Windows 10 design language. Characters and icons are too small on some devices and it's clear that this app was designed a long time ago. Additionally, not being optimized for Windows 10 makes the app miss out on things like Cortana integration.
Aside from design and OS integration, WolframAlpha does run into a timing out issue where you have to resubmit calculations. This happened a few times in our testing of the app but after resubmitting once or twice seemed to work fine.
Summing things up
WolframAlpha is a standard tool for students, mathematicians, and engineers. Its support in problem solving and statistics is wide and helps people in a variety of areas. If you're going back to school or university, or have a job where you need to do a lot of calculations, WolframAlpha is worth a look.
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