Feeds
75%
Advanced English Dictionary

Advanced English Dictionary

Encyclopaedia of words

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

iPhone App Review Apple bundles a decent Dictionary application with Mac OS X, so it's surprising that it doesn't do the same with the iPhone. You may only need to consult a dictionary once in a while, but it's nice to have one handy. Putting it on a smartphone means you can always have it with you. Apple should have included one

Advanced English Dictionary Advanced English Dictionary

Advanced English Dictionary: encyclopaedia elements

It didn't, and so a number of third-party developers have attempted to fill the gap. Some are derived from well-known dictionary publishers: Oxford, Collins, Chambers and so on. Others come from unbranded sources. As the Advanced English Dictionary (AED) app shows, that doesn't necessarily mean they're inferior to their famous-name rivals.

They're certainly cheaper. AED is currently available for a mere 59p, though publisher jDictionary Mobile says this is a special "90 per cent off" promotional price. Even at £5.90 it's good value given that you can pay up to £20 for a branded alternative.

AED is also one of the best-presented dictionary apps. The screen layout is attractive, the animations smooth, input is responsive. Words with multiple definitions are presented as a set of panels from which you slide and scroll from one to the next. It doesn't feel like a port of an app from a lesser mobile OS as a fair few iPhone dictionaries do.

There's no attempt to mimic the look of a paper dictionary. Instead AED uses the hyperlinking that computer-based databases make so easy to provide not merely a definition but a structured list of related words, allowing you to explore broader categories of word or drill down to more specific instances.

Advanced English Dictionary Advanced English Dictionary

Examples abound... and quirks

Look up 'Cheshire cheese', for instance, and a link will take you up the hierarchy to 'cheese'. From there, you can go up to 'food', 'solid food' or 'dairy product', or you can try out a selection of specific types of "solid food prepared from the pressed curd of milk". Curd is linked to too, as one of the substances from which cheese is formed.

Where relevant, definitions are accompanied by lists of synonyms and antonyms, so AED can be used as a thesaurus.

The related-words list isn't simply lexicographical. 'London' sits below 'national capital' and 'England' but above 'Big Ben', Old Bailey', 'Lombard Street' and so on. As such, AED has the feel of an encyclopaedia about it.

It's a novel approach and one that makes exploring a joy. It's not for everyone, though. While there's a search facility, it's based simply on the letters you enter and the order in which they're typed. 'Lio' will find 'lion' but not 'battalion', for example. And there are no wildcards, so stumped crossword solvers won't find succour here.

While AED provides word-usage examples, there are no out-loud pronunciations. Not all the words have visual pronunciation cues, either, or etymologies. It does well on scientific and medical terminology, and includes plenty of famous people, but it's weak on obscure words. British users may be peeved at its obvious leaning toward American English.

Advanced English Dictionary

'I hope, sir, you are not using the first English dictionary to look up rude words'

Our test text was Jack Vance's Lyonesse, a fantasy novel noted for its linguistic richness, and AED came up short only occasionally: 'fane' (an ancient temple) 'jupon' (a tunic worn over armour) and 'gonfalon' (a heraldic banner) are absent, for example.

Verdict

The problem for AED is that there's a free alternative, from Dictionary.com, that has found every word we've chucked at it. It's not as good an example of iPhone coding as AED is, being slow and occasionally unresponsive to taps, but then you're getting what you paid for. Despite its website branding, it can be used offline.

For simply looking up words, AED is the loser, but for exploring the language, it has the edge, the upper hand, the whip hand, etc, etc. ®

Compatible with iPhone OS 3.0
Tested on an iPhone 3GS

Build a business case: developing custom apps

75%
Advanced English Dictionary

Advanced English Dictionary

AED cleverly fits words into a structure of meaning rather than a simple alphabetical list. One for explorers of language rather than crossword buffs.
Price: £0.59 (limited time offer - then £5.90) RRP

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.