Wolfram Alpha may or may not be one of my favourite things in tech right now. It'll spew movie times, compare NFL stats, help you cheat in Words With Friends and tell you exactly what aeroplane you're staring at in the sky. And now with tomorrow's arrival of Wolfram Alpha Pro, the company, in its founder's words, begins "step 2".
According to the New York Times, the premium version of the computational engine — which draws from a pool of databases instead of spidering the web — will cost $US5 a month ($US3 for students), and offer more robust analytical services, such as the ability to make sense of complex data sets.
The new version handles data and images. In a recent demonstration, Dr Wolfram, using his computer mouse, dragged in a table of the gross domestic product figures for France for 1961 to 2010, and Wolfram Alpha produced on the Web page a colour-coded bar chart, which could be downloaded in different document formats. He put in a table of campaign contributions to politicians over several years, and Wolfram Alpha generated a chart and brief summary, saying that House members received less on average than senators.
Dr Wolfram dragged in a 3D image and after a few seconds it rendered the image — a guitar — and reported the number of polygons (2253), among other characteristics.
As an interesting aside, nearly a quarter of the engine's queries come from Siri, Apple's half-baked voice assistant. One has to wonder if the two companies will be working closer in the future. [NY Times]