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A dictionary above the level of a single device

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When David Stutz left Mircosoft in 2003, he wrote a parting letter to his former employers entitled “Advice to Microsoft regarding commodity software”. The letter caused quite a stir within the IT industry at that time because its content exposed the short-sightedness of Mircosoft’s steadfast refusal in embracing open source softwares and platforms. Tim O’Reilly echoed his sentiments of “software above the level of a single device” and often used this concept to help define Web 2.0. is one such example of a software that runs on multiple platforms. is an online English dictionary and thesaurus that provides users with millions of English word definitions, synonyms, spelling, audio pronunciations, examples of sentence construction, word origins and translations. Today, more than 50 million users worldwide visit this site every month, making them the world’s largest and reliable free online dictionary resources.

What i really like about is the way they extend some of Web 2.0’s best practices and techniques to mobile devices. Ever since i owned a smartphone, gone were the days of flipping through thick pages of authentic dictionaries(front to back and back to front) just to search for a single word meaning which is taxing on the eyes. The application became extremely handy in alot of situations where i did not understand the meaning of a particular word especially during lectures. It feels like squeezing a big and thick dictionary into your phone with no extra weight! has also done well with the constraints of limited input that mobile devices can handle with a simple yet interactive user interface. It was so convenient to just key in the word into the search box and the meaning with sentence construction examples will be displayed in a short and concise layout with audio pronounciation an option. This makes the output easy on the eye, all within the touch of a button. Navigating through this application is really easy.

The most interesting feature of this mobile application is in their approach to leverage mobile devices(phone speaker) for enhancing user experience and make the edge smarter. The voice-to-text search function allow users to select the voice tab to speak a word. up will process the voice sample and return a meaningful definition of the word. If that word has several possible choices, a list of related words will be displayed. also made its API avaliable to third party developers which are mostly being used for creating word games and language learning applications on mobile platforms. Commercial


6 responses »

  1. Very cool. First, I didn’t know about this letter- I find it kind of funny!! Also, I LOvE!!! I’m so interested in the literal meaning of words I’m forever looking up words we take for granted in our language with overuse. Alsooo, I’m a big Scrabble fan! I always have my iPad close by during a game!
    Great post

    • Is it considered cheating to have a dictionary beside you when Scrabbling? Hahaha… I prefer the excitement of “the clock is ticking!” so Boggle is my cup of tea although i’m always on the loosing end.

  2. I am an international student. I used to use only through website, but after I had my first iPhone. Everything seems to be easy I can find out a wide ranges of vocabulary. More importantly, this app help my English is getting better. I’ve just realized that there is a voice-to-text fuctions. I haven’t tried that one before. I may have to try it tonight. Nice post, An obvious illustration of services across devices.

  3. I’ve used this before, but didn’t know there are mobile versions of it. Sounds convenient and attractive, because I like looking at dictionaries. What the difference between on mobile and dictionary function on mobile phone? Have you thought about it?

  4. Hi Kim,

    do you mean the differences between the mobile app and a built in dictionary function on mobile phones?


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