WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine on the web, and with their iPad application, you can perform calculations and look up information even easier. WolframAlpha is a universal application, so you pay once but receive the optimum experience on both your iPhone and iPad.
Using WolframAlpha is simple. Just type what you're interested in and WolframAlpha will provide you information about it. For mathematical expressions, the keyboard has an additional 3 rows of numbers and symbols. Tapping "more" on the keyboard will expand the keyboarding adding 4 more rows of symbols.
When solving advanced problems like integrals and derivatives, WolframAlpha not only provides the answers, but displays the steps taken to find it. The steps are very clearly written with sentences describing the procedure. This is my favorite feature of WolframAlpha because it is an excellent learning tool and because it is a feature missing from calculators.
Although the mathematical computing power of WolframAlpha is extremely impressive, I don't find it to be a good calculator replacement. For example, calculators are often used when making multiple calculations and being able to see previous results and quickly access them is something I've found invaluable. However, I view WolframAlpha as a separate tool in itself because it offers some features (like showing steps) that calculators do not.
The mathematical abilities of WolframAlpha are excellent, but it's not all the app has to offer. You can look up information on anything scientific, stocks, weather, health, linguistics, people, organizations, sports, music, and much more. There are very few things that WolframAlpha does not have information about. For example, when typing in the word "apple", WolframAlpha initially provides the stock information on Apple (AAPL), but at the top, there is a yellow bar that says "assuming "apple" is a financial entity". Tapping this gives alternative interpretations of the word "apple", including food. Using this meaning of the word, WolframAlpha provides an ample amount of nutritional information on apples.
The only disappointing thing about WolframAlpha is that you must have an internet connection to use it. So if you're somewhere without wifi or cell reception (for iPad 3G users), this application is useless. This is understandable because of the vast amount of information that WolframAlpha contains; however, it would be nice if the calculator-like functions were available offline. I would also like to see the ability to save certain pages for offline viewing.
WolframAlpha is a very powerful application despite it's inability to do anything offline. If you're a student, scientist, or someone who enjoys discovering information, I recommend adding WolframAlpha to your collection of iPad applications.
Video and screenshots after the break!
[$1.99 - iTunes link]