Mobile System’s Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus in Review

picture-21Mobile Systems‘ offers the Oxford English Dictionary in several flavours, but our review will focus on the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus, a great package of two apps that currently sells at 34.99$ in the App Store. Since all flavours of the Concise Oxford Dictionary will offer the same content, our short review will focus on the features of each that are unique.

From Mobile Systems’ Website:

Increase Your Word Power

Over 240,000 Words and Phrases
Over 365,000 alternative and opposite words to make your writing or speach more interesting
Clear layout with each new section (phrases, derivatives, usage notes, etymologies, wordbuilder) on new line
In-text lists and tables focusing on core study subjects
Pronunciations for words that might cause difficulty
Origin Section tracing the history of words
Easy A-Z format
Hundreds of lists, from alloys and artists to worms and wines

No connection to the Internet required – you can use the dictionary on your iPhone or iPod touch without connecting to the Internet and with no additional charges
Ability to change the font size in the word definitions
Original format of the OXFORD wordlist
Bookmarks – you can use the Bookmarks feature as a learning tool and create your own topics and wordlist
Filters added to help you locate the word you are searching for:
Fuzzy filter- used when you are not sure of the correct spelling of a word
Keyword- used to locate the instances of a key word within other compound words
Wild card – “?” and “*” replace a letter and group of letters in words
Fast article scrolling
Quick search of words while you type
Hyperlinks between words and articles

Mobile Systems COED has some great additions to justify the purchase of a digital dictionary. Firstly, Word of the Day, a random vocabulary generator will help your Baulderdash tournaments and Scrabble nights. The search function in Mobile Systems’ COED is robust and includes four modes: normal, fuzzy, key word and wild card. Fuzzy is useful when you are unsure of the spelling of a word; key word helps in locating a word that is part of a compound; and finally, wild card allows you to replace letters with the characters ‘?’ and ‘*’ in case you are really lost. Mobile Systems are kind enough to allow clickable words in almost every portion of the dictionary. Only a few instances are not searchable such as definition title words which in Enfour’s offerings, brings up the word in the thesaurus.

The interface is quite straight-forward and in most instances, follows the standard iPhone OS GUI. Upon booting, the COED goes straight to the search index rather than showing the splash screen – a feature that is cleverly straight to the point. Bookmarking too, is easy and requires only a quick click on the ‘+’ sign at the bottom of a search.

Idioms, A-Z and numeric Index, brief etymology, pronunciation guides and usage notes are also included making Mobile Systems’ offering quite well-rounded.

Unfortunately, there are as many failings as features. Firstly, the iPhone OS GUI is followed only as a guideline unlike Enfour’s offerings. For instance, every Apple internet application uses an open book icon to refer to book marks but when pressed in Mobile Systems’ COED, you are taken to the history menu which also includes a bookmark section. Overall, basic iPhone GUI elements are packed into the dictionary and Thesaurus, but have little function in common with their original design by Apple: the GUI design is frayed and slightlyl dysfunctional.

On long pages, scrolling peformance is choppy, and it is not intuitive to go back to the search function: Mobile Systems did not include a readily identifiable search button. Rather, the chevron from deep menus serves in the place of the more common magnifying glass.

The Thesaurus functioin is very good, to a point. The Oxford Thesaurus contains over 365 000 entries and alternatives to help you make impressions for better or for worse, but the linking system between dictionary and thesaurus is not great. If a word in the Concise Oxford Dictionary can be found in the thesaurus, you must go back to search and then press the ‘switch’ button to find the thesaurus article for that word. This is clumsy and as a combined product, put to shame by Enfour’s Dictionary/Thesaurus combination.

Concise Edition Omissions
Lastly, failings of the Concise Oxford Dictionary need to be considered. US spellings are laregely omitted in the Concise Oxford, however, even the shallow Oxford in OSX, includes where applicable, both spellings in a single definition, not annoying links between US and British variants. This feature needs to be implemented in iPhone dictionaries especially as the iPhone is at heart an internet device which has an international audience.

In the same breath, The Concise Oxford is a selection of aggregate definitions, sources and etymologies. It is a great reference tool in paper, but when making the trip to digital publishing, much more functionality could be added.

Important Features

History √
Search √
Index √
Book Mark √
Digitised Pronunciation N/A
History √
Search √
Font Selection N/A
Font Size Adjustment √
Web Content N/A
Idioms √
Etymology √
Content 240 000 Dictionary

365 000 Thesaurus

Usage Notes √
Pronunciation Guide √ (Slap)
Images N/A

Mobile Systems’ entry is strong and one of the best COED editions in the App Store, but it sorely lacks when compared to the superior Enfour American Heritage Deluxe especially at the price. It never flounders, but offers stolid performance as an electronic dictionary, however Mobile Systems’ COED brings too little innovation to the App Store to be worth 34.99$. It needs digitised voice, better linking options and an iPhone consistent or original GUI interface.

Mobile Systems’ COED and Thesaurus gets Tapped by TouchMyApps. Follow the link for our other Oxford reviews.


App Summary
Title: The Concise Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus Developer: Mobile Systems
Price: $34.99 App Size: 14.4 MB
  • COED text
  • Unique search functions
  • ‘clickable’ words from almost anywhere in any article
  • Mostly clean and consistent interface
  • Keeps words in memory
  • Quirky hybrid GUI
  • Choppy performance
  • Poor Thesaurus and dictionary integration


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