Prelude Mobile’s Concise Oxford English Dictionary in Review


Prelude Mobile released an aesthetically pleasing and no frills Concise Oxford English Dictionary at a pivotal pricepoint of 19.99$. While cheaper than its competitors, Prelude’s version is remarkably simple to use and fast enough for those who want a dictionary and nothing more. The pertinent question for Prelude is, how far can a simple interface go against the bigger and more ambitious projects by Mobile Systems, Paragon and Enfour?

From Prelude’s Website:
Experience a stunning and highly functional digital representation of the world’s most trusted dictionary in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary by Prelude iPhone app. This immaculate presentation provides an aesthetic and highly functional digital display of Oxford’s linguistic achievement. Weighting in at 63 MB, Prelude Mobile’s full iPhone version of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary provides the content, speed and features intrinsic to developing a large vocabulary.

Dictionary Application Features:
Instantly loads definitions
Clear, concise layout and design
Maximum screen area used for definitions
Highlighted, “clickable” words for convenient lookup
Word history
Concise Oxford English Dictionary Features:
Contains over 240,000 words, phrases and precise definitions
Includes thousands of word histories, hundreds of usage notes and all word derivatives
Incorporates innumerable subsense definitions for most special contexts
Provides rare, historical and archaic terms as well as scientific and technical vocabulary
Updated with hundreds of new words including sub-prime, social networking, and carbon footprint

Prelude opted for the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. No thesaurus. No audio samples. No frills. It is quite literally the same content as the printed version of the COED with no extras. But at only five dollars cheaper than the next cheapest offering, is the dearth of options worth the comparatively cheaper pricetag? If you need to use an electronic version of the COED, I strongly suggest looking elsewhere.

Unlike Mobile Systems’ and Paragon’s versions of the COED, Prelude’s search functions are very basic but straight-forward. Included is a helpful function that will only allow character input that matches the COED database: no long, messy and time-consuming misspellings. Conversely, you cannot add spaces to a search, nor is there an index from A-Z; sadly, Prelude’s COED feels, from the very first search, cramped, trite and lacking.

Fortunately, GUI design and commands are not as hard to use or understand as for instance, Paragon’s COED. The iPhone OS style is preserved sparingly if not graphically and buttons are spaced well unlike the aformentioned version whose redundancies and cramped GUI stifle utility. Regrettably, simplicity comes at the cost of efficiency. History, pronunciation guides and search are all buried under a menu when they could easily be fitted in nicely spaced iPhone icons ala Enfour’s Oxford Dictionary and AHD4.

Simple often is best, but in the case of Prelude’s COED, it is far from it. Sadly, an essential reason that electronic dictionaries are useful as a stand alone products or a companions to printed versions is because of versatility. All other featured dictionaries have elegant search functions that allow nearly any word to be searched from any article. This is helpful not only for those difficult words, but also for words whose definitions need to checked again. Prelude do not offer this in their dictionary. You can only search specific highlighted words within articles and cannot click on title words or within etymologies.

Bookmarks are omitted and histories are flushed after the app is closed: simply put, in this instance, simple is not best.

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 N/A
Book Mark N/A
Digitised Pronunciation N/A
History √
Search √
Font Selection N/A
Font Size Adjustment N/A
Web Content N/A
Idioms √
Etymology √
Content 240 000 words
Usage Notes √
Pronunciation Guide √
Images N/A

Prelude offer a cheaper alternative to the other Concise Oxford English Dictionaries in the App Store that at first glance may look like a carbon-copy of the functionality of the printed COED. However, without index support, Prelude’s version fails the first test and from there only loses ground. The search engine, history and pronunciation information is buried in a menu and the single most advantageous feature: universal searching is replaced by key-word searches only. Lack of bookmarking and a flushing history really hurt Prelude. Sadly, I cannot recommend Prelude’s COED especially at its pricepoint.

Prelude Mobile’s COED gets Slapped by TouchMyApps. Follow the link for our other Oxford reviews.


App Summary
Title: The Concise Oxford English Dictionary by Prelude V.1.0.0 Developer: Prelude Mobile
Price: $19.99 App Size: 7.2 MB
  • COED text
  • Simple Interface
  • Easy to press buttons
  • smooth scrolling
  • GUI
  • Search Function is stilted with inability to search any word
  • No bookmarks
  • History flushes after each use
  • No advantages to using printed COED


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