I am very particular about my reference materials. Perhaps it was hammered into me in university when every course’s materials list was replete with nothing less than the Oxford Dictionary of English. Thus, when our Dictionary review section was finally launched, I was shocked at the proliferation of non-Oxford references in the App Store of which WordBook is one. At first, I took little notice of it as I was more anxious to complete reviews of THE Dictionary.
Looking back, my decision was not unfounded. WordBook, though not mated to Oxford’s content, is perhaps the most impressive cost-effective reference at the App Store. My tongue-wagging review won’t do greater justice than simply saying: ‘Kiss It’. Had I completed this review first, it would be much harder to recommend even the Enfour masterpieces.
Perhaps the most easily-recognisable advantage WordBook has (other than being 99 cents), is its flawless interface. Everything from icons to layout to the art of adding bookmarks and notes is perfect — from randomly browsing words to editing your notes, WordBook is a (insert your favourite artist’s greatest piece). The glossy background, icon-spacing, reach length to links, thesaurus and web – it is all easy to navigate. There isn’t another dictionary app that combines all of these elements so perfectly. Even Enfour’s AHD4 and Oxford Deluxe which feature wonderful interfaces, have steeper learning curves.
For instance, the bookmark function (which I ridiculed in Mobile System’s Concise Oxford) is linked clearly to both history and bookmarking and not hidden in a menu. A simple tap will open options for editing, sorting, emailing and deleting. The simplicity of a shallow menu with a powerful set of tweaks is scrumptious.
Bookmarking itself is just as easy. Find a word in either the dictionary or thesaurus, tap the arrow icon in the bottom right and you are presented with the below screen.
As you can see, you can bookmark the item, add a note or send the entry to email, straight from the definition. When you have added a note or bookmark, a star (bookmark) or yellow note (note) which replaces the arrow, will appear in the entry.
A real jewel in WordBook’s crown (yes, this dictionary is king) is its search function. Instead of a long and fumble-friendly A-Z list of words, WordBook incorporates 3 such column-lists. So, if you want to choose a word that begins with an ‘m’, you can do that. But similarly, you can do that for the next two letters – a feature which makes sorting through 220 000 definitions a breeze.
If you are still clueless but think you might know a couple of letters in the word, go ahead and use wordfinder. You can enter words in both cross-word and anagram-styles (in case your mind goes backwards). Both work wonderfully for study and for a bit of fun with newspaper-puzzlers.
WordBook also features a pronunciation guide and digitised voices. You can choose from among the following notation systems: IPA (International Phonetic Association), AHD (American Heritage Dictionary) and M-W (Merriam Webster). No other dictionary I have come across allows such versatility. Presumably, this is because WordBook is not pushing any agendas, whereas American Heritage and the Oxford are sort of vying for best-in-the-world status with Webster’s tagging along for fun.
All word-length entries have small usage examples and sometimes, origins — all of which is linked and cross linked until your eyes get tired. Just like Enfour’s products, you are able to click on just about any word in every entry.
WordBook not only features 220 000 definitions, but up to 5 web resources to add to its word-arsenal. This setting is accessed in the settings menu from your iDevice’s main screen. There, you can also choose font, text size and can toggle several options such as Background synth, Profanity filter, Alphabet Selectors and whether or not start in search. I would prefer that this option be directly accessible from the app’s menu, but then, WordBook has so much going on internally that its creators probably had to offload a few functions to the iDevice.
Words of the day, which are accessible via the Featured section will help you keep up with vocabulary building and are another great function included in this package.
Sound sometimes takes time to load and if you select high-quality voices, you must be connected to internet which means that iPod Touch users have got to stay home or in class. There is very little to really complain about. However, to nitpick, I would suggest that though a search for ‘colour’ and ‘color’ will reveal nearly the same definition, there are some gaps — these incongruences suggest that the words mean different things when they don’t.
WordBook is the dictionary you have been looking for if you have been looking for an inexpensive option that hosts great content, excellent features and a nearly perfect interface. If you want more expensive, poor interface and a rascally misuse of digital formats, look to Paragon or Prelude’s Concise Oxford which desperately need re-tooling. Though not THE dictionary, WordBook is THE budget dictionary which surpasses in overall ergonomics and features even Enfour’s offerings. Are there other dictionaries that can match its style and ease of use? Yes. What about content and versatility as a dictionary? Yes, but in both cases, the dictionaries cost 60$. In other words, if you don’t need the Oxford and you want to have your cake and eat it too, buy WordBook for 99 cents.
WordBook is emphatically embraced, smothered and kissed by TouchMyApps.
|Title:||WordBook English Dictionary & Thesaurus (V 3.5)||Developer:||Transcreative Software|
|Price:||$0.99||App Size:||19.6 MB|