White Park Bay’s Oxford Reference Series in Review – The devil is in the details
White Park Bay recently released a handful of new Oxford Reference Dictionaries to add to its already strong suite. The new dictionaries feature a few upgrades to the Oxford Reference series I reviewed before. These include: better mail integration and indexing as well as a structured note-taking system. For 14.99$, they remain a little pricey, but are great titles for the would-be know-it-all.
All of White Park Bay’s apps are updated to support the new features which make this suite a much more worthwhile buy. The contents speaks for itself; Oxford’s dictionary series is one of the most pithy and wide-reaching reference series on a number of subjects. And that series is translated for 1:1 use on the iDevice – a great idea indeed.
In my previous article, I decried White Park Bay’s lack of note-taking and streamlined email support. Thankfully, both have been fixed. Note taking is accomplished by tapping a pad icon in the lower right hand portion of the screen and can be filled up with new information, comparisons – anything your heart fancies.
White Park Bay have made that easy. Thankfully, emailing is also much better. After sending an entry to email, the app is resumed from the same entry. Both of these tweaks are very helpful, especially as electronic dictionaries should benefit from their platform.
Unfortunately, White Park Bay still have left out one very important piece: resume function. When you exit a dictionary, current progress isn’t saved. After resuming, you are brought to the directory listing, not the last entry. And, after emailing an entry to someone, rather than resuming from the last read spot, the app defaults to the entry title. The series has been updated to let through fewer user-forceable errors, but it isn’t yet free of them. Landscape mode for the most part, is usable, but when sending an article via email then switching to landscape mode, the following rendering error pops up. And when entering landscape from portrait, the current article disappears from the right-hand column. There have been a number of tweaks which help this series stand out, but there is a long way to go.
The suite is great. There is no denying that Oxford Dictionary series is one of the best sources for fingertip browsing. And with so many items for perusal at the App Store, White Park Bay have a trump card for encyclopedia/dictionary buffs. But they are missing the mark in one spectacular way: these references are electronic and should be designed from the ground up to deliver content with all of the benefits of the format. Notes and better email support help the suite to reach maturity, but the absence of resume is a quizzical omission at best. While the suite is getting better, it isn’t yet at the level it should be for its price.
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