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Home » iPhone, Technology

Ask.com with a great app; the iPhone as a police scanner

By: 20 April 2011 No Comment

Ask.Com has been around for quite some time.

The company started out as Ask Jeeves back in 1996 and set out to compete against other search engines. The company became just Ask.com here in the United States in 2006 an now exists as primarily a question and answer site. Yes, just type in a question and the site will attempt to answer it by displaying Internet links that are on point.

Still, Ask.com has always played second fiddle to the likes of the ubiquitous Google. Still, Ask.com has attempted to remain competitive through a number of means, perhaps the most annoying of which is inflicting a browser toolbar on Firefox and Internet Explorer users who download certain programs.

Ah, but Ask.com may have just hit its stride with a free Apple iPhone app that is incredibly useful. Ask.com markets itself as a site that allows users to ask “natural questions” and get directed to an answer. That method works very well in the aforementioned app — just speak into your iPhone and the program will display your question, allow you to correct it if the thing didn’t translate correctly and then take you to the answer.

The Ask.com application is great on at least three levels. First of all, it translates speech very well. I’ve used it a few times and the thing seems to translate what I’m saying accurately 90 percent of the time (yes, it handles a thick, Southern drawl that well). Any app that can translate uncommon phrases such as “couch flambeau” was clearly built by coders who knew what they were doing when it came to translating speech into text.

Second, the answers the app comes up with are usually pretty solid. Even some off the wall questions (such as the one referenced in the above photo) yield useful results. The Ask.com crew did a good job there.

Third, allowing an iPhone user to speak into a microphone all but eliminates having to use that awful keyboard with this app. Yes, you’ll have to correct a minor word from time to time with the app, but the excellent translation of which this is capable will keep that typing to a minimum. Any app that allows an iPhone user to provide input without having to resort to that miserable, small keyboard is a great thing, indeed.

Is the app perfect? No, it’s not. The main problem with it is that it won’t display in “landscape” mode. I’ve found it easier to take advantage of the wide screen available in landscape to look at Internet sites. To each his own, I suppose, but being stuck with profile mode for viewing sites is a drag.

All in all, this free app is well worth a download and has proven a useful way to find information on the Internet. Click here to download it or just search for it from your iPhone in the App Store.

Turn your iPhone into a police scanner

If you’ve ever wanted to keep up with what police and emergency personnel are up to in your town, then 5-0Radio is worth a look. Yes, there is a paid version of the app available, but the free one will likely do just fine for most people. The paid app adds a lot more stations to the app, but the chances are good that U.S. citizens will find plenty of local channels so as to keep informed of police activity, weather alerts, etc.

If I can find plenty of police coverage in Saline County, Ark., you’d better believe people in larger cities will find plenty of channels available in just the free version. Bear in mind that the coverage is of live channels and it’s good to be able to pick up stations in say, Dallas, when you’re in Little Rock but want to monitor emergencies that are out of state.

While the emphasis is on U.S. official and amateur radio emergency channels, there is some international coverage.

What are policeman, firefighters and emergency personnel up to in your town? What nasty whether is heading your way? Click here to download 5-0 Radio and find out for yourself.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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