Terminology Ph: A Dictionary For Your iPhone

The Mac ships with a wonderful dictionary app. You get a dictionary, thesaurus, and optimized wikipedia browser all in one beautiful app. Unfortunately, the iPhone ships with nothing of the sort. There are a number of good 3rd party options out there. Today I’ll be taking a look at Terminology PH.

Terminology PH is a sleek and simple dictionary browser for you iPhone. Besides getting the basic definition you can search Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and Google. It aims to be a single point of entry into the world of reference.

Basics

The first view you see is search. You get a search bar and a list of words that match your current query. Tapping on one of these words takes you to the definition viewer. A fancy table view with each cell a different term. You get the definition, along with related topics and synonyms. Tapping on any link will take you to its definition. You can delete the term from the current list and mark it as a favorite for later.

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Primary Interface

At the bottom of each cell are links for more exploration. Wikipedia, Google and the like. Tapping one of these takes you to a web view pop up menu with your selected site. Nothing special here; you have the option to open it in Safari.

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Wikipedia Integration

More Options

Terminology PH only has two other views.

Starred:
A table view of all your starred terms. Unfortunately it does not adopt the standard swipe to delete, making it awkward to manage. Tapping on a cell pops that term into the definition view cell stack. It doesn’t care if the term is already there, it will go right on top as a duplicate, which is a bit annoying. As I navigated through the app, I ended up with the same term three times. Every tap leads to the definition viewer!

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Recent:

A history of your search terms. Exactly the same as the starred list. It brings along the same baggage and awkwardness.

Settings

Terminology only has one setting. Its a yes or no switch. “Filter bad words.”

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Starred and Recent Terms

Applaud and Criticisms

Several parts of the interface like the definition stack can be tricky to maneuver and manage. Duplicate terms are obnoxious and easily preventable. The app has adopted the slight delay and slide method for animated transitions between all its views. This is not a good idea in execution. Its cute for the first few times, but when I’m trying to get in and out as possible and really use the app, I want it to be as fast as possible. Developers, don’t bog us down.

I don’t care for the cumulative history table view stack. When I want to read another definition, I just want to read that definition, not have a list of my seven previous ones underneath it. Keeping track of what I last read is cool, but keep that separate.

The design of the entire application is rough. The headings have distracting drop shadows underneath them. I don’t like the color scheme at all. I disagree with the choice of the body serif font. I think something simple like Times or Georgia would be a much better choice. If I remove every item from my history cell stack, I get a blank screen. Its the standard to have a message saying you have no current terms.

I really like the simplicity of Terminology. Four windows, and only one setting. Man, is that gutsy. Some people can tweak, and tweak, and tweak forever. I think taking the minimal route on this one is very admirable.

The search is fast and snappy. I really like how it merges a dictionary and thesaurus into a single interface.

I’d really like to see the third party services get tied in better. Shoving me in a web view is not very much fun, guys. It turns the app into a glorified launchpad. I envision it differently. Clicking on a service button will push a new view to the left. Its an parsed and neatly formatted native view of the search results returned from the service.

To sum up. Take out the purposely slow view transitions. Rework the font choices. The history stack needs work. Don’t make it cumulative. Replace one item with another.

Conclusion

Terminology PH is a great choice for you dictionary needs. Its a little rough around the edges right now. The interface could use some love, as well as the integration of external search services. None of the table views meet standards guidelines. This is very frustrating. But with that said, don’t let that stop you from buying it. Terminology nicely fuses the thesaurus and dictionary aspects of searching. Although its not perfect yet, you have access to several other search engines lke Wolfram Alpha. Definitely give it a shot.


Summary

Terminology is a browser for the English language. Both dictionary and thesaurus, Terminology is designed to make it easy to explore words and phrases, diving down to more and less specific terms -- accessing the web for more detail.

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