Tomorrow Wolfram Alpha will release an updated "pro" version of its search engine, just in time for us to give up our Google habit. Rather than switching to Bing, which offers a familiar Google-esque experience, Wolfram's data-driven engine works on a completely different premise. "Wolfram Alpha doesn't just return information, it analyzes and does computation on your inputs and on its own data to provide 'reports' instead of just 'answers," explains The Verge's Dieter Bohn. Instead of scouring the Internet with an algorithm, WA works off of its own curated database. And those results sometimes do one better than a quick Google.
Things Wolfram Alpha Does Better Than Google
Data analysis. Users can upload all sorts of file formats -- audiofiles, spreadsheets, etc. -- and Wolfram Alpha will analyze it, putting it into a report that corresponds to the type of data. Creator Stephen Wolram demonstrated how it worked for The New York Times' Steve Lohr:
In a recent demonstration, Dr. Wolfram, using his computer mouse, dragged in a table of the gross domestic product figures for France for 1961 to 2010, and Wolfram Alpha produced on the Web page a color-coded bar chart, which could be downloaded in different document formats. He put in a table of campaign contributions to politicians over several years, and Wolfram Alpha generated a chart and brief summary, saying that House members received less on average than senators.
Not only does WA organize that information in a visually appealing way that makes sense, but users can also play around with the information and create interactive charts and visuals. Bohn, for example, used WA to create a homicide statistics map of Africa (below) and then using the interactive feature normalized for GDP, "which is pretty cool," he explains.