This post is by Milind Alvares
from Smoking Apples
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Much has been said about the Ninjawords Dictionary app, and the case of the censored swear words. Whether or not Apple is wrong in censoring the dictionary (yes they are!) is a matter already discussed at length, so there’s no point in me poking my nose in the issue. I mean, who am I to go up against Phil Schiller himself? I’m here to talk about the application itself and whether it’s actually worthy of all the fuss.
I’ve been using the dictionary since the day it was released, and have since deleted all other dictionaries from my iPhone. It’s good. It’s really good. Ninjawords uses the Wiktionary database for definitions instead of the WordNet database that others have been using. WordNet is more vast in the sheer number of words, but quality of definitions wise in my experience Wiktionary wins the battle. They are easier to understand, and explained in natural language rather than the sort of formal approach that WordNet has. But that’s enough about Wiktionary vs WordNet.
A lot of thought has been put into designing Ninjawords. Instead of the tabs at the bottom for switching between the various features and word games that the others come with, Ninjawords features one screen for doing what it does best—quickly show you the meanings of the words that puzzle you. Even within this one screen, Ninjawords adds in subtle features that don’t take up any real estate and make perfect sense. On startup, the bottom of the reading area will show you the word of the day. At the left, is the history button which will take you through your past searches. And on the right, is a favourites view, as you can ‘star’ definitions that you might want to refer to later.
When it comes to displaying definitions, instead of showing you a single view per definition, the definitions flow as a list on your screen. There’s no back and forth between words, and you can search for a [possibly] unlimited number of definitions in a single list. This is great if you come across a word, and it’s derived from something else. Tap the underlined word and it loads up as a separate definition right above the first one. It’s like Twitterrific of the dictionary apps. My one complaint is that it starts fresh every time you launch the app. I’d have preferred it to have had some memory to make it easier to switch back and forth between Read it Later, Instapaper, a podcast, and Ninjawords.
Overall Ninjawords is fast, easy to use, and has a great interface. Considering that you probably know the meaning of the few words that were removed from the app, it shouldn’t get in the way of you having an excellent way to access a dictionary. At $1.99, it’s a no brainer. Note that I’m not saying your existing dictionary isn’t good enough and that you need to switch. I’ve only used Wordbook and the Dictionary.com app (free), which is what I’m basing this opinion on.
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Ninjawords Dictionary: Lean, Mean, Defining Machine