Apple's personal digital assistant Siri can help you find gifts at Best Buy thanks to a recent feature added to Wolfram Alpha. The so-called computational knowledge engine has tapped into Best Buy's public data of over 35,000 products to help you find and compare products. For example, you could use Wolfram Alpha to compare specs and user ratings for tablets such as the Blackberry Playbook and the Asus Transformer Prime just by asking Siri.
Or maybe you're looking for a Blu-ray player that won't take up too much space in your entertainment unit? Try saying something as specific as, "narrowest Blu-ray players under $100." Wolfram Alpha's results also include a buy link that takes you directly to Best Buy; you can also download your results as a PDF.
Once Wolfram Alpha added its new functionality, it didn't take long for Siri fans to try it out on the iPhone 4S. The new functionality appears to work whether you use the web interface or Siri, according to Apple Insider. The Apple-focused blog posted a screenshot of Siri displaying Wolfram Alpha's Best Buy results. Wolfram Alpha is just one of many online resources Siri uses to provide iPhone 4S users with data such as how many teaspoons in a tablespoon or how many days until Christmas.
If you don't have an iPhone 4S, however, you can still use the Web version of Wolfram Alpha to find Best Buy product data. If you're comparing specific products such as the PlayBook and the Transformer Prime from my previous example, the best way to get results is to use each product's model numbers.
When you are comparing products, you'll get a basic spec and price comparison; however, searching for a specific device such as the Transformer Prime will give you a far more detailed report. Individual product reports include market comparison details for price, features, even product dimensions to get an idea of how one device compares to its competitors. Did you know, for example, that the Transformer Prime has a depth of 7 inches, which is just above the 6.95-inch median depth for similar touch tablets?
Although Wolfram Alpha's new functionality is interesting, it does have its limitations. When I asked Wolfram Alpha for data on "digital cameras over $500" or "narrowest Blu-ray players" (variations on two of Wolfram Alpha's sample questions) it gave me the results I wanted. But Wolfram Alpha couldn't provide me with data for "thinnest 3D televisions" or "thinnest 3D HDTVs."
Nevertheless, adding product data from Best Buy is an interesting addition to Wolfram Alpha, especially for Best Buy shoppers.