Merriam-Webster Dictionary HD is the brand new iPad version of the popular dictionary. It is designed specifically for the iPad, offers all the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, and voice search to look up a word even if you can’t spell it out.
I’ve been taking a look at the app this morning and I’m very impressed. This is one heck of a good looking iPad version.
This is a free, ad-supported app – with ads shown in a bottom strip on the main right-side pane within the app.
The layout of the app is very basic and easy to use. The left hand pane of the screen is an A-Z scrollable index of words – where you just tap on a letter to begin scrolling through all the words that start with that letter. The right hand pane shows the selected word and its definition and associated details.
In the top navigation bar you can tap to show Recent words looked at in a list, tap Back and Forward buttons to move through recent words one at a time, use the Search bar to type in a word you want to see, or invoke the voice search.
There is a “Reader View’ mentioned in the App Store features list for the app, which is said to let you hide the navigation bar and see the word text in full screen. I have not spotted how you get to this view as yet though.
— The voice search is powered by Dragon and it is superb. It got more than 90% of my searches right in some heavy testing this morning that I did with music playing in the background and with some words that I thought would be difficult to recognize (it got all of them first time). It also analyzes and returns results quite quickly. Just a great feature. It even found silly British slang words …
— The audio support continues within the entries for nearly all words. You can tap to hear each word pronounced. It even offers multiple audio clips for words that have more than one accepted pronunciation. There are different male and female voices used within the app for pronouncing the words.
— The entries are well-presented and complete – for each word they show the definition/s, how to pronounce it correctly (with accompanying audio clips, as mentioned above), usage examples, origins, synonyms and antonyms.
— Synonyms and antonyms are all hyperlinks, as are some of the key terms used within definitions – so it’s easy to jump straight to them with a quick tap.
— The A-Z scroll panel on the left hand side is very fast and responsive.
— The Search bar starts showing suggestions as soon as you start typing.
— The Recents section has an Edit button, so you can delete recent words you don’t want to show there.
— You can select and copy text in the word definitions screens.
— The Word of the Day item is a nice little feature.
— I’m not sure if the full-screen Reader View is not working in the app or is just very hard to find. Either way, it needs improvement.
— I’d like to see an ads-free version of this app, and would happily pay for it.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary HD is a very nicely done iPad version and an excellent reference tool to have on the iPad.
It’s easy to use, presents a strong set of information for each word well, and the voice search and audio support are fantastic.
If you’ve got kids in school at any level, this may be a must-have tool for them. If you have need of a dictionary for your work, this should also be a great option.
Here’s an App Store link for Merriam-Webster Dictionary HD; it’s a free app.