help menus, and support—are not demanded by users.
When Block wrote 2 Across, she
was a graduate student in philosophy
and, although she had a background
in math, she had no formal program-
ming experience, Maland notes. “She
sat down with the documentation for
the SDK and just wrote it in something
like six weeks,” he says. 2 Across went
on to win several notable awards from
Apple, including “Best of i Tunes: Puz-
zle Games” and “Staff Favorite.”
Instant Cocoa has no formal user
support system, says Maland, but he
keeps up with email queries and par-
ticipates in a pTerm Google Group.
“A lot of the emails are, ‘How do I do
this or that,’ but somewhere in there is
a signal that tells you where you have
not done a good job. You get a pretty
good sense of what people want in the
Unlike Spring Partners and Instant
Cocoa, Nuance’s history goes back
decades. The Burlington, MA-based
company has sold its Dragon speech
products via retailers and resellers
long before app stores existed. But
now Nuance has begun offering a few
products—most notably Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search—for Apple
mobile devices. Nuance also recently
began publishing an SDK and APIs to
its core speech recognition software so
that any developer may easily incorporate Nuance speech into its products.
iPhone, eric maland
for ios. “i didn’t
an iPhone,” he says.
“i just downloaded
[apple’s] sDK and
wrote my first couple
of apps in that.”
Nuance charges nothing for its online Dragon apps and derives no revenue from them, at least not directly.
According to Aaron Masih, director of
the Nuance Mobile Developer Program,
the idea is “to prove to the marketplace
that speech technology really works
and is ready for prime time.” A second
objective is to learn how people use
speech in mobile environments and to
learn more about how people speak, especially in foreign languages. Third, it
is to increase the brand recognition for
the Nuance name and to encourage users to try the Dragon desktop products.
Masih says that as the online app
stores become more flooded with of-
ferings, a shakeout will occur, with the
products of dubious quality and utility
disappearing. The survivors will grow
in complexity and will less likely be
free, he says.
Laudon, K. and Traver, C.G.
E-Commerce 2011 (7th Ed.), Prentice hall,
Upper Saddle River, nJ, 2010.
Lee, B.G., Lee, G.H., Shim, Y.H., and Choi, A.
Let developers run the app store by
lowering the barrier-to-entry, International
Journal of Electronic Finance 4, 3, July 2010.
Mahmoud, Q.H., and Popowicz, P.
Toward a framework for the discovery
and acquisition of mobile applications,
Proceedings of the 2010 Ninth International
Conference on Mobile Business, Athens,
Greece, June 27–29, 2010.
Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS, and
App Savvy: Turning Ideas Into iPad and
iPhone Apps Customers Really Want,
O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol, CA, 2010.
Gary Anthes is a technology writer and editor based in
© 2011 aCM 0001-0782/11/09 $10.00
ACM Member News
and use large
the study of hybrid algorithms
that combine symbolic and
numeric computations, says
Zhi lihong, professor at the
academy of mathematics and
system sciences at the Chinese
academy of sciences.
One of leading researchers
in this field, Zhi recently won
a Chinese female scientists
award earlier this year. While her
research may sound esoteric to
the general public, Zhi stresses
that her work means little
if hybrid symbolic-numeric
computations are not applied to
computation is becoming more
and more important in solving
problems in various areas of
engineering, robotics, biology,
and signal theory,” Zhi says. “it
is also important in information
technology, cryptology, coding
theory, and other uses. these
require exact and/or certified
that is the point behind the
hybrid approach, to get the best of
both worlds by taking advantage
of the speedier numerical
approach with the less error-
prone symbolic methods.
this has essentially served
as Zhi’s career focus. as a
graduate student, she sought to
develop a new computer algebra
system for China, a noble but
unsuccessful effort that helped
shape Zhi’s determination to
keep “real” application value
foremost in her work.