Wolfram|Alpha goes Pro

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Wolfram goes premium

A string of advanced features has been added to a platform that provides data-driven alternatives to Google - but only for paid subscribers.

Wolfram|Alpha, which was touted as the future of search when it launched in 2009, has kept a low profile in recent months. Perhaps the most notable achievement was when it struck a deal to integrate Wolfram|Alpha into Bing. However, the company has now lifted the lid on what it describes in an official blog post as "the biggest single step in the development of Wolfram|Alpha since its original introduction" - Wolfram|Alpha Pro.

The Pro version costs $4.99 (£3.15) per month, although a trial version is free, and enables users to log into Wolfram|Alpha for the first time. Once signed in, they can personalise the service by setting their location, viewing search history and choosing favourites.

In-depth analysis with Wolfram|Alpha Pro

On the Pro version, it is possible to download the raw data powering Wolfram|Alpha's results in more than 60 formats, including basics like tables and graphs, as well as more advanced modelling like 3D geometry and sound data. Subscribers can also make use of image processing and image analysis tools on their results. And they can get Wolfram|Alpha to automatically analyse data and produce a report of the key findings, which might include a mix of charts, graphics, tables and written conclusions depending on the query.

Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, said: "Wolfram|Alpha has a small but highly engaged user base that values its ability to return high-quality data. So far, the service has proven particularly popular with scientists and researchers, but its close relationship with Bing means developments at Wolfram|Alpha could well be a sign of things to come in mainstream search."

Wolfram|Alpha describes itself as a 'computational knowledge engine'. Unlike traditional search engines, which produce search results based on metrics such as keywords and inbound link quality, Wolfram|Alpha tries to provide definitive answers by mining complex datasets for information.