|Rotating "Daily Word"|
The content for the app derives from the forthcoming North Slope Iñupiaq Dictionary, compiled by Edna Maclean. (A pre-publication draft of that dictionary can be accessed at the Alaska Native Language Archive.) The app doesn't give all the richness of the definitions in that soon-to-be-published dictionary, but it does allow users to quickly find a word.
Overall, I found the interface to be very intuitive and usable. Great for quickly looking up a word. In terms of content the app remains a work-in-progress, with varying amounts of information available for different entries. For example, the entry for atuutipiaq (featured in the screen-shot on the iTunes store) includes an example sentence, an alternative spelling, and (most notably) an audio sample. However, most entries lack all these features -- especially audio. Nonetheless, the developers are to be commended for releasing the app in its current form rather than waiting for all of the content to be entered. It will be easy enough to add more information, such as audio samples, in future updates using the same basic app structure. This approach also allows some of the operational bugs to be worked out while additional content is being prepared. (Yes, as with any new app we did experience a few bugs, such as random app crashes. I assume these will be sorted out in time.)
Another cool feature of the app is the ability to share an entry using Facebook, Twitter, or email. The cool thing here is that the link provided through the share button takes the recipient to a web-based interface where they can view the entry (check out the web entry for atuutipiaq). This way recipients with whom an entry is shared can view the information even if they don't already have the app. And of course if you want to get the app a link is conveniently provided. You can also mark entries as "favorites" so that you can quickly recall frequently used items. One suggestions: add "playlists" so that users can keep track of multiple groups of words relating to different themes.
Overall, this is an impressive new app which blazes new trails for the application of technology to Alaska Native languages. Kudos to the developers at the Iñupiat History, Culture, and Language commission. Oh, and did we mention it's free? Check it out on at the iTunes store.
Stay tuned for a review of the new Gwich'in iPad app.