Top 8 Reference Apps iPhone

Reference apps these days tend to come in many different shapes and sizes, but the main idea remains the same: a way to get information directly from an app, without having to look it up using the Internet or browse to find something you need. As such, this list will be something of an inconsistent gathering of different kinds of apps, from those that offer just one thing to those that are laden with different features, but each of which are a veritable source of useful information that can be accessed using your iPhone. There are translation apps and search apps included, just for the record, which might not fall in line with the more traditional idea of reference apps but are very useful all the same. We’ve basically attempted to represent most of the reference apps here, or at least the different kinds of reference app, so you can go through the list and find something useful with each entry and without coming across a bunch of translation or search apps. Of course, there are so many reference apps out there that we’re bound to have forgotten something – why not check out the Top 8 below and then suggest your own favorites in the comments section?

8. Google Translate (Free)

Google Translate is of course the premier free translation service on the web today, with an ability that is forever improving so that even the most difficult translations made these days can be done so accurately. For those who have used Google Translate on the web or your desktop computer, it’s a great way to immediately translate a foreign webpage, for example, or to grab text from a source and input it into a text box and then choose a language to translate this into. The Google Translate app has three different kinds of translation to pick from, including this general text translation. There is also audio or speech translation, which is great when you’re traveling and speaking to someone who you can’t quite understand. Simply ask them to speak into your iPhone mic instead, and receive an accurate translation in text. Then there is the visual translation, which allows you to scan things such as menus or business cards, or take photos of street signs and get that translated, too.  – Download from iTunes

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7. WordReference (Free)

Wordreference, I should point out, is a particular favorite of mine when it comes to looking up translations and definitions in other languages. It’s great as a one off tool but has the depth to become absolutely indispensible for those who work in the field of translating, though most of my experience with this free service admittedly comes through their website rather than the mobile app. Some could in fact call their app limited in its comparitive functionility, but it’s still an excellent resource and one of the best to have in your pocket when translating either at home or abroad. Part of the reason Wordreference is my go to website when translating is that it is crowd driven, meaning that even if you can’t find a specific word or translation in their dictionaries, the chances are, someone will have mentioned it at some point on their vast messageboard which is visited by thousands of users from around the world on a daily basis. – Download from iTunes

6. Bing Search (Free)

As an alternative to Google, Bing could still use some work but it has been developed a lot recently to offer an improved experience. You can now type, speak or snap a photo in order to look things up in the blink of an eye, and the app is even compatible with the Apple Watch meaning that you can do all of these things from the convenience of your wrist. – Download from iTunes

5. Whitepages (Free)

White Pages is an excellent search app that focuses in on contacts and places of business, meaning that it’s a great way to find people and places with the tap of a button. It’s also a more environmentally aware alternative to its paper-based publication, since all of the info can be accessed on your iPhone without the need to seek out a physical copy. The app can be very useful when looking for establishments nearby, and you can even reverse lookup phone numbers to find who has been calling you. – Download from iTunes

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4. IMDb (Free)

“What else was this guy in?” is a question that crops up time and time again when watching movies with friends, and the go to resource online for all your movie knowledge has always been the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb for short. This site acts as a fantastic resource for all your film knowledge, and as such their official app is an absolute must have for TV and movie fans alike. Whether you are into films that are perhaps off the beaten path and exist outside the mainstream, or you’re just looking for the latest news from the world of showbiz relating to your favorite Hollywood hearthrobs, this app is certainly worth checking out. – Download from iTunes

3. Dictionary.com (Free)

We figured that it was worth making a passing reference to a dictionary app, and this one by Dictionary.com is perhaps the best out there – followed closely by the Merriam-Webster alternative. The great thing about this app is that it allows you to search for definitions and synonyms even without a wifi or 3G connection. For those who have used the website in the past, this app provides much of the same info when it comes to the defintions, origin and the pronunciation of each word, but lays it out in a way that is perhaps more digestible. The pronunciation is particularly useful, and comes complete with audio examples – though you will need an internet connection to access these. – Download from iTunes

2. Google (Free)

Of course, perhaps the best free reference service around is Google itself, so no list of this kind would really be worth completing without at least a passing mention. One might think that a Google app is almost unneccessary, since you can set up your mobile browser – whether it be Safari or another alternative – to search via Google by default. They have done an excellent job developing this app however, so that it is worth downloading as a standalone app for your iPhone. – Download from iTunes

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1. Wikipedia Mobile (Free)

Perhaps the most impressive free resource for information that has ever existed, Wikipedia is a real institution and I’m surprised we don’t treat it with the respect and protection it deserves. Barely a day goes by when I don’t check Wikipedia for something, yet it is now a resource that I – and many others – seem to have taken for granteed, hence the repeated pleas for donations that pop up every now and then when you head over to the site. The official Wikipedia mobile app is as simple as you might expect, with a few features that users will appreciate. It’s worth downloading just to cut the time needed to find stuff, since you don’t have to open the page in your browser but can access it directly through the app. – Download from iTunes

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