Since launching its Dictionary.com app for iPhone and iPod Touch in early April, the folks over at Dictionary.com have been plotting other iPhone applications that use the tools they've got: grammatical, orthographic, synonymic authority. And while they're at it, maybe duplicate the numerical success of their reference app, which has floated among the iTunes Top 10 since its launch, and which hit more than a million downloads within the first three weeks.
The conduit of such lofty ambitions is Miss Spell's Class, a 99-cent app that despite its name, letter-grade scoring, and nostalgic background of college-ruled paper, Dictionary.com insists is aimed at their core demographic of high school and university students, and business professionals.
The app is straightforward. You quickly decide which of the 20 words in the round are spelled correctly or incorrectly. Points are knocked off for inaccuracy, and added to your total time. If it takes you 40 seconds to go through the list, but you get two wrong, your score spikes up to 60 seconds, a B. So save the pokiness for reviewing your score and for kicking yourself for casual errors.
The game is cute all right, and a test to the ego in the way that SATs and other standardized tests are--taunting in their simplicity, and debasing when you miss a word you ought to know. At least you're not alone--the misspellings that are your object to spot are siphoned straight from the top 5,000 botched words entered into Dictionary.com at a rate of 2 million typos and flubs per month.
Still, there are a few light raps of the ruler we'd make. In a test game, 'consiencious' was paired with 'consensus', rather than with 'conscientious'. Apart from that, we're not quite convinced the game will make us more intelligent, until Dictionary.com slips in definitions, and perhaps the pronunciation guide from the free Dictionary.com iPhone app. Miss Spell's Class is also a bit one-dimensional. Although this game title is just the beginning, we'd like to see it instilled with different skill levels and playing modes, where you might actively spell a word, not just passively review it, or quickly choose the right configuration from a handful of choices. There should be different skins to pull in the grade-school youngsters, old fogeys, and tweens who are too cool for school, and competitions over Wi-Fi.… Read more