Karelia refers to
Watson as a desktop web productivity application. From a functionality perspective,
Watson is more like a web browser than a desktop application. For example, in a typical
internet search window, you receive a list of results with links to web pages. Watson,
on the other hand, is designed with modules, and within each module, the results
of the particular search type are retrieved from the web, loaded into Watson, and
formatted in a way that makes sense for that particular module.
As the name hints, Watson is a utility similar to Apple's Sherlock, providing a search
window like in design, but with a lot more power and features. In fact, after using
Watson for awhile, it seems that the names should really be reversed. Watson is definitely
the stronger of these two Mac OS X internet search programs.
The best way to describe
Watson is to break it down by modules (aka, search types). The following is a current
list of Watson modules, along with a list of Pro's and Con's for each module.
- PROS: Easy way to search Amazon
for an item. Includes category searches.
CONS: Forces category search (i.e.,
cannot do an "All Products" search like you can on the actual web site).
Changing category erases your previous search text. Sometimes get strange results.
Search for "electric tea kettle" in Kitchen & Housewares came up with
good matches, but same search in Electronics came up speaker phones, stereos, etc.,
but no tea kettles.
- PROS: Easy way to track your auctions
(ones you are bidding on, selling, or general item searches). Good search selections.
Easy to bookmark specific auctions.
CONS: In bookmarks, clicking on
Item No or Price column header does not sort the listings as you would expect.
- PROS: Great and easy way to find
out current exchange rates. Includes US dollar, Euro, Yen, and several others from
- PROS: Easy access to the Google
search engine. Ability to save searches. Advanced search options.
CONS: Would be nice to have history
of searches for a current session.
- PROS: Simply the best image search
engine I've seen. Can specify minimum dimensions to eliminate thumb nail images.
Can increase results clicking on the arrow button.
CONS: Search results don't always
match search text. Not obvious that clicking on small arrow button increases results
(discovered by accident).
- PROS: Easy article searching.
CONS: Went to search for Pascal
under "Lang", and it came up empty.
- PROS: Movie and Theatre searching.
Faster and easier than searching on the web sites. Includes summary and preview tabs
- PROS: Easy and fast way to track
packages. Supports USPS, UPS, Fedex and Airborne. Saves results.
CONS: Clicking on "Status"
column does not sort by status.
- PROS: Great phone directory assistance,
including reverse directory (enter phone number), and area lookup.
CONS: Would be nice to be able
to sort by city and/or zip on results.
- PROS: Fast and easy listings for
product price comparisons.
CONS: Didn't seem to pickup as
much as some price search engines (i.e., search for "OWC 80 GB Drive" returned
- PROS: Browse or advance search,
picks up recipes from all over. Found some great recipes for candied pecans!
CONS: No way to store search results.
No simple way to save recipes (must copy and paste into another program).
- PROS: Easy lookup for dictionaries,
thesaurus, encyclopedia, bible, and more! Lots of choices.
CONS: If you misspelled a word,
did not provide approximations (such as a simple spell checker might do).
- PROS: List any stock symbols, and
get an easy to manage list of stocks, their prices, and details (including news and
graphs). Graphs for a day, week, or year. Includes name search.
CONS: No graphs greater than 1
- PROS: Simple translations from
English to other languages, such as Spanish, French, Japanese and more. Includes
reverse translation (other languages can be the source). Choice of Babelfish, FreeTranslation,
Intertran and Lycos services.
CONS: Eastern languages, such as
Chinese and Japanese, only show symbolic output (not useful if you want to know how
to pronounce in those languages unless you understood the symbols). Can translate
from Russian, but not to Russian.
- PROS: Online TV guide with grid
display and easily rotates through time slots. Includes a search tab to search for
particular shows. Click on a show, and details are displayed. Can also refine listings
to just your favorite channels. This was great when I needed to know the repeat showings
of The Shield.
- PROS: Simple listings of software
titles on VersionTracker.com. Includes search tab.
CONS: No categories for Mac OS
9, Mac OS X and PC. Assumption can be made that it is all OS X since Watson is OS
X, but you know what they say about making assumptions.
- PROS: Find the weather conditions
for any area. Includes detailed current conditions, 5-day forecast, doppler radar
graphics, and infrared satellite picture.
CONS: Not intuitive nor simple
to change location that is being examined (must turn settings on, then set new location).
Flaky and vague controls on the doppler radar screen.
- PROS: Easy way to use Yahoo search
engine. Includes categories and search options, with sortable search results.
CONS: I did some simple searches
that kept coming up empty (i.e., searched for Claire Forlani in Actors and Actresses,
- Zip Codes
- PROS: Enter an address to get full
zip code (Zip + 4), or enter a zip code to get city and state. Easy access.
Watson is what I would consider an OS X killer application. I'm one of many that
still boot up under OS 9 for normal work for a variety of productivity reasons, and
Watson is one of those few applications that makes me really wish I could live in
OS X (or wish that Watson would come out for OS 9, though the support web site indicates
that it never will). From monitoring my eBay auctions and mailings, to finding a
movie on the fly, to seeing what channel and what time I could catch The Shield on
TV, Watson is truly integrated into the every day lifestyle. With the advanced search
capabilities, the tailored results for each search type, and the number of different
kinds of search types, this is one of the most powerful utilities that I've ever
seen on the Macintosh. I highly recommend it to all Mac OS X users.
- Intelligent search
results tailored to each search type
- Lots of useful search
- Truly integrated
with every day lifestyles
- Some search types
yielded limited results
- Not all columns would
4 1/2 out of 5 Mice