by Charles Ying

Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

iRhyme – A NLP Rhyming Dictionary for iPhone

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I have always been frustrated with writing song lyrics. Almost all my songs have been instrumental, except for one, which had terrible lyrics and took forever to write.

Before starting PixVerse, I prototyped a NLP lyric writing helper with a markov-chain language model. Sadly, it didn’t seem to offer much practical help when I actually tried to write some lyrics with it. Back on the shelf it went, until recently.

I came back to song writing, but this time on iPhone. I changed the goal to be: “A rhyming dictionary that works really well for songwriters.”

I looked at the existing rhyming dictionaries on the web and iPhone. A lot of them really don’t work well – you get all these words that don’t really fit thematically with what you’re trying to write. No soul, just obscure terms that happen to rhyme.

So it was time for a new approach: Use a lot of interesting data and simple algorithms.

iRhyme constructs its rhymes database from a simple natural language analysis of a very large song archive (corpus). Think of iRhyme as the collective knowledge of songs and songwriters condensed into a 16 MB iPhone app. Most of the effort went into packing all those rhymes in a easily retrievable format.

It was very cool to see the results of the analysis. With some tweaks, iRhyme had linked over 1.5 million relevant words and rhymes together, with some pretty canny free-associative rhymes emerging from the data. iRhyme has over 50,000 unique words, all used in real songs.

For now, you can buy iRhyme for $0.99 on iPhone. It’s a pretty good value compared to the cost of an “old world” printed 100,000 entry rhyming dictionary. iRhyme also fits better in your pocket (the entire database is stored locally).

I am also currently working on upgrading iRhyme’s database, increasing iRhyme’s depth even further, which will part of an upgrade once I can figure out how to pack all the new data into the 10MB over-the-air App Store limit.

iRhyme is available from or directly from the App Store.

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Apple iPhone Developer Program Extended

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Apple wrote to me today, letting me know that the iPhone Developer program renewal has been extended until July 11 with 60 days to renew. That hopefully should put people’s minds at ease who are worried about their programs expiring. Code onward!

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Nokia Finally Answers the iPhone

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

When Lilia Martinez-Coburn, my colleague at hi5, first told me about the upcoming Nokia N97, I was skeptical. I’ll eat my words today.

Nokia is certainly rising to the challenge and seems to be on track to be a BMW to Apple’s Mercedes-Benz in the new “internet in your pocket” generation of mobile phones. Consider these key ingredients:

  • Cinematic UX – Finally, someone has successfully xeroxed Apple’s Core Animation’s GPU + implicit animation model and who better than Nokia. The implicit animation model is key in making great UX with minimal pain and bugs. I suspect the UX polish is focused on the main “phone top” idle screen, but it’s a great showing.
  • Web BrowserIt’s WebKit and Nokia already has a decent port.
  • Industrial design – N97’s form factor is great. Nokia is no slouch when it comes to ID, and they’re very close here. N97’s a fair amount thicker, but not too shabby.
  • A twist – a physical keyboard and Flash + video support. Apple’s mobile web efforts have promise, but people sure do ask for Flash a lot.

But there are details that we won’t know until the N97 ships and are key to making sure Nokia doesn’t pull a “Prada”. Those are:

  • Performance – Touch interfaces need to have minimal to no latency. Graphics needs to be fast, and I have no doubt a GPU is sitting in that N97. Hopefully S60 5th Edition is up to speed here.
  • Software Ecosystem – Will Nokia provide an app store? Will there be refinements to S60 to let 3rd party developers finally make great apps? And can these developers make money? Nokia certainly is integrating with partners on the social networking front. But …
  • Nokia Maps? – Well, I’m certainly skeptical of Nokia’s ability to out innovate Google on mapping technology, but I wish them the best of luck. Competition is always good, and I hope Nokia finds the game changer in building their own mapping service.

I have two closing thoughts for now – 1) MacWorld is in January. I can’t wait to see that Apple tablet. 2) Finally, a new “internet communicator” with potential… though it hasn’t shipped yet.

2009 is going to be an interesting year.

Update: Additional coverage from Engadget, Robert Scoble, Gizmodo

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