It has been recently discovered that Wolfram Alpha has the ability to tell you what airplanes are cruising around above you based on your position and knowledge of where various airline and charter flights are located at any point in time. As Siri has an ability to work with Wolfram Alpha, I thought I’d see if I could just ask Siri to tell me about those flights overhead.
It only took a few tries and some guesses about what to ask Siri,
but finally it started working as according. Telling Siri to “Ask Wolfram what flights are overhead” gives the very perfect results. That query displays a Wolfram Alpha printout showing the flight or aircraft registration number of flights that are currently visible from where you’re standing, their altitude, and the angle above the horizon. Also you get information that what type of aircraft each is and how far it is, also what direction is to look, as well as a sky map showing where the planes are.
Then an attempt was made to entice details out of Siri about individual flights. I thought I’d need to use the brains of Wolfram Alpha again, but found that by simply saying “Tell me about [name of airline] Flight [flight number]” prompted Siri to display a web page showing the departure airport and time of the flight along with the expected arrival airport, time and gate.
The search isn’t perfect. I often had flights between the West coast and Asia showing up on the search despite the fact that there was no way that the flights were going to be flying over Colorado. But as with many of the tricks we’ve demonstrated here at TUAW, this shows the surprising depth of knowledge that you have access to by asking Siri.
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