iOS 10 tidbit: “Define” has become “Look Up,” now supports Siri-powered web suggestions

By , Jun 16, 2016

iOS 10 Look Up teaser 001

As a non-native English speaker, I rely on a Define feature which helps me pull up the definition for any selected word in Safari and other apps, as determined by iOS’s built-in Dictionary.

With iOS 10, Apple has rebranded this feature as Look Up and it’s not just a marketing gimmick: On iOS 10, Look Up’s greatly expanded scope now serves up any piece of Internet content that Siri Suggestions support.

That Look Up’s interface has been reworked from top to bottom around a semi-translucent overlay which appears over your content doesn’t hurt either.

Define is now Look Up

“In addition to searching the Dictionary, Look Up now shows suggestions from iTunes, the App Store, movies showtimes, nearby locations and more,” reads the feature’s description. Since Look Up searches across basically the same Internet content sources as Spotlight, it’s reasonably safe to assume that it uses Siri Suggestions.

Good ol’ word definitions

For starters, here’s what defining words looks like on iOS 10.

iOS 10 Look Up iPhone screenshot 001

As you can clearly see for yourself, the experience of looking up word definitions has not changed much functionally, but the interface has with word definitions appearing in a 3D Touch-like sheet with the background blurred out.

RELATED: Managing iOS dictionaries and looking up words

If no definition or a piece of online content could be found for the selected word, LookUp goes on to present you with a link to run a search on the web using your default search engine, as depicted on the screenshots below.

iOS 10 Look Up iPhone screenshot 002

This is all fine and dandy, but we’ve been able to look up words on iOS for years now. How about that expanded search scope mentioned in the opening paragraph?

Searching for “Twitter”

Here it goes…

iOS 10 Look Up iPhone screenshot 003

Selecting the word “Twitter” and then choosing Look Up yields rich results from the App Store, with both Twitter and Periscope apps (Periscope is owned by Twitter) listed below the term’s dictionary definition.

Finding Dory

And now, my favorite example: Finding Dory.

Looking up “Finding Dory” puts Look Up’s potential on full display. For starters, you get rich results from multiple Internet sources, including related movies from the iTunes Store, related apps and games from the App Store, the official website, news articles covering the animated movie and more.

And if you tap on the movie poster inside of your results, Look Up will actually show you showtimes for your current geographical location.

iOS 10 Look Up iPhone screenshot 004

How cool is that?

It’s pretty much the same experience as rich web-based results in Spotlight Search and Siri Suggestions, now inside the context of any app that supports selecting text.

Your thoughts on Look Up

In a way, Apple has taken core functionality of Siri-driven suggestions that used to be relegated to Spotlight search, and implemented it in other places within iOS 10, such as this new Look Up feature.

How do you like iOS 10’s Look Up so far? Is this new iOS 10 feature something you’d use every day, occasionally or never? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • iOS freakin’ ten and still no standalone Dictionary app.

    • Wait, you want another stock app?

      • Yes, another removable stock app. You don’t want it? Fine, don’t download it.

      • jamster440

        Just download on from the App Store then

      • Apple’s Dictionary app is not on the App Store.

      • Jayy

        I know what you mean. I could go and download one of the many Dictionary applications, but it would have been great if you were able to pull down spotlight type in a word and get the full definition the same way you have to type a word, hold and press “define” for that option to even pop up!

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Yes, Apple should implement ‘Define’ in iOS Spotlight just like on the Mac there is the ‘Definition’ in Spotlight Search

    • igorsky

      There are dozens of fantastic dictionary apps in the App Store. Go download one and stop whining.

      • There’s no dictionary better than Apple’s Dictionary. Have you used it on Mac?

  • Damien Devlin

    Very similar to “now on tap”

  • jamster440

    I still think thy should make it so a force touch on a work brings up the look up feature. This is what it’s like on mac and it just feels natural. I really don’t like the selecting of words as is on iPhone at the moment.

  • askep3

    Another tidbit is that if you swipe down Notification Center about an inch it instantly goes to spotlight, this only works when you are in an app, not the homescreen because you can just swipe down anywhere to get to spotlight.

  • GadgetQueenn

    But does it have a thesaurus? I’ve been wanting that alongside the dictionary for years.

  • Saxton

    Ok many Apple fanboys don’t get what many people are saying. The DEFINE feature was handy in a way that it allowed the user to accesss Apple iOS built in dictionary from any app. Say you are reading a book and want to get the meaning of a word, now you have to exit iBooks to search the dictionary app on your iOS device.
    Other drawback is that LOOKUP in iOS 10 does not define words if there is no internet connection.

    • Curtis-Jacob

      GAHH EXACTLY!! So annoying!!!

    • D.

      As far as I can tell Lookup works the same as Define did in iBooks,
      and just adds some extra results after the definition. For me Lookup
      also works fine without an internet connection – the definition from the
      device dictionary is shown, but none of the other stuff results are.

    • HRogers2000

      I disconnected from WiFi, tried Lookup, got the Definition. Then reconnected to WiFi, now Lookup shows Define and other lookups.

  • Perra

    I only used the Define-function to look up difficult Japanese Words which still is in the magnificent but hidden Dictionary.

    I don’t want to use up bandwith searching the whole internet!!!

    PLEASE! atleast add Customization of the Look Up function PLEASE!

  • disqus_kJOGzhZ1rG

    I hate it. I just want a definition not an internet search. Bring back define.