Date: March 5, 2011
App type: Books & Reference
Publisher: Skava
Release date: December 31, 2010
Price: $0.99
Phone features used: Data connection, media library

On a recent trip to Spain, I arranged for AT&T Wireless to add an international data package to my Windows Phone so I could remain caught up on email while we were out seeing the sights. But I also figured I could use the phone to look up unfamiliar Spanish menu items and other words on the go, and while web-based help would be been somewhat helpful, I was really looking for a dedicated app. And fortunately, the first of what I assume will be several foreign language apps from Skava, focusing on Spanish, is already available for Windows Phone.

(Skava makes other, similar language apps on the iPhone, including those for French, German, Italian, and Japanese. Hopefully, these other titles will make their way to Windows Phone as well.)

Branded to accompany the "Dummies" series of books from Wiley, the look and feel of Basic Spanish for Dummies is somewhat terrible in my opinion, and does almost nothing to take advantage of unique Windows Phone user interface conventions. But don't let that throw you off too much--though I do deduct points for platform genericity--because there's a lot going on in this app. Features include:

Words/Phrases.  A collection of common Spanish words, phrases, and other expressions, categorized and searchable via the top-mounted Search button. It works in both directions, too: English to Spanish and Spanish to English.

Dictionary. An alphabetical listing of words, also in both English to Spanish and Spanish to English forms.

Flashcards. Categorized similarly to Words/Phrases, Flashcards lets you test your knowledge of Spanish one question at a time.

Basics. A nice primer to Spanish language and grammar, with audio.

Videos. A very small collection of very poor quality video tutorials on Spanish introductions, alphabet, consonants, and vowels.

Part of Tens. Like every Dummies book, this app includes a "part of tens" that, in this case, consists of three sets of lists, ten expressions, ten holidays, and ten useful phrases.

My Favorites. An interface for saving and accessing favorite or needed words and phrases you discover while using the app, sort of an in-app version of IE favorites.

Share. An interface for constructing or finding a Spanish phrase and then emailing it to others from the app.

Overall, Basic Spanish for Dummies does deliver on its premise--i.e. "basic" Spanish--and it performed well for us in Spain. A fuller Spanish dictionary would be appreciated, in fact I'm curious why such a thing isn't yet available. But a handy app to have nonetheless. I'd especially like to see a French version on Windows Phone as well.