Jan 232012

If the Rye Studio version of the story of Nian discussed in the last post was a little advanced for you, try the iOS app by 5QChannel, Nian is Coming 年来了.

Image of Nian in the 5Q Channel app

Nian eats people in the 5QChannel app

This one has a fully animated version as well as an illustrated storybook. The 5QChannel apps have a few other nice features:

  • Choice of hanzi or hanzi with pinyin.
  • For English speakers, there is a vocabulary list in the app.
  • There is also a transcript with paragraph-by-paragraph hanzi and and English translation.
  • The reading is more dramatized, with different voices for different characters.
  • There is an icon that lets you choose pages by thumbnail (rather like the new navigation feature in iBooks textbooks).
  • Export individual pages to e-mail and Facebook.
  • The text size on the page seems designed for children to read themselves, whereas the text in the Rye Studio apps seemed meant for an adult to read.


  • No traditional characters.
  • The translation isn’t too literal. For example, the English says that “Nian was bigger than a camel” where the Chinese has 它长得又高又胖 tā zhǎng de yòu gāo yòu pàng (literally, “He was both tall and fat.”).
  • The search function seems disconnected from the content of the app. It has built-in Google and Wikipedia search like iBooks, but you cannot select text in the app, so you have to type in anything you want to look up. Also, it does not seem capable of searching for text within the story.

5QChannel’s Nian is Coming 年来了 is available on the App Store (free as of this writing).

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