Annotators

Jul 222012
 
iOS reader (annotator) apps

OK, the last post probably should have been entitled “Pleco’s Reader Tool.” “Readers” (or “annotators”) are useful for students trying to read texts that are significantly above their current level of ability. Once you load in a text, you can get a definition and pinyin for each word/character simply by tapping on it. In this post, we’ll compare Pleco’s Reader with the iOS app HanZi Reader. Although both Readers do essentially the same thing, their implementations and features differ. Once again, the text in the images is an article from the Chinese edition of the New York Times. Text input Text can be entered in both Readers just by pasting it in; in fact this is the only way to add a new text to HanZi Reader, where you must create a new file, give it a title, specify whether the text is in simplified or traditional characters, and then tap … [read more]

Jul 152012
 
iOS app to OCR Chinese: Pleco

This post fulfills my promise to discuss the additional features of Pleco Chinese Dictionary following up on its victory in the iOS OCR showdown. Pleco is the grand old man of apps for learning Chinese (see the Pleco website); I first used it on a Palm Tungsten C device in 2003. It took some time to be ported to iOS and, while the appearance is unfortunately too reminiscent of its earlier incarnations, Pleco is still a very powerful tool for students of Chinese. Once the app has OCRed text from an image, tapping “Capture” will open the app’s “Reader” (available as a paid add-on) and display the text reflowed (preserving paragraph breaks, but not the arbitrary line breaks of the printed page). The reflowing is great for continuous prose, but is undesirable for things like poetry or song lyrics. I have not found a way to disable the reflowing and … [read more]

May 262012
 
iOS app: Pinyinizer

Pinyinizer is an app for adding pinyin phonetic guide text (ruby text) automatically to Chinese characters. You simply type or paste a text in hanzi into the box and click the “Pinyinize” button. An internet connection is required. The result is a nice display with large characters and smaller, red pinyin above them. You can also hear line-by-line audio. The quality of the text-to-speech was quite good. The app is powered by Google Translate. Tapping a button gives you the option to print or e-mail the Pinyinized text. I could not print from the app, however; it simply hung after tapping the Print button. I needed to completely quit the app before I could use it again. In the iOS and Mac Mail apps, the Pinyinized text looks just like it does in the Pinyinizer app, but without the audio icons. Looking at the message source code revealed (unsurprisingly) that … [read more]

Feb 262012
 
Hanlexon online study aids

Hanlexon is a website offering a number of tools for the study of Chinese. All of the tools are used with “worksheets” that you create first. A worksheet is essentially a set of characters. It can be an actual text with punctuation, or just a list of characters (e.g. 50 most frequent). Worksheets can be organized into “lessons” and “classes.” One feature of Hanlexon, namely its ability to generate PDFs for practicing writing hanzi, is called the “writing” tool and was reviewed in an earlier post in comparison with a similar web-based tool, Hanzi Grids. This post will cover the other features of Hanlexon. The “reading” tool can turn the content of your worksheet into a PDF with the option of adding pinyin as a phonetic guide above the hanzi, creating an annotated (or ruby) version. The “reading” tool can also display the content of the worksheet right in the … [read more]

Oct 182011
 
Phonetic guide in iOS app Keynote

The same phonetic guide feature available in Pages (see yesterday’s post) works in Keynote for iOS! Also, I forgot to mention in the Pages post that you can add phonetic guide text (aka ruby text) in zhuyin (bopomofo) as well as pinyin! So you can use either pinyin or zhuyin in both Pages and Keynote. You can see zhuyin in the screenshot from Keynote on an iPhone, below. A couple of notes on formatting: the guide text will take on the color of the main text. It seems as if you must set your main font text size before adding the phonetic guide; after the guide text is added, the text wouldn’t resize properly in my testing. Also in my quick test, centering seemed thrown off by the guide text and had to be adjusted by eye. It’s still disappointing that you lose the phonetic guide text if you open the … [read more]