iOS

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]

Jun 242012
 
iOS app: Skritter

The Chinese-learning community is all aflutter over Skritter. This is the highly anticipated iOS version of the popular web-based tool for learning Chinese, particularly writing hanzi with correct stroke order. Although I haven’t yet talked about the web version here, I jumped on the chance to review the app (thanks to Nick at Skritter for making it available in beta and to Marjolein @CleverClogs for putting us in touch). The app itself is free, but to take full advantage of it, you need to subscribe to the Skritter service. You get a week’s free trial when you create an account, so that should give you a reasonable chance to see if you want to pay for a subscription. The following review assumes a subscriber account. More than just a writing trainer, Skritter for iOS can be set to test you on any combination of the following skills: writing hanzi, knowing … [read more]

Jun 102012
 
iOS app: StickyStudy: Chinese

StickyStudy: Chinese (HSK/TOP/TOCFL Hanzi Study Flashcards) is an iOS flashcard app that uses a Leitner system with five steps to card mastery. One card side is presented and you indicate whether you got the word correct or not. If you do, the card moves to the next step/Leitner box, and so on until the card is considered mastered. For each card you can also move it immediately to the “mastered” box. Studying When studying you can choose to see any combination of hanzi, pinyin, and English on the “question/front” and “answer/back”. So you can configure it to show just hanzi on the front (to test recognition) or to show pinyin and/or English on the front (to test your ability to recall words and write characters). You can also choose to have audio play automatically or when you tap a button  (seems to work only when you have hanzi visible on the card) . … [read more]

May 262012
 
iOS game: trainchinese Chinese Writer gets new feature

Chinese Writer by trainchinese is an app that makes learning to write hanzi with proper stroke order into a game. I first reviewed it in April 2011 and it keeps getting better (see here and here). To recap how the game works, characters drop from the top of the screen with gradually increasing swiftness; you tap each one and then try to write it properly as quickly as possible. You get bonuses for writing quickly; wrong strokes are penalized. Failure to complete the character in time costs you a “life.” Lose five lives and the game is over. In earlier versions, you traced over the character, which tested your knowledge of stroke order, but not your recall of the character. You could do very well without actually knowing the words, so long as you knew the rules of stroke order and had fast fingers. This update adds the option to … [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]