iKanji touch App Store Feedback Q & A

People often leave complaints, requests or questions in App Store reviews where I can’t reply to them. This is a major source of frustration to me and many other developers. I’ve decided that for now I’ll use this blog to respond to some of the things people have written which will hopefully be helpful to me and you. I may edit the ‘reviews’ a bit for brevity sometimes.

ross_drew writes: “This is a very nice app with useful features. I’d like to see the trace working better, if you dont hit the target points dead on it counts as a fail. As well as this I’d like to see some romanji as well so that I know how to pronounce what I’m seeing.”

The writing test is a little sensitive at the moment, you do have to make sure you finish the strokes close to or inside the circles on the screen. Because kanji can be quite complicated and have many strokes starting or finishing close to each other the hot spots are necessarily quite small. Perhaps I can make the hotspot zones light-up while you’re dragging your finger to make it easier or make a sound through the speaker when you’ve gone far enough.

I have no plans to ever include Romaji in iKanji touch. You really should learn hiragana and katakana before embarking on learning kanji readings, it’s the only sensible way to go about things. You won’t be able to read Japanese without knowing them. Once you can read kana and associate the correct sounds with each syllable you won’t have to worry about pronouncing individual readings or compounds. Checkout iKana touch for the iPhone or iKana for your Mac.

Xanduur writes: “I would have liked this software (I did buy it) if it allowed more control by the user. What do I mean?
1. The stroke order testing shows the shape of the character. It would be nice to have the option to draw the kanji purely from memory. No option for the end user.
2. This is the big one. Stated that it tests using an SRS (spaced repetition software) mode. The problem is that there is no way to access this from the begining. Instead you MUST go throught the “training” to learn the kanji first. I would much rather be able to choose my kanji and be tested using SRS methods from the begining. This severely LIMITS the usefulness of the software. I truly feel I have wasted my money on this software. Again, no option for the end user.”

I’m sorry you feel like you’ve wasted your money but at the same time please understand I can’t add in an option for every imaginable thing or the application would be an endless sea of check boxes. Proper kanji handwriting recognition is seriously difficult to do. I’ve yet to see an implementation that works flawlessly. Detecting whether you’ve got every stroke right would be a major task too. iKanji uses a simple algorithm which tracks whether you’re writing the strokes in the correct order and direction by hitting certain hotspots on the screen marked by circles, it’s not perfect but it should get you into the hang of writing them correctly. Hiding the kanji completely would make this test more like a join-the-dots puzzle which is different to writing a kanji from memory.

As for the SRS – you only have to review kanji once in the SRS (Teach Me test) when they are in group 1 of the Leitner system. Once you’ve demonstrated you can correctly answer the kanji you’ll never be shown the review again unless you get the kanji wrong at a future date. Since I don’t know your proficiency in each kanji everything has to start in group 1, there is no practical way around this. You’re not going to want to have to go through each kanji manually selecting whether you think you know it or not.

Digityou writes “A great app for those trying to learn kanji. A great addition would be stroke practice. But still 5stars easily!!”

Thanks for the 5 star review – there is a stroke practice test!

stevesayskanpai writes “If I had one suggestion for the next version, it would be the ability to turn off one of the testing areas in terms of getting a kanji “right” in the SRS- for example, if you are just learning the meaning, readings and/or writing, you could turn off the others and just be tested on this.
” (edited down to request part)

You’ll be pleased to hear this is a planned feature for the 1.1 update which will be out in a couple of weeks hopefully (argh I pre-announced an update again!)