Android Version

Many people have inquired on the chances of a version of KanjiBox for Android. Indeed, not everybody out there wants to rely on the whims of Apple for their content and Android devices have come a long way: I completely hear you.

Unfortunately, the short answer is that KanjiBox for Android won’t be happening anytime soon. As in: not happening in the next 3-to-6 months, which is generally about as far as I can see in my life (feel free to keep your hopes up for after that, but the chances of my forfeiting all ties to the material world and joining a Zen monastery are at least on par).

As for a more detailed answer and overview of the reasons behind this regrettable decision, feel free to read on if you have some time to kill:

1. Time: KanjiBox (all versions thereof) is a pet project. Or more exactly: was a pet project (among many others), until it got seriously out of hand and started eating at most of my free time. As it turns out, being a PhD student (in a field with no connection whatsoever to Japanese studies) already takes a fair share of my time. And yes, while I could certainly squeeze the necessary development time by eradicating leisure altogether from my life, I do cherish too much those rare moments spent in intimacy with my favourite bottle of gin.

An Android version would not so much be a “port” as a complete rewrite. iPhone development currently requires the use of Apple’s framework, API and language (Objective C), while none of these things are encouraged, or even supported, on Android (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Writing the iPhone version was already a complete rewrite from the online version, and it took countless hours over many months. Chances are the Android version would not be any better.

2. Pragmatism: Making any sort of money selling Android apps is notoriously difficult. What makes Android a glorious product for end-users (an open platform where people can install their own software without the need for Steve’s approval) is also what makes it much easier for widespread piracy to undercut any potential profit. Of course, there are lots of “free” commercial apps and websites that do fine, but their alternate plans for revenue (dumbass Bay Area VC money and/or endless user spamming) just aren’t my cuppa.

KanjiBox is not exactly a get-rich-quick plan: once the cost of running the online version is offset, I am left with enough to pay for a couple beers each week with the odd diamond-encrusted watch or pound of refined Colombian marching powder… Brought back to an hourly rate, I am making considerably less than the kid heating up my bento at the local 7-11. Granted his job is marginally less fun, but the point being: if I wanted to make money developing software, I would probably not do it developing a Kanji-studying app for smartphones.

That is, when I say an Android version of KanjiBox would likely not be financially profitable, I mean even less profitable. To the point where my time would be better used training hamsters in the art of kanji writing (a notoriously difficult task, owing to their tiny paws and lack of opposable thumb).

3. Technicalities: last but certainly not least hurdle on the road toward Android development is that I do not own anything even remotely resembling an Android device. Please do not start giving tips on best models and phone plans: even assuming it was practical for me to drop my ongoing 2-year Softbank plan and purchase a brand new subscription somewhere else (it definitely isn’t), I am really not big on endless early-adoption gadget purchases. If it was up to me, I would still be developing KB on my old iPod Touch and using my trusty 2-year old keitai for the rest. If you compound point 2 above, I think it is clear that I am not about to invest the ¥60k+ in the hardware required to develop for Android.

To conclude, I am truly sorry about the state of things, and had the timeframe been different, I would have much rather developed KanjiBox for a platform that tends to respect its users and promote some degree of openness, but things are what they are: no KanjiBox for Android in the near future, sorry…

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