Archive for the ‘Release’ Category

KanjiBox Roadmap 2014

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Less iOS, more Android, Online facelift, say hello to BrainBox…

Beginning of a new year seems as good an occasion to discuss where the different flavours of KanjiBox might be headed in the future:

KanjiBox for iOS

… is officially going on the back burner for the time being.

KB for iOS has reached a point where it probably packs more features than any other Japanese app out there will ever do. It is also pretty stable1 and currently runs smoothly on all supported platforms.

And yet, each new update resets the Review/Ratings count in the App Store, which gives the app a clear disadvantage against other apps that have not bothered releasing an update in years.

Based on the number of new downloads (small) and the number of new reviews/ratings in the App Store (tiny), it does not make sense to spend most of my free time and energy releasing even more updates, when there are other new projects badly in need of attention (see below).

I have therefore decided to scale back my iOS dev effort and refrain from updating the app too often (I will basically try to tie the rate of new releases to the number of new reviews/ratings).

Note: this also means that, if you are a iOS user who want to see more updates, more often, you should vote with your mouse and make sure you post/update your review (or at least a star rating) in the App Store for each new version.

New interface for KanjiBox As far as future features (whenever they may come), the current roadmap includes:

  • A spiffy new UI (with shortcuts to custom sets from the main screen).
  • More Grammar modules (see below).
  • Better progress and revision stats: showing your progress over time, giving you advice on when to update your levels and possibly sending you reminders that you are due for some practice.
  • Verb conjugations
  • Audio?
  • etc.

KanjiBox for Android

During the last few months of 2013, I explored a number of options to get KanjiBox out to Android: public API, open-source project, contracting a dev on my own dime… It all came down to the fact that paying (or dedicating the time as a skilled developer) for even a basic version of KB on Android is just not financially realistic: a close friend quoted me an amount (for a barebone version) that is about twice what KB for iOS makes in yearly App Store sales.

So instead I decided I would probably just give it a try myself. I have started very early prototyping and currently fighting my way through the horribly clunky mess that are Android developing tools2. I still don’t even have an Android device of my own to do the testing, but hope is permitted for a basic Android version of KB, sometimes in the Spring of 2014.

KanjiBox Online

With the time freed from obsessive iOS updates, I am also hoping to give KB Online a much needed revamp. Dunno yet if this will extend to the (ageing) interface, but at the very least, some new drills and options should appear soon:

  • Missing Kanji Drill
  • Cumulative levels
  • KanaDraw/KanjiDraw?
  • Full grammar modules?

Grammar Modules

I was waiting to see how the first few grammar modules did on KB before commissioning new ones3. As usual, the loud negative feedbacks managed to overshadow many positive ones: after all these years, I still have a hard time ignoring the ungrateful comments that bash KB because it doesn’t do everything for everyone for free… How dare I charge an extra $1 on top of a fully-featured app for some new optional feature?

Anyway, a few more modules should follow, including complete vocabulary sets for N5 and N4, and more advanced grammar points for N2/N1.


… aka KanjiBox for Chinese, Thai, Uzbek, whatever-you-want-to-memorise-efficiently…

Considering KanjiBox actually predates software like Anki, it is strange that it never made the jump to being a more general SRS software. Actually not so strange if you consider that KanjiBox is Dave’s one-man work of love, and that Dave also has a very fulfilling day job that has nothing to do with SRS or learning Japanese4. Also, because KanjiBox uses many tricks and features optimised for Japanese-learning that would not necessarily make sense in the broader context of SRS decks of cards.

But after many years of thinking about the ultimate KanjiBox-like SRS app, and how it could be so much better than what currently exists, I have finally started taking steps toward implementation.

I doubt there will be a useable prototype of BrainBox for at least another couple months. But if you are currently learning something that you think could benefit from the SRS approach, and are interested in becoming a very early beta-tester, please do contact me.

That’s all, folks

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on that program and make suggestions…

Thanks for your support and あけおめ everybody!

  1. although I do still find and fix small bugs here and there []
  2. the ridiculously high hourly rate for Android dev now make more sense than ever []
  3. these take much time and money, since they are manually compiled by Japanese teachers []
  4. Note: Dave does not usually speak of himself in the third person. He has no idea why he’s doing it right now. []

Support for older devices running iOS 4.2.1 + Planned Obsolescence Rant

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The last version of KanjiBox (2.1.3 currently in the store) finally cut support for iOS 3 and even jumped to requiring iOS 4.3. This was based on my (mistaken) assumption that all devices (except for 1G devices: stuck on 3.x) could at least run 4.3.

As it turns out, 2G devices (iPhone and iPod Touch 2nd generation) can only go as high as iOS 4.2.1.

Since it was reasonably little work to add back support for iOS 4.2, I just made the necessary changes, and a new update (KanjiBox 2.1.4) should soon be in the store, that supports all devices 2G and up.

Now if you are curious as to the reasons why KanjiBox is routinely forced to drop support for older devices (and why I love you but Apple loves your wallet more), feel free to read the rantish explanation below:


Compatibility with iOS 5 (and a few goodies)

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Version 2.1 of KanjiBox has just been approved and released to the App Store today (if you are already a user, you should get an update notice within a couple hours).

Most importantly, this version fixes a couple important compatibility issues with iOS 5 (I noticed these during the beta-testing of iOS 5 and submitted the fix early last week, unfortunately it was too late to be reviewed before iOS 5 came out). Both the crash when trying to change Level settings and the strange layout issue in the end-of-quiz High Score dialog box, have been fixed. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you encounter any other issue with this new version.

In addition to this bug-fixing, v. 2.1 brings a couple new features and improvements (see the Help section, and particularly the “What’s new” section, for more info). Most notably:

  1. A much larger Vocab database! From about 17k entries, to over 35k (with a few thousand obsolete/rare entries removed from the previous set). This should be particularly useful for those who want to make their own Learning Set.
  2. Tentative support for new languages in the kanji/vocab translations (other than English). Some levels (N5 and sometimes N4-N3) have been translated by a team of volunteers in about half a dozen languages (French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Polish…). More (levels and languages) are coming in future versions. Feel free to check the online FAQ if you want to help (great way to learn while helping others!).
  3. Many cosmetic improvements, such as the ability to change the display font…

New Features in KanjiBox 2.0

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

KanjiBox 2.0 for iPhone has finally been approved by Apple and is hitting the App Store today.

First and foremost, this new version should bring more stability, with a few major (and many minor) annoying bugs fixed!

Feature-wise, here are some of the main additions to KanjiBox 2.0:

  • Sync: KB can now sync to your online KB account (creating one if necessary), allowing you to share stats and learning data between as many devices (and the online version) as you please. Also giving allowing you to recover your data in case your application gets mistakenly removed from the device.
  • MultiPlayer: is finally up and usable (previous release mistakenly included it, long before it was ready). Working notification system makes it easier to be informed when other users are joining.
  • Learning Sets for Kanji: Learning Sets can now be either Vocab or Kanji. Kanji learning sets can be used with Kanji Def and Missing Kanji drills, as well as KanjiDraw.
  • Customisable Menu: main menu can be re-ordered (and items moved from/to the main menu) using the Edit Menu button. That way you can keep all the items important to you, easily accessible from the front menu.
  • VoiceOver support: makes KanjiBox partly accessible to blind and visually-impaired users. This feature can also be used by sighted users to have their device read Japanese text on the screen (see more info here).
  • UI improvements: nicer controls and improved graphics. Say hi to KanjiBox’s new mascots: キツネちゃん & タヌキくん! (check out Quiz mode).
  • Automated Crash report: lets you automatically send me useful info when you experience a crash (using the QuincyKit lib for iPhone).

This covers all the main stuff for this release… Many more exciting features are in the pipeline for next version (I will soon post here a tentative roadmap for next version).


KanjiBox goes Universal…

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

When the iPad first came out, it was in theory possible to produce “universal” applications: apps that ran natively on both iPhone/iPod and iPad devices. However, Apple made it quite difficult to do so, by keeping versions of iOS between the two devices out of sync for over a year (3.2 on the iPad, 4.x on the iPhone): this meant a lot more work to support a universal application, in addition to the initial work of optimising iPhone layouts and code for iPad screens. Furthermore, iTunes Store’s slowass approval process made it a scary thought imposing yet another string of initial bug-fixing releases for both iPad and legacy iPhone users.

For all these reasons and the usual lack of time, I originally decided to develop and release the iPad version of KanjiBox separately. Although less than ideal, this choice allowed me to release an iPad-optimised version reasonably early instead of waiting for better development conditions.

A year later, Apple has finally cleaned up its line-up and brought iPad’s OS version up to speed with the iPhone. It was time to finally put in the time and effort necessary to merge the two versions.

The merge is finally over! You can now download a version of KanjiBox that will run natively on all iOS devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad, iToilet…)

This version replaces the formerly iPhone/iPod-only version in the Apple store, meaning it is a transparent upgrade for users of this version.

If you previously purchased the iPad version, things are unfortunately a little more complicated… Please: (more…)

Version 1.1 is Out!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

In a massive improvement over their previous ways, Apple this time reviewed the latest upgrade of KanjiBox in only a couple hours (average waiting time used to be over two weeks)!

This latest version brings you:

Have fun and, if you like it, don’t forget to review the application in the iTunes Store: positive reviews go a long way at motivating me to keep working on cool new features!

KanjiBox 1.1β brings you… Reading mode!

Friday, February 12th, 2010

It’s only been a couple days that version 1.0 was released to the Apple Store, but 1.1 is already just around the corner.

Version 1.1 brings you two major features:
1. Integration with Pierre-Philippe di Costanzo’s awesome Japanese dictionary application: Kotoba! (clicking on a special link in detailed view directly opens Kotoba to the appropriate entry).
2. Reading quiz!

If you are a beta-tester, please download this latest beta and contact me with any comments or bug reports…

If beta testing goes well, I will upload the new version to the iTunes Store by the middle of next week.


Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Version 5.0.2 is available for download. Will only have taken *25* days for Apple to review it.
If you experience any crash after this upgrade, please contact me!

Update 0.5.1 is Out !

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Bug-fixing update 0.5.1 has finally hit the store. As usual, it is lagging a couple bug-fixes behind thanks to Apple slow-ass-ness, but you know the deal by now.

One important note: If you have been experiencing many crashes with 0.5.0, it is recommended you first delete the application from your iPod, before syncing again with iTunes (you can do this at any time and as many times as you want). This operation will unfortunately reset your KanjiBox stats, but it should greatly improve stability.

First Public Release of KanjiBox!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

After 2 full weeks of review process, Apple has finally let KanjiBox out of the cage!

It is now available for everybody to download on the iTunes store:

The introductory price has voluntarily been brought down, as a modest thank you to all the people who have been following this project from the start. Buy now if you want to save (a few cents) on the final price!

Note: Apple’s slow-ass reviewing process means that, as 0.5.0 is just released, 0.5.1 has been ready for over 10 days (it’s now in the pipeline and should be out within 2 weeks)… This small upgrade is 100% bug-fixing and performance improvement (and will be free for 0.5.0 users, of course). In the meantime, please bear with the many small imperfections and overall slowness of the current version. ごめんね〜