Archive for the ‘Update’ 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. []

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 1.2: FlashCards and more!

Monday, March 15th, 2010

A couple major new features in the latest release of KanjiBox (1.2):

  • Missing-Kanji Drill: a “fill-the-gap” type of kanji drill (not unlike the kind used in some JLPT sections). Also incorporated into Quiz mode for Kanji, which now features a mix of both Drill types (“classic” Kanji Def and new Missing Kanji).
  • Study Mode lets you browse through customisable sets of flashcards. Just pick a category (kanji, vocab, kana etc.), a range of JLPT levels and the size of your study set (KanjiBox will automatically start with entries that you know least).
  • Plus the usual odds and ends… (including an optional Clock Display in Drill mode, specially for Jyuichi ;-)

Same, but with colourful moving pictures?

Only needed to ask:

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.

Say Hello to KanjiBox 1.0β

Monday, January 25th, 2010

If you are currently a KanjiBox beta-tester, you should already have received an email last week (contact me if you haven’t !).

For everybody else, great news: KanjiBox 1.0 is in its final phase of beta-testing. If everything goes according to plan and no major bug occurs, it will be submitted to the iTunes Store before the end of the week.

Although the feature-list for 1.0 was brought down a little (‘Reading’ drill/quiz will have to wait the next major update), there is a considerable number of improvements, ranging from the mere cosmetic (myriads small UI touch-ups) to the core (a massive data cleanup is under way: you can still contribute by visiting KB’s page on Facebook)… With of course, the addition of Quiz mode the big news for this version.
Huge care was also given to keeping the code rock-solid and the stability impeccable. This time around, we should be able to avoid nasty crash issues and the dozen small updates that were mandated by Apple’s erratic OS updates.

Stay tuned for an official release very soon!

Development Resumed

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I finally have a development device again. Meaning I am back working full speed on adding new features for the next version of KanjiBox.

Sneak Peak

Quiz mode is coming soon!

Compatibility Fix

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Even though KanjiBox seemed to work just fine with early beta releases of OS 3.1/3.1.1, the final release version of Apple’s latest OS has broken compatibility with KanjiBox. As a result, you might experience some crashes with the app after updating your iPod/iPhone. A bug-fixing update has been submitted last week and should hit the store within a week or two (Apple willing, as usual).

Thanks for your patience.

Update: the application was just released on the iTunes Store (congrats, Apple, you are down to “only” a week waiting time for update reviews!)