New JLPT Levels: N5 to N1…

March 21st, 2010

Many people have asked when I would add support for new JLPT levels (N5, N4, N3, N2 and N1… replacing old 4級 through 1級). Short answer is: Real Soon Now™.

The more nuanced answer is that we are working on it actively, but gathering data for the new level (only N3 differs significantly from previous levels: other should match roughly the old J4-J1 levels) is a very slow and uncertain process. There are no official lists of kanji or vocabulary for the new levels and the only way to proceed, is to cull them from existing textbook exercises and training tests (on the mostly valid assumption that said textbooks’ editors routinely have business “lunches” with JLPT people where secret lists of kanji might change hands). Since I would prefer the lists to be somewhat validated by official tests, it might be difficult to release an update before late Spring (when the next JLPT exam takes place)…

As an aside: take all the alleged “updated JLPT” lists you see floating around with a large grain of salt: they are all based on interpolation and essentially just break down former J2 level in two groups along grade level (for kanji) and frequency (for vocabulary): a breakdown that is far from verified in practice.

Until then, I would simply advise people who want to train for N3 to use 2級 for now (keeping in mind that it is largely above N3, but still the closest we have).

In the meantime, stats syncing and online scores should arrive soon!

KanjiBox 1.2: FlashCards and more!

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!

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!

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

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!

Japanese Music Quiz: Answers!

December 11th, 2009

Congratulations to all those who played this week’s Japanese Music Quiz!

Seems like it was a tough one (guess I should have included more Naruto theme songs, huh). Few people got more than a couple. Although one Japanese music champion out there, managed to grab an 18.5 out of 20, only a few hours after the quiz went up last week. Anyway: all 3 winners received their coupons: thanks to everybody else for playing…

And without further ado, the solution:

#1: Yellow Magic OrchestraBehind the Mask (Fantastic Plastic Machine remix).

#2: A much tougher one: BirdGame

#3: Überfamous Theme from ルパン三世, covered by no-less-famous Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

#4: 60’s classic 夜明けのスキャット, sung by 由紀さおり.

#5: Misia’s Sunny Day (remixed by Joe Clausel).

#6: Another delightfully dated 60’s Japanese classic: どしゃぶりの雨の中で, sung by 和田アキ子.

#7: Shibuya-kei legends Pizzicato 5, singing a very jazzy live version of Audrey Hepburn Complex (couldn’t find a link to the version I have, so had to link another less jazzy version, but you can also check out the very trippy 80s original music video).

#8: CorneliusDrop: ’nuff said…

#9: Personal 60’s J-Pop favourite of mine: 奥村チヨ singing the surprisingly outrageous 恋の奴隷.

#10: A bonus track meant to weed out the amateurs from the pros (and it did)… Akakage’s 恋のCha Cha Cha

Japanese Music Quiz Game: Free KanjiBox iTunes Coupons!

December 5th, 2009

To celebrate the end of JLPT madness (for the time being) and the end of year altogether, I thought now might be a good time to distribute a few iTunes coupons for a free download of KanjiBox for iPhone.

The rules are simple:

  • Listen to the 10 Japanese music samples below and identify as many as you can.
  • Send your submission to kanjibox.quiz at
  • First 3 people with the highest number of correct guesses (out of 10 artists + 10 track names) win 3 iTunes coupons, each, for a free download of KanjiBox for iPhone.
  • On Friday (Dec. 11) evening, Kyoto time, I will post the answers here and name the lucky winners.

#1: [audio:Track_1.mp3]

#2: [audio:Track_2.mp3]

#3: [audio:Track_3.mp3]

#4: [audio:Track_4.mp3]

#5: [audio:Track_5.mp3]

#6: [audio:Track_6.mp3]

#7: [audio:Track_7.mp3]

#8: [audio:Track_8.mp3]

#9: [audio:Track_9.mp3]

#10: [audio:Track_10.mp3]

All these tracks are performed by one or many Japanese artists and rank from the super-obvious to the slightly more obscure, but are all rather popular in their own genre.

Feel free to team up to multiply your chances at identifying them all (there are 3 free coupons per winner, to be shared however you see fit if you win as a team).

Note: because of restrictions placed by Apple, free application coupons on the iTunes Store can only be redeemed with the US Store. However, I believe it is possible to temporarily change your store affiliation to claim a coupon.

Have fun!

Development Resumed

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!

Beating up a dead horse…

November 20th, 2009

… but keeps repeating:
Apple’s Mistake
… sums up my thoughts (and no doubt those of nearly all iPhone developers, if my conversations are any indication).

Yet Another Compatibility Problem

November 18th, 2009

Although I am unfortunately iPod-less at the moment, I have received reports of new compatibility problems, introduced by the latest version of iPhone OS.

I am still waiting on detailed crash logs from any of the people who reported these issues, in order to figure exactly what is going on. In the meantime, I have submitted yesterday an update which might fix the issue preemptively (by removing all dependencies on Apple’s useless database library).

If you are a beta-tester, please download the latest build (116) and let me know how it goes…

As usual, for everybody else, it will be up to Apple’s approval schedule. Count one to two weeks for an upgrade in the iTunes Store.