You guys may or may not have any clue about how exciting this is for me, but in the past I have shown my love for Skritter. Now, the iOS version is finally available and I’m super excited to share this with everyone.
The thing is, it’s surprisingly fun and simple to use. It’s actually very game-like in the mechanics, that, often, you forget that you’re really going through reviews. As such, I was backed up in reviews since May–having over 2,000 due–that just going through on the desktop version with my Wacom tablet was tiring, cumbersome, and quite frankly, I pretty much stopped using Skritter.
Within 2 days of using this app my 2,000+ reviews were squashed.
Not to mention it is beautiful, too.
The interface is very intuitive, and it corrects any mistakes immediately. Hand drawing the tone line is also really great because you associate the tone with the character and with the hand movement. Quite effective. I have also found that now I’ll remember the shape of the tone line with the character.
It’s also a breeze to add new characters on the fly:
I use this for when I’m reading through an article and come across words I’d like to study later, just put them in and on the train ride home I’m all set to review them. Speaking of reviews, there is also direct access to your progress and other stats within the app, so you can always see how you’re doing.
Of course there is a price involved, and Skritter is a subscription service. The iOS app is free, though, so there’s no extra charge there. It’s about $10 US a month for the subscription. It’s the only subscription service I use right now, if that is any sign of how important I think it is. ChinesePod (which can integrate with Skritter by the way) never really appealed to me. The niche Skritter has is very unique to me, as writing Chinese has always been what got me into Chinese to begin with. $10/month is, to me, a fantastic value. Plus I have noticed leaps of improvements in my reading and speaking and tones are also heavily tested. I’ll touch more on this later in a future entry on “Tools for Graduate School in a Foreign Language”. But, for now, let me just say it is been an incredible asset to my studies. Oh! And Japanese is, though not strong, a part of Skritter too which has been a nice way to practice for me as well–at no extra charge. So, when that app is released I will probably be even more excited.
One of my gripes, though, is sometimes you will be going on a streak, then find that the app holds up as it counts down reviews. (For example it may be at 600, then count down to 540 or so while you wait, hanging at the last review card you did). It’s a minor issue that only bothers me when I’m prepped to review on the train to school, otherwise everything else considered I can pretty much ignore it.
In addition, sometimes on start-up you’ll get a Syncing dialog and have to wait for it to finish syncing to continue. Afterward, you often have to wait for the word lists to build. While all very fast, it might catch the user off guard. At any rate, I plan ahead for them now by starting the app a few seconds before I intent to review (such as before going out the door).
Of course, I also wouldn’t mind if it had Zhuyin (bopomofo) support, but I can get by without it. There may be an option for direct Chinese<–>Chinese definitions, but I haven’t found it (or tried) but that would also be immensely useful for me.
Overall, they did an amazing job with the app. It’s very obvious they put in the time and effort with it, and I can say that you won’t be disappointed. It’s a beautiful app, runs fine on my iPhone 3GS, with next to no crashing or lag. If you’re a Skritter user, go get it. Now.
(Actually a buddy of mine ran out to get a new iPod touch just for the app!)
That all said, go check it out. Download it, play with it, you know, have some fun. See what you think. I’d be happy to offer any other answers to questions you may have on it. It is quite ironic, as initially I had been very skeptical of Skritter, but now it is a deeply integrated part of my study process.