Android! (and OCR!)

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mikelove

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sfrrr said:
The Adroid market seems to be composed of a bunch of inexperienced (yes?) developers either shamelessly stealing WinMo and Symbian apps. That explains some of it, but not all. Technologically, is Android 3.0 at about the stage of Windows PPC before 2003? And is it a problem of software or hardware?
You'd probably need a more experienced Android hand to give you a definitive answer on this, but in general I'd say that Android makes it easier even than iPhone to build interfaces using standard, Google-supplied buttons and text boxes and such, but harder than iPhone or Windows Mobile to build your own custom ones. So there's a lot of incentive to stick with what Google gives you and not try to make things any prettier. The developers are different also, though - Apple was blessed with a tradition of beautiful Mac apps dating back to years before iPhone, and a base of enthusiasts who crave / eagerly reward those apps, while most of the hardcore Android fans come from the cool-features-with-hacked-together-UIs world of Linux or the homogenous-but-very-very-bland world of Windows.

And it's a bit of a psychological thing - Apple's built-in apps do look lovely, many third-party ones look lovelier still, and Apple makes it incredibly easy to get your simple app looking pretty, which in turn encourages you to spend more time tweaking and perfecting the look, design / license some better custom icons, maybe play around with color schemes and gradients and so on. Pretty begets pretty, in other words - if Android gets up to a critical mass of apps with lovely, totally-customized UIs it's likely a lot more developers will invest the time in UI beautification. (though some improvements from Google's end in 3.0 would also help)

nairbv said:
I really hope the issues with the Oxford dictionary can be worked out though, I've bought 2-3 paper ones at one time or another, and I do like them.
Thanks - would this hold true for the Oxford Concise even though there's a much larger Oxford out now? (this question is for everyone, actually - would you still want Oxford Concise E&C back in Pleco if you can't get the big new Oxford Chinese Dictionary in it?)

nairbv said:
I just subscribed to the mailing list, keep us updated if you do come up with device recommendations. I might buy a device in advance if I know it will run pleco well.
We'll try - hopefully the Android 3.0 announcement will clarify things considerably in this regard.
 
All of this is very good news. One question about the OCR function. Can you use it on texts that are written top to bottom? It looks in the video as though you can resize the little green box vertically as well as horizontally...
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
whitebigsanitation said:
All of this is very good news. One question about the OCR function. Can you use it on texts that are written top to bottom? It looks in the video as though you can resize the little green box vertically as well as horizontally...
Yes, though not yet in the experimental still image capture mode, only in the official live-video-based one shown off in the video.
 

zimago

Member
Mike, I decided to make a career pause (after 12 years working like hell) and take some time for some serious Chinese learning. I will basically study Chinese at home for the next few months ... You can imagine how I'm thrilled about this OCR plugin ! It will probably save me a lot of time, I just hope it'll work with Chinese subtitles : in order to immerse myself, I watch several hours of 电视剧 per day (Chinese drama series), and as soon as I don't know a character, I currently have to input it "by hand" with Pleco, which is VERY time-consuming ... So I hope this OCR plugin will be able to scan the characters on my monitor !!!

Been using Pleco as my only dictionary for years, great job. Hope that "a few weeks" doesn't mean 4 weeks but rather 2 ! ;-)

Congrats again + kind Regards.

Zimago
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
zimago said:
So I hope this OCR plugin will be able to scan the characters on my monitor !!!
That usually seems to work OK, though the monitor's refreshing can occasionally cause problems. The main issue with subtitles, though, is that the OCR system has a very hard time differentiating characters from the background if there's any sort of background pattern - if it's white characters on a black background it should be OK, but they're superimposed on the actual image the system might not pick them up. Not much we can do about that without a couple of PhD's in computer vision :)
 

zimago

Member
Well, most of the 电视剧 I watch definitely have white hanzi over black background, so I guess that'll do the job ;-)

Can't wait to install this plugin.

Cheers,

Z
 

zimago

Member
Mike, it's been nearly 2 weeks since your last announcement, are you now able to give us an approximate release date for this OCR plugin ? Any update would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Z
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
rollingball said:
Will the ocr be available on Windows phones? and also, any more news about the release date?
Unfortunately no - WM sales simply aren't high enough any more to justify developing it for those devices, and on Windows Phone 7, even if we were developing a version of Pleco for that, it wouldn't be possible to support OCR since there's no way we could get the performance to be acceptable running in managed .NET code (the only kind of code Microsoft currently allows).

Release-date-wise, we got the weekend without an Apple approval but hopefully sometime next week.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
zimago said:
Hum ... Something wrong with Apple ? Seems to take ages to publish this OCR update ...
Partly because we had to pull it and resubmit with some urgent bug fixes - they're only at about a week on the latest submission. Usually they either just barely make it in a week (in which case we'd expect it to be approved today) or they blow way past it (in which case it might not be approved until next week) - the statistics they occasionally put up on their website about approval times list the percentage of apps approved within a week, so that's clearly what they shoot for, but lately those statistics have been hovering in the 60-80% range IIRC...
 

Stump

秀才
Hi there, I am a WM6 user and Im quite excited to hear there will be an Android version.

I'd just like to take the opportunity of submitting two features I'd love to see in the coming versions of Pleco
o An etymoly/character dictionary such as the one of zhongwen.com (or the paper version 中文字譜) with the entry directly put in the character info page - at least something more elaborated than wenlin's
o A simplified flashcard management. It would be nice to be able to directly add a character that has just been checked to the flashcard-list of one's choice - IE not going through the flashcard management page but having a kind of default list and add the word to this list directly with a button on the toolbar.

Probably not the first to express those needs I guess, so it must probably be difficult to implement.

Anyway congrats to Mike for the on-going success of Pleco and thanks for this terrific software.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Stump said:
o An etymoly/character dictionary such as the one of zhongwen.com (or the paper version 中文字譜) with the entry directly put in the character info page - at least something more elaborated than wenlin's
We've literally been trying for years to get one of them - we're about at a point now where we're ready to commission our own given the total lack of alternatives. (anybody with relevant linguistics / editorial experience, drop me a line)

Stump said:
o A simplified flashcard management. It would be nice to be able to directly add a character that has just been checked to the flashcard-list of one's choice - IE not going through the flashcard management page but having a kind of default list and add the word to this list directly with a button on the toolbar.
Not quite sure what you mean - you can already directly add a card to a category by tap-holding on the + button, or set a default category via Settings / Flashcards. Exactly which screen would you be adding the character from?
 

zimago

Member
The OCR plugin is now available on the App Store, I bought my own copy, and the only thing I can say is : BRAVO guys ... I've been waiting for this for several years now. It will definitely save A LOT of time, I was quite fed up with inputting everything by hand ;-)

Good job, really ! Congrats to the team.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
zimago said:
The OCR plugin is now available on the App Store, I bought my own copy, and the only thing I can say is : BRAVO guys ... I've been waiting for this for several years now. It will definitely save A LOT of time, I was quite fed up with inputting everything by hand
Thank you! Really exciting to be able to release that at last.
 

Sarevok

进士
Mike, could you possibly make another video of the full version in action? I mean with the polished interface and all... well, only if there is any significant difference, otherwise it's not necessary I suppose. There are some iPhone users among my friends, who would be definitely interested in that...
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Sarevok said:
Mike, could you possibly make another video of the full version in action? I mean with the polished interface and all... well, only if there is any significant difference, otherwise it's not necessary I suppose. There are some iPhone users among my friends, who would be definitely interested in that...
There have actually been a couple of others posted now by users, though aside from some modest UI improvements it hasn't changed that much - I'm a bit wary of posting too many official demo videos because those 50,000+ views on the current one give it a better position in search results than we're likely to see from any subsequent demo video.
 
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