iPhone Demo Video

Of course you know this already, but that looks really great. Thanks for giving us a little peek.

As much as I love my Palm TX, I can't wait to switch over to my iPhone.
Say, Mike, those videos look great. Wish I could watch one. Didn't you know that Youtube is blocked in China and has been for some time? Isn't available in our city anyhow. Do you have a way to host the video somewhere other than Youtube? Google Video is blocked as well. In any case, thanks for sending something out. Gives us hope.


Staff member
Oops, sorry, knew about that but it completely escaped my mind to put up an alternate version - doing that now.
Hey Mike,

Thanks for the video. Can you explain how the pricing will work?

Will the app be listed as different packages? (such as basic, professional, linguists ?) or will it be an in app purchase?
Will there be any kind of introductory discounted pricing to celebrate the iphone release or Pleco anniversary? :D




Staff member
We're not sure about that yet - depends a lot on Apple, they're probably not going to try to actually dictate pricing to us but they might make us change the way we distribute / package / sell the software in a way that would necessitate that we raise / lower our prices. We're planning to provide In-App purchase as at least one option, though, and if they let us we'd certainly like to allow some sort of discount / license transfer option for existing customers.
Great Video Mike. I'm sold. Now to wait for Apple. Will it help if we pester them. Vimeo loaded fine in Qingdao, but I got locked out of the second video. Even after joining their free account, I wasn't able to access the 2nd one. It's private. Oh well, the first one sold me. Thanks.


Staff member
Oops, not quite sure how that private flag got set - it's fixed now.

And it's not in Apple's hands quite yet, still have to send it out to beta testers and get their feedback / fix any new bugs; we're hoping that'll be a relatively quick process, though, since unlike with past Pleco betas we're pretty well locked-in features / design wise (and everything pretty much works).
WOWOW It really looks amazing. ( am not adding all the !!!, but please realise they are there in my tone - incredible!)

When you are in the landscape mode, then you clicked on a character to show the character info, you had to change back to portrait mode... do you think Apple will have a problem with this? I would expect it to continue in landscape mode and not make you switch your orientation. I just would hate to see you with any delays in getting approved.

Ultimate cool feature of the future... you can snap a photo of your iphone and it can use OCR to recognise it and you can pull it into the reader to do mouse over translations... maybe in 2 years? After all, you totally raised the bar for yourselves with the 'live search'

Serious cool feature, something with grammar and sentences... not sure what though... but clearly with such a large screen and fast engine, grammar study and exercises become an option.

Marketing idea - connect with the best other 'China' tools, and have a 'we recommend' section for the best tools for those living in or visiting China (you are already the only tool needed for studying Chinese!)

The two things I learned from the videos:

1. It is Pleeeeeco, not how I had been saying it (and everyone else I know!)

2. While the flashcards are delayed, you expect it only to be a month or two... that's great, I feared a year or two!

BTW, you are cruel... this is even better than any of of expected... and we still can't have it heehee

Thank you thank you... this is truly amazing... I was practically bouncing in my seat and saying WOW aloud as i watched the videos (YouTube through a VPN in Beijing)

My Treo 750 died, I bought at second hand Palm Tro Pro to tide me over... still waiting for iPhone...


Staff member

The portrait flip in that Char Info demo is actually just a bug - it normally stays in landscape, but I didn't feel like re-recording that section of the video. (still haven't traced it, actually, only seems to happen about 1 in 50 times, so hopefully the beta-test will help us determine the exact circumstances under which it happens so we can eliminate it).

OCR would be great but is definitely a while away - at the moment the camera doesn't even seem to be able to consistently scan barcodes (though I only have a 3G and not the higher-resolution 3GS - choosing not to upgrade so as to create an incentive to keep the software running smoothly on older / lower-end devices). Live mode is pretty amazing, though, yeah.

Technically the short-e version is correct for Pleco fishes at least, I've just been pronouncing it with a long e since I was a kid (which was when I came up with the name, a good decade or so before I actually needed it) so I say it Pleeeeeeco and since it's my company I get to say it that way. :) (c.f. http://www.pleco.com/company.html)

And yeah, flashcards are actually looking like they're going to be surprisingly easy - bunch of table views and one probably non-table-view thing for the main session screen. We were half-tempted to just wait and put them in the first version, but we'd really like to have a few months' worth of bug fixes in there (particularly for the file management functions) before we entrust people's flashcards to a system on which our software offers the only means of accessing them or backing them up. And anyway it's probably best not to further extend the wait at this point :)
Mike, those videos showing Plecodict on iPhone look amazing. I'd buy it (and a iPhone) without flashcards in a heartbeat when released.
Mike -

The new software looks excellent. Your policy of taking your time and getting it right really shows. I personally have been waiting for something along the lines of the experimental piece for a long time, mouseover of live web pages. While its experimental, it is great to see the direction and ideas of where you are going with all this.

Clearly this program is differentiating. Have you figured out a model to sell it for 99 cents yet???? :D

One other thing - Unicom and the iPhone, any insights on the App store they will be employing. Would your software be able to find its way to that marketplace should someone have a legitimate locked Unicom phone? Just curious - I know that Pleco is optimized for people learning Chinese, but I have spoken to more than one Chinese person who would like the program.


Staff member
Azabu - thanks!

radioman - thanks! The Live Mode web page thing actually arose sort-of by accident; we came up with a lot of the code for it originally when we were still using an embedded web browser to render dictionary entries (and hence needed a system to allow tapping on / looking up characters in those). Once we dropped that, we still had all of that nice code sitting around, so we figured out a way to make it work with any web page (without even using any undocumented APIs, amazingly enough) and while it's not quite as stable as we'd like it to be, it's a neat trick to have at our disposal. Though if you add up all of that total effort I'm not sure if it was really worth it, at least not for our first iPhone release with so much pressure to get it out ASAP :)

It works with offline HTML documents too, incidentally, though we didn't draw any attention to that in the demo - wouldn't be a good idea with a really long one, but if you wanted to, say, put each chapter of 红楼梦 in an iPhone-friendly HTML file and upload them all to your phone (the file browser supports opening .zip archives, so this wouldn't be too painful an upload) you could do that as an alternative to a text file. In a future release we plan to support HTML "document bundles" where the software would be able to maintain bookmarks / remember the last chapter viewed across multiple HTML files (and perhaps also provide an easy-to-access table of contents / index / etc) - this is also the direction we're planning to go with document reading on Windows Mobile, we're just waiting for a decent WebKit port (or for Microsoft to put out a better version of Pocket IE).

99 cents... probably not, though we do expect the (severely crippled) low-end version to be very competitive on that front. Not really sure how App Store will work in China yet, or how much effort would be involved in adapting the software for it - we might have to embed some of the larger add-on files (like audio) into the China-market version if their phones don't in fact have WiFi, since they'd be difficult to download over a regular 3G connection.

3G isn't reliable in China. It is only spotty, and doesn't work everywhere. I still just use GPRS in Beijing for all my online mobile browsing.
Not everyone is always in a WiFi spot. (For example, my language school, where I use Pleco every day in class!)
Not to mention the GFW issue which blocks sites regularly and slows overseas access down to a crawl (so many downloads time out, even on a computer)
Are you saying there wouldn't be a download over the computer then sync to your phone options, like there is now?
It could seriously impede sales and usability here if you had to download over your phone.



Staff member
The basic app can be downloaded / synced like any other iTunes app, but in our current design, add-on files like audio / additional dictionaries / etc are downloaded separately on the phone. This reduces startup time, reduces installation / backup time, prevents wasting hundreds of precious MB of surprisingly-easy-to-fill-up iPhone storage space on files you're not using, allows us to easily update data files in between version updates (so we could, for example, start doing weekly updates of CEDICT), and allows us to launch new dictionaries / add-ons / etc without waiting for a new version of our software to be approved by Apple. You don't need WiFi access at all while you're using the software, you just need it when you're installing new data files.

However, if lack of WiFi access is a problem for a lot of people I suppose we could also offer a version in which every available add-on data file was built-in; it would just lose all of those other advantages. So in that case we'd end up with two different versions of our software in iTunes, one version for people who can download files over WiFi and another for people who can't.
Mike -

The Pleco software demo on the iphone looks great. I have been using the ABC dictionary with another app on my ipod touch, but have been watching the discussion of the upcoming Pleco release on the iphone with interest. I am especially interested in the flashcard option. One thing I do find useful with the iphone's native character recognition engine (when I use the ABC dictionary app) is that after I enter a character, it suggests a second character for a two- (or more) character word. Will Pleco do the same? This saves having to write a second character - just tap the second character you want from the suggestion list.