Poll: Importance of Flashcards on Android

How important to you is flashcard support in a prospective Android version of Pleco?

  • Not at all - I don't use / don't plan to use Pleco for flashcards

    Votes: 3 6.8%
  • Not very - I use flashcards, but I'd still buy / use Pleco without them if I could easily export dic

    Votes: 26 59.1%
  • Very - I wouldn't buy / wouldn't use Pleco without flashcards

    Votes: 15 34.1%

  • Total voters
    44

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Strictly non-scientific, but just curious to see how it'll come down. Porting flashcards to Android would involve a ton of development time so they're definitely something we'd like to avoid if possible.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
More that we're trying to figure out what it would entail - if flashcards are a necessity then that means roughly twice as much code to port over as in a flashcard-less version. So the best result this survey could have generated Android-wise would actually be the complete opposite of what it did, i.e., very few people caring about flashcards in any form. As I said, though, strictly non-scientific so not much of a basis for decision-making.
 

koreth

榜眼
Flashcards would be a *very* big nice-to-have for me since they're the primary thing I use Pleco for on a day-to-day basis, but if I could use a decent external app I'd probably be okay with that.
 

Zeldor

举人
Would pleco flashcards support writing answers in chinese characters? Just pressing "right" and "wrong" in Anki is a bit poor...
 

Miles

Member
I would buy Pleco regardless, although I'd rather pay a premium now provided the full feature set would be added later over the years.

I could get a iPod Touch, but I'm never going to carry 2 devices, among which one only for Pleco. So if Pleco stayed WME/iPhone only, it would mean the same as getting a portable dictionary, but for the same reasons (portability) I wouldn't.

I could change my phone for a Meego or a S^3 device if it supported Pleco though ;) And if you used Qt for the app you could target Windows, OSX, Linux (I'd buy that one too), Meego, S^3 and probably Android and OSX Mobile in a while...
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
But charging that premium means we're obligated to add the promised feature set, so from our perspective we're much better off charging for what we release and distributing new features as paid add-ons when they become available. Though since much of the price is still related to dictionary modules, the discount we could offer for stripped-down software wouldn't be all that high.
 

risandres

秀才
For me, the main and almost sole use of pleco is the search in the dictionaries (very heavy use). The Flashcards is a nice addon but I make very few use of it (I should use it more, but for me is faster to learn new vocabulary in a list in a paper that one by one).
About the Reader addon, I also use few times, but I would prefer it over the Flashcards.

I would like to see a version of Pleco for Android because after I tested all the systems, I like it the most. Specially over the iphone because is cheaper and I'm a Linux Desktop user for many years, and I could develop for it. Even I also don't like much the use of Java in Android. But the result is great and it is becoming very quickly greater and greater.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Thanks!

I truly loathe Java, but the continued improvements to the Android Native Development Kit (just got the ability to edit images, e.g.) have me holding out hope that in another release or two (maybe Android 2.4 "Profiterole") it'll be possible to implement an app entirely in native code; adding support for that would massively improve their odds of getting people to develop simultaneously for Android and iPhone.
 

Zeldor

举人
Java is getting better and better and also faster. And it's quite easy [but I may be flawed, as I program in JEE]. It looks ugly in the beginning, but it gets quite easy and nice later [if anything can be easy and nice in programming, that is :)].
 

koreth

榜眼
I think Java is fine too (having coded professionally in a bunch of languages from 6502 assembly on up) but I'd much rather not have a Pleco port that's written partially in a language that the lead developer either (a) dislikes, or (b) is not expert in. And I say that as someone who would probably go out and buy an Android phone the instant Pleco was available for it.
 
I'm glad the NDK is shaping up. If it goes all the way is that enough that you'd be willing to do the port or are your other android concerns still weighing heavily on your decision?

I would certainly be willing to pay to move to the android version of the software if I could take my current dictionaries with me, even if flashcards weren't part of the deal. I'd hope to get them later on, but I'd be willing to take the risk of them never materializing when I made my purchase. The right android device still isn't even on the horizon for me, but then again the OS isn't quite where I'd like it to be either. But it's hard to imagine HTC won't have about the right device within a year. Right now I'm eagerly awaiting details on the HTC Vision.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Zeldor - Java just has too much "stuff," that's a big part of my problem with it - too many concepts / operators / types / baseline classes / etc. In school I was a test-score-shattering math prodigy until somewhere in between multivariate calculus and linear algebra, where the number of things to memorize finally hit a level where I could no longer retain everything I'd need to work on a problem in active memory at once - my own personal version of cache thrashing. Working in C I can often go weeks without ever needing to consult a reference manual, while even after a fair amount of time trying to master Java I find that I'm still constantly having to go back to the documentation.

sui.generis - if Android offered the ability to easily develop a GUI-based application entirely in native C/C++ code then yes, I think there'd almost certainly be a Pleco port then. I still don't like the platform or the company behind it that much - the UI feels inelegant and hacked-together even in the official / built-in apps, and Google has way more power than any company can be trusted with - but business is business, and with full native development support and the commensurate improvements in development time / lack-of-frustration I don't think I'd have sufficient grounds to keep saying no.

(I still don't get why Apple is so evil - what's the worst they can do, force you to go to a website to download pornography instead of getting it an app? Google delisting your company in their search results is basically a corporate death sentence)
 

zahntorg

Member
I have been a heavy anki user for about a year or two. For me making it easy to add cards from Pleco into anki would be ideal, but if Pleco had no flashcard support built in I wouldn't care much, since all I would use a Pleco specific flashcard function for would be as a sort of list of cards to add into anki later.

Maybe it would be possible to interface flashcard stuff with anki since anki is already open source and available for many platforms?

I actually haven't really tried the mobile anki much so I don't know if it offers a similar user experience to the desktop version, but as long as it synchs up with the anki server i'd probably still do much of my reviewing on my computer.
 
mikelove said:
sui.generis - if Android offered the ability to easily develop a GUI-based application entirely in native C/C++ code then yes, I think there'd almost certainly be a Pleco port then. I still don't like the platform or the company behind it that much - the UI feels inelegant and hacked-together even in the official / built-in apps, and Google has way more power than any company can be trusted with - but business is business, and with full native development support and the commensurate improvements in development time / lack-of-frustration I don't think I'd have sufficient grounds to keep saying no.

(I still don't get why Apple is so evil - what's the worst they can do, force you to go to a website to download pornography instead of getting it an app? Google delisting your company in their search results is basically a corporate death sentence)
Good to hear.

Apple isn't evil, but they consistently limit feature sets to the lowest common denominator and engage in opaque anti-competitive behavior. Apple isn't about hardware anymore really -- they're about content. They learned a lot about mobile profits with iTunes (they exploited DRM to gain market dominance and then once they had all the benefit they could, they proclaimed freedom from DRM and took credit for doing so. Now they've buttressed an anti-ebook coalition of publishers who they'll be screwing a few years from now so they could undermine Amazon's pro consumer stance in the short term...and on and on. It's fair hard ball, but why would I want any part of it?), and the iPhone and iPad are salesmen for their real products. Their motivation is the biggest problem with Apple: they feel they need to lock people in to their system and they've chosen to do so by locking competitors (like Adobe) out rather than by outperforming them. This doesn't disqualify them as a good platform, just as a platform for me.

Google does have more power than Apple, and I'm sure they've abused it before (see google restricts cougars) and will again. Yet the overall policies of the company are to bring a feature rich enviornment (even features Zunie MS engineers will tell us that people just don't use) to the table so I can do whatever I want with my mobile. As to delisting, Google is fairly open about their policies (transparent, not opaque), and has been extremely willing to engage and correct mistakes. They've never been I've never seen a company Google's size be so responsive to their constituents. Yesterday's pacman doodle pissed people off because it autoplayed and blared the pacman music over their speakers. They complained, within hours Google fixed it. Corporations that size filter complaints so much they cease to exist long before they make it to someone who can fix the problem -- but same day service? No frakking way. Google's motivation and their consistent plans to pursue that motivation, however, is most encouraging. Their product is ad space, period. Don't want to use google services? That's okay (usually :wink: ), their ads are everywhere. Even their content competitors can use them. Google tries to enhance Android with Google product association, but they don't block competition to their services. Google bought Android to make certain the mobile internet didn't get proprietized or stripped down by a wave of increasingly controlled mobile environments that would ultimately be able to cut out their ad products (mostly to protect themselves from MS hegemony at the time). They're just as soulless as Apple is, but at the end of the day, I like their policies, their way of achieving massive wealth and power more than Apple's. Google wins even when their mobile competitors succeed. But a strong Android platform helps ensure that their mobile competitors don't get too far from providing strong mobile web experiences.

I don't need anyone to like Google because I do, and I recommend iPhones to people all the time when it suits their needs (typically when they have few needs and want a nice clean simple experience). Android will suit my needs better (winmo 6.1 does today, garnet did not that long ago.). I'm glad Apple has worked out well for Pleco, but I'd rather hold on to antiquated hardware to keep Pleco than subject my mobile experience to Apple policies. I'm also glad they now have a real app centric competitor. 10 to 1 Opera Mini never would have been approved if Apple weren't facing stiff future competition. And neither MS nor HPalm (nor BB and Symbian for that matter -- they're playing in a different space) were going to threaten Apple's position enough to keep them honest. For that matter, I'm glad Google will have stiff competition too. It will keep them honest as well. 10 years down the road, when Google is "evil" (when their policies have turned anti-competitive) and Apple has returned to their roots as the freedom machine to take advantage of Google missteps, I'll be begging you to support Apple while ivy league mike defends Google and can't possibly understand why anyone would want to use anything else.

And if you fell asleep half way through that, you have only yourself to blame. You brought it up and essentially insinuated (again) I am/other Android pushers are mindlessly anti-Apple and that's the only reason to push for an Android version. I don't take it personally, but I felt compelled to correct the record. What else could I do? LEAVE?? Then you'd have kept being wrong!
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
zahntorg - thanks! Anki integration is a possibility, though in that case we'd definitely need to develop some sort of Pleco-to-Anki exporter for people transferring from another platform.

sui.generis - Apple isn't about hardware? It's still where almost all of their profits come from - if they've done anything anti-competitive with DRM it's been to use DRMed content to make people keep buying Apple hardware, not the other way around. The only reason there isn't DRM in music now is that Apple became too powerful doing that, and the music companies decided they were better off with no DRM than with Apple owning their market - hence Amazon's MP3 store and the speedy removal of DRM from iTunes soon after.

On ebooks, if Apple hadn't launched publisher-controlled pricing then somebody else would have - I suspect Google Editions will end up with a similar "agency model" simply because the publishers know they don't have to agree to anything else, and Amazon will find themselves in that situation too once it comes time to renew their agreements. The publishing industry simply isn't willing to give up control of pricing; unlike music and movies, for which, even in the pre-downloadable-content days, prices for big releases tended not to deviate more than a few dollars from the norm, the book industry has always had its $40 hardcovers and $5 mass-market paperbacks, and nobody is yet in a position to take that away from them.

Google is responsive to complaints when it suits them, but the many times I've contacted them about Pleco piracy - removing cracked applications that were hosted on Google Docs, removing Google advertising from pirate message boards, delisting pirate websites (I knew that one was a long shot, but it seems entirely reasonable to me that people at least have to go to a little effort to find a pirated copy of Pleco) - they've consistently ignored me or given me the runaround; their right to make money off of other people's content trumps those people's right to make money off of it, as far as they're concerned. Even very sketchy file hosting sites will generally take down pirated content after you email them a complaint within hours, whereas with Google you have to contact them by fax or mail and you generally don't hear back for a week or more. People upset about Pac Man on Google's home page might have decided to try their luck with Bing, so naturally they responded to those complaints the second they knew about them, but Google isn't hurt at all by people pirating Pleco.

Apple's philosophy of end-to-end control of the user experience actually jibes very closely with Pleco's - our early success came primarily from the fact that you could get your Chinese dictionary, Chinese display system and Chinese handwriting input on Palm OS from a single company in a well-integrated package, and a big part of our success on iPhone is owing to that same sort of integration. I've spent enough time doing tech support to know that for most users, giving up a little flexibility in exchange for a consistent, polished, easy-to-use product is a more than worthwhile tradeoff. And to be honest, the only way we'd make enough money on an Android version to make it a good investment would be if we could likewise convince people to get their dictionary / handwriting / flashcards (if we offered them) / reader / etc all from us, in spite of the much greater ease of plugging in alternatives to those things on Android.

Google's behavior with Android annoys me because they already are acting anti-competitive, they're doing the exact same thing Microsoft has done numerous times in the past - see another company succeeding in a way that threatens their monopoly, then launch a product on which they're losing a ton of money and have little or no hope of ever making any money in order to protect that monopoly. Would they ever have been in any danger of no longer being the default search engine on iPhone if they hadn't developed Android? Would they even have had to worry about iAd in that case? Microsoft has a much more dominant market share than Apple and unlike Apple they're capable of developing / have developed their own search engine, but that doesn't seem to have hurt Google much - Chrome OS was launched years after Android and their efforts on it even now seem half-hearted at best.

As far as 10 years from now, I still believe that the end game for all of this is web-based apps; honestly I was kind of hoping that iPhone OS would be the last new mobile platform we'd have to support, that Apple would hold on to a dominant market share for long enough that by the time it faded we could just move everything over to the web and be able to focus solely on improving the product rather than accommodating consumers' mercurial preferences in mobile devices. And I'm still holding out hope for that, but I'm increasingly worried that I'll have no choice but to spend another 2 years promising that things like sentence-based flashcards and desktop (or web-based) sync are "coming soon" while laboring away on implementing the exact same features again on a new platform for the 4th or 5th time.
 
mikelove said:
Google's behavior with Android annoys me because they already are acting anti-competitive, they're doing the exact same thing Microsoft has done numerous times in the past - see another company succeeding in a way that threatens their monopoly, then launch a product on which they're losing a ton of money and have little or no hope of ever making any money in order to protect that monopoly. Would they ever have been in any danger of no longer being the default search engine on iPhone if they hadn't developed Android? Would they even have had to worry about iAd in that case? Microsoft has a much more dominant market share than Apple and unlike Apple they're capable of developing / have developed their own search engine, but that doesn't seem to have hurt Google much - Chrome OS was launched years after Android and their efforts on it even now seem half-hearted at best.
Android's mobile experience, on the other hand, isn't anticompetitive. And offering a free product to anyone who wants it to hurt another product people are still able to buy isn't the sort of anticonsumer anticompetitiveness that bothers me. Indeed, I wish more companies would be anticompetitive like that. It was precisely the danger of other large monopolistic companies (MS back then, when Android was purchased the iPhone hadn't hit yet) potentially shutting google out (without allowing for a fair fight) that led to Android. I think it was a completely justified fear (as a current MS user).

While I do empathize with pleco's piracy struggles, I would actually defend Google for not rushing to take down every page with an allegation of piracy. I want them to be hesitant to censor information because not every censorship request is so benign, and I would imagine they receive 10s, if not hundreds of thousands of similar requests. Google did not create the piracy problem nor should they be held responsible for plugging every leak. I still maintain they are the single most constituent responsive company of their size and consider that a huge plus when choosing a mobile OS company.

But I'm glad you got to vent a little. Sounds like you've been eager to get that off your chest.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Microsoft's browser experience wasn't anti-competitive in the way that you define it either - they certainly made it harder for other browsers to compete by bundling their browser with their OS (which every OS maker, including Google, does now, and which one can argue was as fundamental a feature as a built-in text editor by 1999 or so), but AFAIK they never made any particular effort to, say, block the websites of competing software companies. Giving away IE for free was the real thing that killed Netscape / led to years of domination until other comparable free alternatives emerged.

Microsoft did, however, use a whole lot of web standards / programming languages that were different from those of other browsers, forcing everyone to go to far more effort to support IE in their websites than to support other browsers like Mozilla / Opera / WebKit / etc, and in this respect I'd say they were very similar to Google. Prior to Android, the three mobile OSes that actually had thriving third-party development scenes - Palm, Windows Mobile, and very late in the game iPhone - were all primarily developed for in native C (or its derivatives), and developers working on more than one platform (like Pleco and thousands of others) generally had nice stable platform-independent code bases in C. Indeed there are some early forum discussions where Google was attacked by members of the Linux community for pushing their own brand new Java-based API instead of embracing / enhancing / mobile-ifying an existing one like Qt or GTK+.

You can argue that Java is better for security / hardware-independence, that it was a sensible design decision even if it did make life harder for developers, but Microsoft made those same sorts of arguments with IE / ActiveX / etc. The fact is that nobody else was using Java, and that having to develop two versions of your cross-platform code, one in Java for Android and one in C for everybody else, is every bit as irritating as having to develop a special IE-only version of your website. It's also worth noting that it's considerably hard to get Java apps running fast on a brand new operating system than apps written in native code, so if Google does succeed in taking over the mobile universe with Android, they'll have made it that much more difficult for another little software company to come along and beat them, or for developers to cross-develop for Android and whatever that newcomer is.

I wouldn't necessarily mind Google taking their time about piracy claims if they eventually did something about them, but when they repeatedly have their attention drawn to a bulletin board the primary purpose of which is clearly to distribute pirated software, and when even after several months that bulletin board continues to pirate software and to run Google advertisements, there's no way to attribute that to simple caution. The problem of course is that most of the companies investing an effort in defending their IP are companies people aren't very sympathetic to - movie studios / record companies / etc - and Google can come off well with the public even if they give them a hard time, but the same copyright laws that protect Mickey Mouse also keep Pleco in business.

That's something I haven't seen many statistics on, actually - incidence of piracy in Android apps. With iPhone there certainly are a lot of pirates by raw numbers, but since the vast majority of iPhones aren't jailbroken, for most iPhone users pirating software isn't a real possibility. We were hit pretty badly by crackers on Windows Mobile a few months after 2.0 came out (seriously, if you look at the charts there are two nearly-vertical lines, a big drop in sales and a big jump in downloads of our crackable free demo software) - not that unexpected, I suppose, we make very expensive software for a user base that's even more exposed to piracy than most people (on account of it's prevalence in China) - and with Android there's a strong likelihood we could end up similarly bludgeoned. I'm certainly not trying to suggest that Android users are naturally more likely to pirate software than iPhone users, only that people who are open to pirating software but not willing to go to the effort of hacking their phone / violating their warranty would have a considerably easier time stealing Pleco on Android than on iPhone.
 
Top