Kanji Recognizer v2.0

It's been a while since the last release, but the latest version is finally available. The focus of this release is an improved new UI and full support for tablets.

The app is now using an action bar for easier access to key functionality. This is a feature originally only available on the Honeycomb (3.x) and Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) Android versions, but Kanji Recognizer uses the excellent ActionBarSherlock library to bring ot bar to previous versions as well. Functions that were previously only accessible via the overflow menu (displayed when you press the menu key), now have an icon on the action bar. That will hopefully make it easier for new users to find and try them. Here's how the main screen looks in version 2.0:

The three icons on the right side of the action bar start the quiz, character search and history/favorites screens, respectively. Less frequently used features, such as the Settings and About screens are still in the overflow menu, so you need to press the menu key to display those. All other screens also have a home icon on the left, providing an easy way to get to the main screen from anywhere (see the quiz details screenshot below). 

It is now  easier to add kanji for later review directly from the writing quiz. When reviewing the quiz answers, simply press the star icon to add the character to your favorites. You can later create a customized quiz containing the characters you starred, or export your favorites to a CSV file to create flashcards.

Offline access to kanji stroke order is another often-requested feature added in this release. If you have the premium version, you can enable it in Settings. Once you download and extract the stroke order database (4MB download, 9MB decompressed), all of the app's features will be available even when offline.

As mentioned in the introduction, the app now fully supports tablets. The UI is very similar on handsets and tablets, but on tablets the app takes advantage of the bigger screen to display more information where applicable. The most notable example of this is the kanji search result screen: search results and kanji details are displayed in a single window and tapping on a kanji in the list updates the details in place (screenshot below). Font sizes and layout have also been optimized for best viewing on tablet screens. 

Another thing worth nothing is that version 2.0 now requires Android 2.1. Most users shouldn't be affected by this, since almost 99% of installs are already on devices running Android 2.1 and later. Users of Android 1.6 and 2.0 can still get v1.7.2 from the Android Market, but no new features are planned for that version.

Other notable changes in this release:
  • Reduced startup time
  • Better error handling/reporting
  • Various optimizations and bug fixes
Last but not least: the app now has a Google+ page. Add it to your circles to get the latest updates and tips.


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