Skritter Mobile Beta Updates


#122

First, I wanna thank you all for taking the time to write and comment on the forum, send emails, etc. and express concern rather than just running for the door. We totally should be releasing updates out and fixing little bugs while we work on bigger things. It’s the correct way to roll out updates. And we haven’t been doing that.

It has got to be supremely frustrating, especially if you’ve been supporting us and Skritter over the years. Honestly, it is frustrating for us, too. As much as we’d like to be on that path right now, we’ve had to make some tough decisions, and we feel that the short-term pause on updates is the only way to reach the long-term goal of stable apps that are updated and improved regularly-- and worth paying a premium monthly fee for.

What we’re doing right now is taking the necessary steps to ensure that we can be doing all of the things you would expect from a mobile app company like ours from here on out. We understand that the decision we’ve made has killed momentum and increased frustration–especially for those of you who have been so hardcore on Skritter.

Our current timeline for the Skritter: Write Japanese update (and the path to App Store release) is December 1st. Our team is doing everything we can right now to get the new Japanese app out for testing before that date. The Chinese app will follow shortly after that. Japanese is broken on iOS 12 and it needs replacing first. Things might have gone a bit differently had that not been the case, but it is the reality we’re dealing with and one we’re working to overcome as quickly as possible.

While we’re not writing the app from scratch, we are working hard to make some necessary changes to certain elements of the application. The coming update will help ensure that the following trouble areas are resolved from here on out.

  1. Offline access and quick syncing updates for app data (lists, study progress, example sentences, stroke data, mnemonics, decomps, etc.)
  2. An SRS review queue that doesn’t baffle the world with strange behavior and extended study sessions to just get to 0 for the day!

We’re not stopping there though. We’re also working on some killer updates that should make Skritter a more fun, useful, and rewarding study experience for all (including new users, which should help us ramp up development efforts in the future).

I don’t just wanna talk about the app, I wanna show it off as well. So, here are some images from the app as of this morning. Sorry for the unexpected color change in the app, I’m using one of the new themes that’ll be included in the app as well (we realize not everyone is a fan of Skritter’s black/green/tan experience). I proud to report that I’ve learned more Hiragana in the last week of testing than I have in my life thus far. And that is a very good sign of what these kinds of changes will do for your Skritter experience soon!

List learning and testing options for comprehensive study experience in a single list.

List section options for both learning and testing!

Learning card preview (more updates coming to this screen)

List and List Section testing controls and settings

Still concerned, angry, or frustrated? Please feel free to reach out to me personally so we can talk more. I’m happy to correspond via email or even jump on a phone call if necessary. My email is jake@skritter.com

Best,
Jake


#123

This was a great update, Jake, and just what I was looking for. Thank you. It’s good to know that the old app will be up and running soon, and that the new app will be ready before end of year.

Skritter has been VERY helpful for my post-N1 learning, and I’m excited for these changes! Offline access will be huge, especially on those long plane flights to Tokyo.


#124

First, thanks for your kind reply. So, your plan is to release the “final” official version of Japanese Skritter by 12.01 this year. The Chinese version will follow afterwards. So far so clear to me. My question is still regarding the Beta version of the Chinese version. Will we likely see any kind of update in the next days as the iOS beta will expire in a few days? I have become very dependent on Skritter and since my new semester at University has just started, I am really in a pity situation right now. So once again the question: will there be any chance to get a small update which fixes the most severe bugs mentioned above? For sure I am not requesting for any new feature here. If not in the next days, can you make any rough estimation when to expect the next Chinese beta, so I can think about alternatives to continue studying. Thanks in advance for your feedback on this.


#125

I totally understand. And thanks for writing a reply so quick! @josh will work on submitting a new build on Friday at the latest. Factoring in the weekend we should still be able to get the update out in time even if there is a rejection issue we have to address for some reason.

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure how many issues we’re going to get fixed up in the next two days. A lot of the code we’re working on right now is isolated from that version of the app. But, we’ll do what we can to include stuff if possible.

Sorry that I didn’t address this in my previous reply. This morning I checked my TestFlight before writing the reply and I looked at an internal build, not 3.0.18 that you’re on. Eight days is a lot less time than the 45 I thought we were working with.

Our current development-cycle would leave you all without the current beta and that isn’t what we intend at all.

Apologies!


#126

Thanks, so at least we will have a slightly improved beta, what is the most important thing for now. Would very appreciate if you can keep us updated here if you have any kind of new information for possible future betas incoming. I just found out that the old Chinese skritter app is working now on iOS 12. So I’m using that now temporarily until the new beta is out. Even though it’s really a pain to use that, it’s better than nothing right now :wink:
Anyways thank you once again for your communication with us and really hope to see further improvements soon!


#127

Quick update. We will be rolling out beta 3.0.20 (300084) to Apple over the next day or two. It’s hard to say when it will get approved by Apple, but we’re optimistic that it’ll be before the current beta app expires.

This release will extend the beta testing period for another 90-days on Apple devices while we continue to work on the updated Skritter: Write Japanese app and get it ready for testing and final release.

Jeremy will be doing a bit more app testing later today, but Josh and I have both used the app to study some Chinese and Japanese this morning, and things appear to be working about the same as the 3.0.18 version that’ll be expiring soon.

The one big update to the app is that we’ve fixed the bug where new characters/words appearing in the app were unwritable (@Farham that should help with your academic studies :slight_smile: ). Sorry about that nasty bug. I know we had a less than ideal workaround for a while, but a proper fix feels so much better.

As always, happy studying, and thanks for your support and patience while we work on getting these darn apps released for real!

-Jake


#128

As a quick aside to all of this. The Skritter team has been taking on the challenge of learning Kana in the new learning and testing modes we’ll be introducing to Lists and I’m quite happy with the personal progress I’ve been seeing.

Unlike new items appearing in the SRS queue along with things I already know, I’m finding the ability to drill the same few kana over and over without any grading stress to be a huge boost on my grasp of these new strokes on the screen.

Really excited to get this stuff in all of your hands. I think it’ll make learning new vocabulary a lot easier on Skritter and should be a huge boost in app functionality for those of you who are in a classroom setting and wanna ace those writing exams day in and day out!

More updates to follow as we get closer to public beta testing on the latest stuff. Stay tuned!


#129

非常感谢!Really appreciate your support and feedback!

PS. one question: as I am using the old skitter app again since yesterday, I found that the due count will reduce sometimes by 4 or even 5 if I give a correct answer. In the beta however the due count always lowers by 1 for each word. As my due count has risen in the past weeks to over 3.000 (as I did not study regularly because of the bugs) I will use the old app to decrease my due count to a normal level again :smiley:
Question remains: why is that so? And how will you address this for the new final version?


#130

The Skritter SRS due count is too smart for its own good. It tries to factor in what you’re reviewing currently and adjust items due in the future. This is to prevent an illusion of knowing something well, which can be caused by the review of a similar item moment ago. Since the calculations are happening live the due count jumps many numbers at once. Remember, each character/word on Skritter can equal four total cards (reading, writing, definition, tone), so studying one card can cause big due count adjustments. Over the long-term it really isn’t an issue as all items will get reviewed as you get closer to zero, but it leads to a lot of confusion about how the system works and what the heck is going on.

We tried to mitigate some of that in the newer beta version of the app, but there is only so much you can do with a spacing system which has been designed to always provide you with something to review. Even if you’re technically “overstudying” items that the system doesn’t think are due yet. Based on my understanding from forum posts and support meetings, this is a common issue with newer accounts and can be really frustrating. Not to mention the fact that you can’t help but just scratch your head when you’ve gotta study 50-100 items to get the due count to move down a few numbers (again, this is because the system is trying to space things out to make sure you really know it).

As such, we’re making a very radical change and making the SRS review system a lot less dynamic. You’ll now have a fixed set of daily cards to review. Study one card and decrease the number of items due by one. Do this enough and hit zero and take a break for the day. You’ve earned it!

If you’re still looking to do more studying, we’ll still offer that option, even in the SRS mode, but the app will now be designed in such a way as to encourage a more proactive learning approach through the list learning experience. Items will appear in the SRS queue only after you’ve learned them in a specific list or list section.

We are really are trying to make the experience a lot less stressful. In addition to making things super clear for everyone using the app, it also allows us to do a lot more automated testing before releasing updates. Knowing what items are due and what order they should appear in helps us bulletproof the system a lot more easily. And, hopefully, will allow us to pass some additional levels of control to you all in the future.

My initial testing impressions are very, very positive thus far. We’re also toying around with the ability to insta-ban individual items from a list you’re learning from before they go into the SRS queue. Hopefully, that’ll give us all a little more control over things we really wanna focus on committing to long-term memory without having to copy and edit lists that others have made. Studying the Avengers list on Skritter is awesome, but let’s be real–we only really wanna know how to write a few of the key heroes 5-10 years from now, right? That feature will likely need some improvement along the way, but we’re hoping to have a beta version of it ready to go when the Skritter: Write Japanese and Skritter: Write Chinese apps roll out for testing.

The other thing this new update allows us to do is offer a more robust free experience on Skritter. We’re an expensive app, and totally understand that hardcore language learning via SRS isn’t for everyone. As such, we’ll be offering select portions of certain lists free to guest accounts (forever) and also providing a free path to learning to read and write Kana (for Japanese), common radicals, and critical vocabulary to any and all interested in checking it out. This should help us boost install numbers and invest even more time, energy, and resources into providing a better learning experience to all of you wonderful people who have been supporting Skritter along the way!


#131

Thank you Jake for the detailed reply and the preview. I’m looking forward to the new version ! The new mechanics sound interesting and exactly like what I was hoping would come, which is a way to make studying more appealing by creating study sessions. My biggest issue with the current app is that if I’m zoning off, I’m not penalized. Is it planned to add an optional time limit per card ? (If that makes sense)


#132

Welcome! We haven’t really considered time constraints having an impact on grade or other things besides overall study time tracking before and haven’t planned anything for the application to date. Not out of the realm of possibilities in the future, but the focus will be making sure the basic mechanics are all working as intended first.

Hopefully, the new study modes will help keep you a little better engaged in the study experience from the start. In my experience so far the sessions are much shorter, but also feel way more focused and productive. I’m not really to the point of needing the SRS for review just yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from opening the app multiple times a day to run through a quick List section test or go through the learning experience a few more times. The learning mode flow still needs a bit of work to prevent mindless-tapping as much as we can, but we’re working on it.

I’ll post up video of the app doing its thing soon. We’ve got a few issues that are in progress that I wanna make sure are included in anything I’m presenting so you all get a fuller picture of how things are working.

Although the Japanese app won’t be out for user testing for a few more weeks (assuming we stay on target) it’ll be good to start gathering a bit of feedback about the stuff we’re working on, and, hopefully, start building a little bit more hype!

-Jake


#133

Hey, would the Android update (3.0.20) have broken logins for some reason? I’m having trouble logging in. After hitting “Next” on the login screen spinner goes forever. This does not happen on iOS.


#134

Also having login issues on Android 3.0.20


#135

I am happily using the “old” Version. Everytime I see a new update for the beta version, I have a try, but everytime get disappointed. This time cannot even login on my android :frowning: so I go back to the “old” app again…


#136

Fixed the log in issue on Android Oreo by going to:

Settings - Apps - Skritter - Delete data/cache.

That basically resets the app as if you just had downloaded it for the first time.


#137

Since the update – in the Chinese app – when testing for tones, each single character prompts the audio for the spelling of said character. A compound word will be spelt after writing the last character of the word.
However:
Let’s say I study 图书馆. After writing 图 comes the spelling for tú, then 书 shū, then guăn followed by túshū guăn.
Since the next word is added faster than the audio, the pronunciation of the whole compound word is cut short. I understand, that for many beginners it is important to hear each single word, but I’m fairly advanced (I can watch TV shows without subtitles) and I’d rather hear the whole word.

Also, also: the app logs me out after a couple of minutes not using it.

I love your service, and I’ll stick with you through the bug squashing :slight_smile:


#138

I concur. For more advanced learners that already have “mastered” the tones, listening to each of the words characters is IMO unnecessary.

Kinda regretting updating the Beta as the prevous build was 95% okay for me and this feature is bugging me now. I guess it’s not possible to roll back a version?


#139

From the Japanese side, the new char issue seems fixed. Thank you - that was SUCH an annoying issue!!

I do have an issue that I can’t write the first character of 馘首. However, logging out and back in doesn’t fix it, so I’m assuming this simply isn’t in the skritter dB.


#140

If anyone is running into the issue with being logged in as a null account, you can follow @ferran’s advice!
(Settings - Apps - Skritter - Delete data/cache). Alternatively you can delete the app and reinstall it to fix the issue.

You can roll back! If you’re on Android you can visit the Play Store page for Skritter, and then scroll down to the bottom where there’s a button to leave or join the beta program.

It looks like your correct, this isn’t in the character database yet. Each time a character is studied without a writing, we get a notification, so we’ll be able to add this into the db once a new character editor is online!


#141

It seems to be a bug that the sound is coming after each word in a composition… most of the times the sound only comes once for all. I agree, it annoys a bit, when it does: 早 zăo 上 shang zăo shang.