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New iPad browser app makes reading Japanese websites easier

7 Comments

Browsing websites in Japanese just became easy for Apple iPad owners. Rikai Browser, a free web browser with a built-in Japanese-to-English dictionary accessible with a touch, is now available on the App Store.

Long Weekend LLC, developers of the study tool Japanese Flash, created Rikai Browser because there was no good way to read Japanese on the iPad if you didn’t read fluently. As fans of the popular Firefox plugin “Rikaichan”, the Rikai Browser was designed to bring that level of simplicity to reading Japanese on the iPad.

“When you’re reading a Japanese website, you tend to stop every time you encounter an unknown word or kanji - not very motivating or fun. Rikai Browser looks up Japanese words almost instantly, so you can just keep learning while you read,” said Mark Makdad, one of Long Weekend’s founders.

The application is a fully-functional web browser, complete with history, bookmarks, and navigation buttons. It also keeps a word history of searched words for later reference. It can be downloaded free at http://itunes.apple.com/app/rikai-browser-for-ipad-read/id380853144?mt=8.

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7 Comments
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Just downloaded and tried it. The Japanese lookup function is great. However, the dictionary is extremely basic and as such, will serve only the most basic of needs. For example, the following basic terms are not in the dictionary: 後回し、無関心、警察庁. More specialized terms such as 子宮筋腫、体外受精、高齢出産 are of course not covered at all.

All the above terms were picked up from just two very short articles. In conclusion, the existing dictionary is so lacking that it is almost useless.

Giving users the option to use external dictionaries that they already have, such as the excellent WISDOM English/Japanese dictionary, would be excellent.

Looking forward to upgrades in this area.

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hemplord,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm Mark, one of the developers. I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble.

The dictionary source is EDICT (Jim Breen's dictionary, WWWJDIC), which has approximately 150,000 words. It has 後回し、無関心、警察庁.

We noticed that there is a "bug" with the way Apple's browser selects text that causes the problem you're experiencing.

If you use the left marker (the blue ones) to select text, it will return no data!

However, if you tap on the start of the word and drag the marker to the right to select, the "Rikai" button should return the dictionary result.

Unfortunately, this issue is in Apple's code, not ours, but we are looking for a work-around (other than this mentioned above).

And, thanks for Awesomely trying out Rikai Browser! We want to make it awesome, so if you or anyone else finds any further issues, please feel free to tell us:

http://getsatisfaction.com/longweekend

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If anybody was wondering, EDICT also has 子宮筋腫、体外受精、and 高齢/出産. Any problem with this app will have nothing to do with the dictionary used.

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makdad, you are right. The dictionary does work using the described method. Also, it's good to know that the dictionary is quite a comprehensive one.

Two more issues I've noticed, which may be related. 1) I don't seem to be able to select words in headings, because the entire heading gets selected as a single paragraph. In Safari, such selection is possible, perhaps because Safari allows you to expand the page much more by pinching it out. 2) The displayed page moves somewhat haltingly when flicked. Again, this is unlike Safari, where a flick sends the page on a smooth glide.

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Will there be an iPhone port?

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Would you guys be interested into portin git to Android? I would like to help, and I'm a software developer myself and I really like the idea of rikaichan

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The758,

When we make one. The screen size is really an issue, and we're trying to figure out if it's worth it or not (is there demand for it??) Anyway, I've put the idea on our site, getsatisfaction.com/long_weekend - hopefully someone will vote for it.

ebisen,

Yeah, we don't want to stay solely Apple; we're not total Apple fanbois. That said, they have/had the best technology in the past few years for these sorts of apps. That's changing with a lot of the new HTC phones.

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