Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Android: Writing Japanese Characters (esp. Kanji)

Up until now I've not made much use of Nikolay Elenkov's Kanji Recognizer. I've had the general hunch that it was better than aedict's stock drawing recognition. However, since I primarily use the Japanese dictionary on the way to work, or otherwise wifi-less, I've not gotten much use out of Nikolay's WWWJDIC dictionary.

I'm not sure which recognition engine aedict uses, but Kanji Recognizer apparently uses the Zinnia engine with the Tomoe dataset, which is something that I've fiddled with in the past.

My hunch that Kanji Recognizer is superior has been kind of muted by the fact that with my old HTC Tattoo, changing applications was a bit tedious. Now I tend to use my Nexus 7 for translating (its so much faster!), which has a much quicker switch windows function, the idea of switching app every time I come across an annoying character doesn't put me off like it used to.

I thought I'd further test Kanji Recognizer by pitting it against aedict's drawing recognition. Using aedict as the benchmark (because I love that app), any character aedict failed to reproduce, I would attempt in Kanji Recognizer. Here is a list of some characters that Kanji Recognizer managed that aedict failed at*:

頸 腕 割 適 堅

OK, so that's not a particularly big list, which actually goes to show that aedict still fares pretty well, because I tested an awful lot of characters.

Now that I think about it, I also talked about an app called Hanwriting some time back. It was pretty awful for Japanese when I tried it, but it appears to have developed a lot since then. Now it is the hanwriting plugin integrated in the the multiling keyboard.

I tried all of the above characters without any trouble, and it even came up with some that neither aedict or Kanji Recognizer could manage*, such as 梟.

Since I've only just tried this, I'm not going to rave too much about how great that is, but it could be nice to have an IME like this that means I don't need to switch apps, and can stay in aedict for my dictionary needs, even when writing complicated characters. My first impression is good, but I also noticed that its significantly more difficult to draw characters in the smaller space they give you (though, of course, this is less of a problem now I'm using a Nexus 7).

Its nice to see such a broad range of support for Japanese getting well established on Android. I'm interested to see where it will all go from here!

*(or rather, I failed to input correctly into aedict that Kanji Recognizer identified regardless)

1 comment: