At last! This is some of the best news I’ve heard in ages. iPhone 4’s with 3g and WiFi will now be freely allowed for sale in China in the Apple retail stores and from China Unicom. Until recently, only models with WiFi disabled were available on the mainland, driving people to purchase uncrippled models from Hong Kong and overseas.
From a few anecdotal conversations I’ve had with Chinese friends, there was previously stigma attached to purchasing the locally available crippled iPhone models from China Unicom. If a full version is now available, I’d expect increased sales, which further distributes the platform creating further opportunities for application developers.
I’ve tried a whole bunch of iPhone flash card applications to help me with my Chinese studies and the vast majority suck. Badly. I’ve even shelled out real cash for some of these. I just wish there was a refund button in the App Store. So believing I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to suffer un-usable software, I’m getting some good software developed.
Version one is going to have an absolute basic set of features, but day 1 it will be:
- Easy to use
- Look good
- Support flash card revision and testing for the New Practical Chinese Reader series of books (Beijing University Press).
Now some observant people may that I speak to in the real world may notice that I’ve been talking about this software for a while. Well, we’re getting there. I’m re-realising that trying to do things on the cheap is the tortoise path to success and its going to take longer than I’d hope. To hopefully pick up the pace, I just ordered these from Amazon:
But the unseen forces are conspiring against me again, and I won’t receive delivery until mid August. Oh well, I guess its back to googling tutorials.
One of the reasons I setup this blog was to diarise the journey for this new business I’m starting – to create absolutely the intuitive, most effective and down right funnest language learning application ever devised – for iPhone.
After taking Chinese lessons twice per week at 2 hours per pop at RMIT University for the last 12 months, I realised a few things about how I learn:
- I only apply myself to learning the language while at class. Forget studying at home.
- I have a Chinese wife so you think I would ask her for a lot of help. I don’t. For some crazy reason, I want to learn on my own. Some people might call it stubbornness (others stupidity).
- I like using Chinese flash cards, but there are no commercially available flash card sets for the text book I’m learning from (New Practical Chinese Reader). I’m not assessed on the other superfluous characters I know – I’m tested on what is in the chapters covered in class.
- I have only once dedicated myself to creating a series of my own crappy Chinese flash cards. My learning did greatly improve. I am too lazy to do it again.
- I get frustrated trying to use crappy software.
- I get frustrated trying to use crappy software that’s trying to teach me characters not in the chapters of the book I’m studying.
This first-hand experience and my own inner turmoil between laziness and motivated learning provide the drive to get this app happening. And classes have started again and I already know I’m going to fall behind!
I know I can’t (hopefully) be the only person struggling through Chinese studies, so to help my fellow laowai/guilou brethren in our struggle to learn, I’ve started the first steps to create this remarkable software. So what have you done so far Age, I hear you ask. Well, I’ve:
- Written a functional specification in google docs outlining how I want this to work
- Hired Sam Sui, a Chinese student / gun programmer studying here in Melbourne at Swinburne university to do the development work.
- Arranged payment through barter of brand spanking new 2.4 Ghz macbook. Apple are so clever you can’t write apps for the iPhone unless you do it on a macbook. Very cunning.
I’m meeting Sam tonight to start working out time-frames, prioritising requirements and setting some goals.
The next steps are to:
- Finalise the business plan (Anyone want to help with market research ?)
- Look into state, federal and city level grants available here in Aus to fund future development work
- And I’m thinking of enrolling the RMIT Business Plan competition (again). My win last time funded a trip to China and was the catalyst for new business. Who know what this time might bring? At a minimum I’ll get some good feedback.
Now I know many of you, struggling through Chinese classes across this fine world will want to contribute. If you want to add your 2c to the requirements, feel free to contact me on www.twitter.com/adrianbole or ab[at]bole[dot]com[dot]au.