Auto Advance Explained (with updates for 3.0.8!)

We’re getting some feedback about auto advance, and while we’re opening to making changes I want to make sure that everyone understands how the behavior is currently built first. Here is how auto advance works in the current beta.

Writing Cards and Tone Cards

  • Auto advance triggers when the final stroke has been submitted, giving you 1.5 seconds (default) to tap the canvas or submit a new grade, which will pause the advance.

  • If you tapped on the canvas to pause, the next tap (ex. a different grade) will automatically move you to the next card.

  • The grade is applied automatically based on correctness of strokes and the tone marks. If single-tap (stroke hint), one finger tap-hold (character hint), two finger tap-hold (stroke order) have been triggered on writing prompts it will be graded as wrong.

Pinyin, Definition, Kana

  • Tap to reveal is the checkpoint for correctness. We assume that you are reviewing things before you forget them and, thus, they’re graded as “got it” unless you state otherwise.

  • Pausing the prompt can be done by either tapping anywhere on the screen that isn’t already a button, or by tapping the grade.

  • The next prompt is triggered by tapping the screen

Video walkthrough
I made a short YouTube video showing everything on the screen and talking about our current position on the feature. It’s about five minutes long. Enjoy!

A Note about Auto Advance
Auto Advance for Skritter Mobile was designed in such a way as to not disrupt the normal flow of moving from one card to the next unless totally necessary. Skritter is currently designed as a review tool, not a teaching tool, and as such we assume that you’re not really seeing cards for the first time in-app. We understand that this isn’t the case always, and are taking active steps to improve this in the app, but as of right now, Skritter is still acting as a review tool for daily studies.

Question to users
How would you like to see auto advance work. We are happy to make changes, and we will be using this thread as a way to generate discussion.

What we want to avoid is making lots of small changes, but rather collect data, generate discussion, and then come up with a single proposed fix that we work on deploying for the apps.

Thanks in advance and happy studying!



Quick update: I just noticed that “tap to advance” text is being displayed when auto-advance is already on, which is shouldn’t be doing. We have an issue open to fix that up.

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Thank you Jake for making the awesome video and post on auto-advance, and for openly asking for discussion and feedback. Very cool.

The good news is that my understanding of auto-advance in the beta matched what you have explained.

Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of the current setup:


  • Consistency: there is consistency in always auto-advancing after seeing the answer / answering the prompt
  • Flow: as stated in the video, if you do nothing, it keeps moving forward. I’m not used to the current behavior, but I understand intellectually how that could feel right. I found the current iOS behavior to be extremely fast and flow-inducing, so the good news is that there are multiple ways of achieving this.


  • Inconsistency: currently, after choosing a grade, the app always advances to the next card (regardless of whether auto-advance is on or not) unless auto-advance happens to have not completed yet. If auto-advance is ticking down, however, tapping the grade keeps you on the card. Tapping it again advances. I find this confusing, and I also find it to be the opposite of what I want — entering a grade to me means I am done with the card and want to move on. It always works this way in the app, except in this one case.
  • Auto-grading self-graded prompts: let me explain why I believe this is a con. I believe that, using Olle’s words from, by default we tend to have “an almost subconscious process that biases your self-grading in a positive direction”. By needing to choose your grade, we’ll be more likely to give ourselves an honest grade. I also agree with “you should assess your answers as accurately as you can. This is individual to a certain degree and requires a bit of practice.” (

Contributing issues

  • At least to me and on my device, the auto-advance indicator is so subtle I don’t really notice it while studying, partially because it is thin and partially because it is away from the answer and grading buttons. This causes me to be unaware of the current state of auto-advance and not realize, for example, that a tap on an answer button just canceled it.

Here’s a potential proposal that could reconcile these two approaches:

  1. Leave the auto-advance as-is, but introduce a feature to auto-grade self-graded prompts, if we feel that is important to support. I’d turn it off by default, but that can be discussed. If auto-grading is off, then auto-advance happens after you grade self-graded prompts, otherwise it behaves as it does now.
  2. Always advance after hitting a grade, even if auto-advance is counting down. Tap elsewhere to clear the auto-advance timer.
  3. Change the auto-advance indicator to be more visible and be in the vicinity of the stuff you are looking at on-screen. I don’t have an awesome concrete proposal, but to throw one out, have it be a background progress bar behind the answer buttons. That would be highly visible and also near where you are looking.

Lastly, apologies for suggesting to add another setting — I know how costly adding settings is. Alternatively just leave out auto-grading for now and consider adding it as a feature if needed.

Bonus thought experiment: when advancing after hitting a grade, the current iOS app uses the auto-advance timer rather than immediately changing cards. Right now in the beta, tapping a grade switches to the next card too quickly for me, at least compared to what I am used to. Of course in the current iOS app, tapping a grade does not advance at all if you aren’t using auto-advance, so the experiences aren’t quite comparable. At any rate, I’d probably make the other changes above first and then re-evaluate this. Simply adding an animated transition to the next card (and sound if sounds are enabled) may resolve any concern here.

I’m sure I’ve missed something here, so I’d love feedback on what doesn’t make sense or breaks other workflows.


I also did not notice the light blue bar that indicates the auto advance timer. A big part of it for me is that on an iPad in landscape mode, the timer only goes halfway across the screen for some prompts and all the way across the screen for others. I never saw it until I set the timer to 3 seconds, and then it was on the screen long enough to catch my attention. I feel better if it consistently went across the whole screen top.

HOWEVER, even when I saw it, I thought it was the same as the blue “sync” bar that comes up several times when the app is launched. It looked similar enough that within a few uses of Skritter, you trained me to ignore any blue moving bar at the top of the screen.

I miss the timer audio that the previous Skritter had. When I’m looking at the bottom of a large iPad screen, reflecting on the grade I want to give myself, a small, light, narrow line at the top of the screen is outside of my visual focus. The sound draws my attention even if my eyes aren’t looking at the bar.

I agree with @rpetersn on the “Bonus thought Experiment”. I would like the auto advance timer to begin WHEN I FIRST grade myself. I frequently give a “reaction” grade & then reconsider and want to change it. If the timer starts when I first grade myself, I can tap the screen to stop the timer, or let it auto advance, but I still have time to change the grade.

Alternatively, if I am pressing ANY grading button holding down on that lower area, Skritter could just hold/pause the timer and then continue countdown when I release. This is similar to the feel of how the “swipe to grade” on the earlier iOS app felt it was working.

EDIT: “Flow” is good, but I want to be able to pause the flow with minimal interaction.

I strongly disagree with “default to got it” approach. Unless you make a conscious effort to grade yourself, it’s very easy to just ignore the mistake. Cards that cannot be reasonably auto-graded, such as pinyin, should only auto-advance after user gives a grade.

I also want to add another comment - while it is hard to describe precisely, I think that big part of the problem with the flow in the beta is the little things in the UX/design. The entire design of the beta is very basic, looks like something made by a programmer. Compare for example colored, animated grading options of the native iOS app with current brute text. Also the lack of audio or tactile feedback, animation, gestures.

Thanks for all the comments so far. I’m going to come up with a list of proposed changes and discuss with the team on Monday and then I’ll post them here for further discussion.

Appreciate all the feedback and thoughtful comments!

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Back with an update for those who are contributing to the discussion on Auto Advance and following along in this thread. We’ve had a discussion as a team and we are proposing to do the following with auto advance in the app.

  • Different auto-advance time (review times) based on the grade (using 1.5 second advance as default here)
  1. 2.5 seconds for forgot
  2. 2 seconds for so-so
  3. 1.5 seconds for good
  4. .5 seconds for easy
  • Top bar indicator will be made more clear (increased opacity, and grading color variation)

  • On writing and tone prompts the first screen tap (on non-button areas) will pause auto advance and the top bar timer will fade away.

On tone prompts you will have the ability to tap the screen again and skip ahead to the next card (with current grade selected), or to enter a new grade without feeling rushed on time. This sure ensure that accidental taps can be resolved quickly or change grade with ease.

On writing prompts with auto-advance paused, you will be able to erase and start the character over (with current grade still in memory), or give the character a new grade. Any grading tap wil “reset” the auto advance timer (review time) based on the grade given. The second tap to non-button areas of the screen will skip to the next card in the queue without the auto-advance time delay.

  • Auto advance will only trigger on reading (pinyin, zhuyin, kana) and definition prompts once you have selected a grade (“got it”) will still be selected by default, but all grades will trigger the auto-advance.

  • On definition and reading prompts tapping non-button areas of the screen skips automatically to the next card with “got it” grade submitted

These proposed changes are based on my review of all our apps, your feedback, and our team discussion. We’ll be doing some internal testing with the changes before we deploy anything, so please let me know your thoughts on the updates below and stay tuned for an improved auto advance experience.



Update: doing some final testing today before start rolling things out. This version of auto advance is feeling much improved. The only thing we changed from my notes above is that after auto advance triggers for reading and definition prompts you can tap on the screen to pause it again, and then tap once more to continue. It feels good this way, and also keeps the tap to pause behavior identical on all prompt types.

The review time on things marked “so-so” (for the record, I’m on team “forgot” over “so-so” all day long) or or “forgot” feels really good and helps to focus you in for when it appears again. And, if you need more time… just tap the screen to pause the advance and talk all the time you need!

We hope you all enjoy the update when it drops (sorry it is taking some time!) and keep the feedback coming!

P.S. Pretty sure this update fixed the issue where the canvas wouldn’t allow strokes. Need to keep an eye out for it as I continue my testing.

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I’ll get another quick video out later along with some cleaned up notes that we can add into our official release thread :slight_smile:

Getting late here and I just got some time to do testing on the latest. Video likely won’t come till tomorrow, but it should be out with notes in time for deployment or shortly there after.

Looking forward to feedback on the changes. Hope you all like it as much as I do!

Jake, awesome writeup, thank you for sharing! Apologies that I didn’t get a chance to share feedback before now (although I did read it).

I hadn’t thought of this. I am interested in trying it out. I do stop and take action if I don’t get something right, so this should probably work for me. Question: how does one get an Easy grade from auto-grading? Or do you just mean after self-grading?

Happy to see how this works out. I know it is easier than moving it to the bottom, but it does seem like it will be a lot easier to be aware of if it were next to the grades or the answers.

Awesome. Minor feedback here – the tap area for pausing and advancing should probably be (1) the same for those two actions, (2) not be active in the bottom grading button area NOR the top back button etc area, and (3) consistent (where reasonable) for all cards (right now I believe you can’t tap outside the writing area to pause for writing and tone cards).

happy dance

The rest all sounds awesome. Eager to try it out.

I’m so used to tapping where I tap to do stuff that I probably didn’t spend enough time figuring out exactly where taps should and should not happen on all card types. Good call. We will look into this for future updates. Shouldn’t be too hard. And, as you said, consistency is a good thing :slight_smile:

Cool. One tap that causes problems for me is when I tap the back button area to go back several times, the back button disappears because you can’t go back more, and the tap causes you to go forward again.

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Finally got time to record a video of how Auto Advance is working in 3.0.8

And I found a bug in the process. Joy!

Quick notes:

  • Review times are now scaled based on grade. The times are:
  1. Forgot: 2.5 seconds
  2. So-So: 2 seconds
  3. Got it: 1.5 seconds
  4. Too easy: .5 seconds
  • Auto advance will fire on tone and writing prompts automatically because we can give you a grade
  • The first tap on the screen for all card types will pause auto advance if already triggered. On tone and writing prompts you must tap on the canvas area for now. (Note: there is a bug on pinyin prompts that I totally missed… and the tap does not pause the grading, instead it skips it. We will fix asap).
  • The second tap will skip to next prompt and submit the grade that is selected
  • Definition and Reading cards do not auto advance until a grade is submitted. Once the grade is selected auto advance will trigger and the normal behaviors will apply. After tap to reveal, a tap on the screen will simply the grade “got it” and move on.
  • Any grade tap will reset auto advance progress to give you the proper amount of review time. You can just keep going, and going, and going, and going…

Sorry again about the bug, but overall I really hope you all enjoy the auto advance updates!

Has this 3.0.8 update made writing become extremely laggy for anyone else? (edit: just noticed someone did actually make a topic about this). I already submitted feedback in the app about it, but it’s really bad. I’m on an iPad Air 2 and have the latest version of iOS. Is this to be expected? Also wondering where the ability to skip to the next character/word is? It took me a while to realize I had to hold to get the whole character to appear, but I still haven’t found how to skip forward.

I also read that the removal of the swipe up to reset the canvas would end up saving us time? I’m not sure how it saves me time, but does this mean there will no longer be any way to reset the canvas?

I will have to look into the performance issues being reported, but swipe up to erase should not have been removed and is not planned to ever be removed. Is that feature not working for you? I am still able to use it on my device, though I don’t have access to an iPad Air 2 for testing.

Sorry it seems like I misread what was happening with the swipe up feature. I didn’t know it was a button before. Now I know it’s actually implemented I tried various ways of doing the swipe up and found a way to get it to work. It seems like the swipe needs to be more deliberate now, whereas I was used to just flicking my finger before. I still can’t do it consistently, takes a few attempts almost every time.

Josh had to rebuild the feature during 3.0.8 and it appears that a little tuning is in order after the big changes. We’ll work on adjusting things a bit and you should see behavior much improved in 3.0.9.

So, In jumping back and forth between old-iOS Skritter and 3.0.8 due to the writing lag, it really made me want to ask:
What is the use case in the old app’s auto-advance that you are fixing?

The old auto-advance feels pretty intuitive, quick, and works well when grading. Sometimes I had to go back because it advanced too fast.

I’m not able to get new Skritter to feel “flowy”, so what makes the new one better?