iOS TestFlight beta (3.0.2) feedback

Hello Skritter team;

I shared my feedback about the iOS app before via email; there hasn’t been much activity in beta since, so I thought I’d share it here as well in more detailed manner. My initial email feedback was very critical and I still very much agree with this opinion by Zyst: “it does feel like quite a severe quality impact from the previous application”. I know that you are trying to do your best, but honestly I have to say I don’t think this is going in the right direction.

To put it bluntly, in my opinion the 3.0.2 app UX level is disastrous, putting it years behind the current native iOS app (and decades behind modern iOS apps). It might sound rough and unfair, so I compiled a list of issues for you to see the scope of the problem. However, I’d like to state that this probably is not as much any particular issue (that would be easy to fix), but the entire approach (having a non-native app which is a total rewrite).

  1. UI is extremely unresponsive (and I am testing it on iPhone8!). There’s not even feedback on pressing a button, and there’s noticeable delay on any UI action (even on the trivial login screen). There are no transition animations. There’s no expected elasticity on scrollviews. In short it doesn’t feel like a working iOS UI at all.

  2. UI does not follow any reasonable platform good practice. On back button, you have to press the chevron and not the button label. Email field does not switch to email keyboard. Username field has incorrect capitalization. Opening keyboard covers UI. When closing keyboard UI breaks for a moment. You can’t slide keyboard. Standard gestures (e.g. slide back) do not work.

  3. On main screen of iOS app, there’s reference to Play Store. Asking user to rate the app right on startup is a very bad idea too.

  4. Scrollview on dashboard basically doesn’t work. It stop immediately when pulling the finger.

  5. UI in settings (checkboxes, comboboxes, toggles) is non-native, too small, difficult and puzzling to use. Scroll is broken too.

  6. Going into study, there’s “updating cache” message for 4-5 seconds.

  7. In study mode, there’s no sound or haptic feedback, no animations. The button to reveal mnemonic is way too small. Familiar gestures do not work. There’s unnecessary clutter in the UI.

It’s hard to put it in words, but the entire experience just doesn’t feel right. As a developer I’m very surprised that (on iOS, I don’t know what is current status of Android app) you are redeveloping the app in HTML instead of tweaking current native app, which is light years ahead of this beta in every aspect.

Hope this helps,


As a developer I’m very surprised that (on iOS, I don’t know what is current status of Android app) you are redeveloping the app in HTML instead of tweaking current native app, which is light years ahead of this beta in every aspect.

The reason is to unify the clients (web, android and ios). The Skritter team is pretty small so I assume they chose html simply because they don’t have the time/money/staff to maintain 2 native apps and a webclient. On android the new client has been in beta for over a year. In the beginning it was unusable for me, but they have come a long way since then and I’m no longer using the old app.
The performance is never going to reach that of a native app, but that’s just how it is. There are animations on the android app (and webclient), so I’d assume ios will get them too, if you don’t have them yet.
Rewriting of skritter to html has been going on for probably at least 2 years now, so I highly doubt that they can go back on that now.

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It’s hard to put it in words, but the entire experience just doesn’t feel right.

Constructive criticism is always good, and I agree with you on the UX points.

With due respect to the devs, the beta app looks and feels very unpolished. And it seems like it’s going to need a whole lot of improvements for it to be on par with the modern, popular apps that users are used to these days.

The concept of Skritter is brilliant, and I hope to see the execution of this product done right. As a beta tester, I wish there is some way the team can do something about team size / development pace, and get themselves upgraded on the latest iOS development + UI/UX implementation.

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Hey, thanks for the constructive feedback (really, a good thread like this keeps us all grounded :slight_smile: ). It’s not an excuse, but as others have mentioned, we are a small engineering team trying to maintain and further develop two backends and five different clients, in addition to other normal business-y tasks like supporting customers. This makes focusing our efforts on any one thing difficult. Our hope is to eventually consolidate and deprecate the older clients so we can maintain fewer codebases, not worry about backwards compatibility with legacy systems, gain more development velocity, and focus our efforts on new features. Additionally we want to present users with a more consistent experience and feature set regardless of how they use Skritter. But gaining that stability and rich feature set takes time, especially when measured against production apps, hence the “beta.”

The reason for the lack of a recent update is because of some major architectural changes we are implementing for the mobile beta apps which aim to improve many of the underlying issues you mentioned. Stay tuned!

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I do agree with the UI issues like the scrolling and things not feeling right, although I couldn’t figure out why. If we get some new features like a landscape view and some interesting stats then I can get on board. So far the changes might benefit the development team but they don’t do much for the paying customers.

I agree.
Tested 2.0 version and wrote things by e-mail, but the new version caused me just turn back to the old one. The new font instead of classic one really turned me off.

I add here my full comment about the 2/0 version as well.

So far I use Beta version for couple of weeks.
There are some things I like about the app. I like the new stats page, new look of the charts. Though there is no year stats and I love to see my progress in a year perspective.
The overall design is serious and clear, but I miss the paper feeling, I really loved in the previous version. I also loved the option to choose the dark theme. Maybe you can give the option to choose at least that paper like look?
I love the option to choose hide pronunciation/meaning.
I love that new settings page and the settings button from the study mode, very helpful.
I love the mute button. But, when I mute my iPhone, the app is not muted automatically if before I set it on. Which can be confusing a bit.
I love the new info page for the words, but I really miss the connection to PLECO. Also there is no copy option and I love to look on the new words in Pleco.
The study mode - I really love that in the new version I can see the time, I mean the real time.
I don’t like that the sentence does not appear automatically after I completed the word writing.
I don’t like that I don’t see that the writing is red, until I finish. In the previous version it shows on line when it turns to be yellow and red.
I loved all the encouraging expressions when you study 5//20 minutes etc.
There is no option to go back to the previous word if I want to check or look up something.
Sometimes I press the arrow for the next word and it jumps to the next after next, it’s not as clear as in the previous version. In general the navigation is not smooth and easy.
When I try to put photo from the library in my profile picture the app crashes.
In the custom word list the option to add the new words is a bit complicated.
the character in definition/pronunciation is way too small.
in the word list the studied words are not marked with the green light, like in the old version.

So far I prefer to use the old one.

@proxi, agreed. Over email, I gave the same feedback for v3.0.2. Does the v3.0.3 version make significant improvements? I’d prefer not to go back and forth until at least a lot of these are resolved.

Agreed with everything said here. If I was the product owner I would cut my losses, toss out the idea of using HTML and start again. I don’t think the responsive/performance issues can be fixed and I don’t think Skritter is suitable to be a non-native app.

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I agree with the original post. I don’t know how to put it any less bluntly either.

You need to cut your losses on the HTML project and go back to native apps. I can’t really state this strongly enough. Native apps are the only way forward, only native apps “feel right”. The HTML app “feels” awful! It’s all the little things the original post tried to put into words. The responsiveness, the design language, the buttons, button feedback, scrolling feedback, speed, fonts, everything. Currently the betas get this all wrong and as stated, are far behind the original app.

I’m sorry this is harsh, but it’s coming from a love for Skritter, it’s my indispensable app for learning Chinese characters. It’s saved me so much time and effort and made learning characters fun, so for me it needs to survive and continue, and the current HTML apps I feel have the potential to kill Skritter. PLEASE abandon them!

I think you only really need to be targeting two development environments: iOS and Android, with the web to manage lists, make custom lists, view stats etc., I’d guess that’d cover what 99% of people are looking for.

The web 1.0 version does everything I need already with regard to managing lists, making custom lists, viewing stats etc, it doesn’t need updated in my opinion.

I’m using iOS, the original apps are already excellent, just in need of little improvements here and there, mostly related to using on the iPad, e.g.

  • landscape on iPad
  • split screen support on iPad
  • more use of the display on iPad, e.g. to show the information behind the “i” button

Also, I can’t understand the impression that your resources are very limited, surely the monthly fees from thousands of users is enough to hire sufficient engineering talent? And learning Mandarin becoming more and more popular? I really hope the Skritter owners are not trying to extract maximum short-term profit, at the expense of investing in sufficient engineering resources for the long term.

I have already recommended Skritter to a number of friends also learning Chinese. It has been extremely useful to me so far and hope it can continue to be until I get to where I want to be with learning Mandarin.

Thank you for taking these thoughts on board.


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I quite like the new beta app on my iphone but still prefer the old app on my ipad. problem with the new beta app is the offline mode doesn’t work at all for me. Not sure this is just a glitch (the team tried to reload stuff for me, but it didnt help), so I deleted the beta from ipad so I can use it whenever I am on the road.

I have been using the Beta app on and off and each time I keep going back to the original ios app, both on ipad and iphone.

I agree with the feedback above. The iOS app feels like a significant step back. In addition to what has been mentioned above, the drawing just doesn’t flow. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but in the original version it feels as if you are writing on paper and the lines are flowing into the perfect sample form underneath your fingers. Over time you learn to trace the signs better and better.
In the new app they sort of snap into shape in a way that feels clunky and half baked. This significantly degrades the user experience, so much so that I keep uninstalling the test version and going back to the original.

I really really hope you guys desist from the idea of going with an HTML app for iOS. I say this as a huge fan and committed user. I’ve been a paying customer since May 2009 (I just looked up my welcome email from when I signed up) and have recommended Skritter to a bunch of people. I often cite it as an example of a product that does exactly what it should and does it extremely well and elegantly.
I can see the reasons for wanting to consolidate disparate code bases, but it feels like in this case the baby is being tossed out with the bathwater.

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Dear Skitter team,

I very briefly used the Skritter iOS beta during 2 days.
Honestly it is not the same feeling as the original app, there’s many thing that I like a few things that I don’t.
The main problem is that the few things that I don’t like are just killing the experience wich make the overall experience very difficult to continue (See B) 1. point below)
I think that if you correct these few things, you are very close to equal the quality of the original app. As if you claim, the new version can be enriched with additional features, then you should be able to surpass the original app.

A) What I like

  1. The new design is cool, it looks more modern, more “flat design”, more pure in some way.
  2. The app is (finally) optimized for iPhone PLUS bigger screens.
  3. I had the impression that the writing was more accurate, in some way less forgiving allowing to learn in a better way the writing: If you don’t hook your stoke, the app won’t make the stroke appear and give you the usual reminder “Should be hooked”, or if you do your stroke backward, the app won’t make the stroke appear with the “backwards” reminder, YOU have to remember everything, because the app is less forgiving so in some way I think it is better
  4. The stroke writing is better, it is difficult to express how and why with words (Sorry english is not my mother tongue). I like the way the stokes pop-up on the canvas after inputing it with a stylus or finger.
  5. Thanks for the teaching mode, guys it’s super useful for the first time you encounter a new hanzi !
  6. The new menus look better (options, list, etc…) but I think you should use native tools provided by iOS SDK because it is strange to be in front of menus that don’t look like anything else in an iPhone.
  7. Personally, I prefer to add words manually and I really like being allowed to add 1, 5, 10 or 20 words, instead of smashing the “+” button. This is a good feature.
  8. The app works in China without using VPN. It’s good but it was already the case with the original app.

B) What I don’t like

  1. Let’s start with the most important, the SRS is drunk with this beta ! This is the main reason why I can’t continue to test the app because I am unable to study, so I am sorry but I will go back to the original app to go on with my study.
    I mean the SRS doesn’t work well, I end up studying the same 15 words during 45 min, no jokes. Every time after 5 min study, the app is loading to pick-up some new words I guess but even though, I was ending up with the same 15 words.
    Good thing is that now I know perfectly these 15 words, they are deeply rooted in my memory. So I don’t know if this is made on purpose to memorize better, but honestly, it’s really heavy and not fun at all, it looks like a dystopian brain washing system where you need to repeat always the same thing (like this Blade Runner 2049 baseline test :tired_face:).
  2. The design is modern but too white, there’s no clear boundaries between what can be clicked, where we can write etc… So the new design looks cool but it is not really practical.
  3. There is no more little encouragement pop-ups like “5 min study”, “10 min study” etc… This was really cool and gave a friendly aspect to the app. More general feeling: the app seems less friendly. I think it is an important thing to keep Skitter as a learning companion and not just a learning tool.
  4. In a similar way, there’s not as much sound in the beta app as the original app. I miss the stroke sound “whoosh” overtime you write on the canvas, I miss the sound of the grading system, I miss the sound of the clickable buttons etc… This also add to the impression of a less friendly app. It seems more “cold” (almost more “sad”) especially when you spend a lot of time in front of this app that doesn’t make a sound except from the pronunciation of the words.
  5. The font used in the app is not really easy to read, the choice of color is not optimal. Some translations are written light grey on white which seems to be nothing but after 40 or 45 min of practice it become difficult to read with such little contrast between the font and the background.
    Moreover, I think you should use a different font for everything written with latin alphabet (translation, pinyin etc…)
  6. The font used for the Chinese hanzi is very disturbing as it is a different font used for the “writing on canvas” part. It looks like the font used to read the hanzi or input the tone, is more like a sans-serif font more computer-like, and the writing font is more hand-writing-like. In some way it can be good to be used to different ways or reading the same hanzi but… I can’t put words on my overall feeling, it just seems strange. This is more personal feeling, maybe other users prefer this.
    You should add a setting to allow user to chose the font on the Chinese hanzi.
  7. There are too many loading time in the app, basically, every time I click on something, the app needs to load. This is really annoying.
  8. The dark theme is missing. I don’t really care about this as I don’t use it but I know some other user really appreciate this. I think it can be good also for people having OLED screens as apparently it helps to save battery. Moreover, I think it is more relaxing for the eyes of the user to have a dark interface instead of a white flashy screen.
  9. The “connection” with PLECO is lost. I don’t understand why.

C) For the future
From what I understand, in the latest development news the Skritter team explained that the mobile project is now separated from the Web project.
I think it is a good thing, developing a native app for the iPhone is in my opinion, the only way to get an rock solid app with all the feature that today’s very powerful devices can offer.

  1. Please add some arrow clickable buttons allowing to go to the previous word or the next word. Today these buttons are on the canvas and when I try to click on these buttons, sometimes the app take this as a stoke instead of a click on the arrow to check the previous word.
  2. Regarding the loading time in the app, if those are still necessary, please add a % progression counter, it’s less frustrating to wait for a loading when you can see the percentage of loading growing instead of a little wheel turning around without any indication of progress.
  3. I know you are working on adding more pronunciation sound, this is good and I hope the sound can be directly downloaded from the internet instead of being included in the app, it will allow to get much more ressources.
  4. I know you are working on adding more “level-coherent” mnemonics, (for exemple: using only vocab from HSK1 for words in HSK1 lists etc…) I think this is awesome.

So I hope this can be useful to you guys.
Again I feel really sorry not being able to use the beta app anymore but I cannot afford to loose time by reviewing the same words over an over again.
If you patch this, I’ll be glad to give it another try.

Thanks for developing this amazing tool, you allowed me to learn Chinese.


Thanks for the fantastic write up. Can’t wait to hear what you and everyone providing feedback thinks about the next version. We promise to lay off the dystopian study loops, although, like you said, it sure hammers those few characters/words home :slight_smile:

Also, there is a high probability that the next version of the beta will be a separate app ID in the store. We might not make that switch with the next version, but we are planning on splitting things in the future so you all can keep studying (and testing). We wanna get beta feedback, but we understand that uninstalling and installing is a huge, no GIANT, pain-- especially if you have an account with a decent number or items in it. Who has 15 minutes to wait for an account to sync, that time could be spent studying!

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Happy to report that the next version of the beta will have offline mode by default. Initial log in will require a sync, but after that you can study without internet and sync later. Finally!

Also, @josh got landscape mode working for the new version, and it is slick! I’ve been testing on 12.9" iPad Pro and it is feeling darn good.

I just wanna take a moment to thank everyone who has been adding their thoughts to this thread. Many of the issues you have all been raising are being addressed with the next beta version and we will continue to address them until we get it right. We are literally building much of the beta again from scratch. I will be working on a more official post that’ll be on the forum later this month, but I wanted to toss out a quick bullet list of things that have been addressed or are the highest priority before the next update.

  • Performance-- input lag when writing has been killed. Testing on iOS 6s+, iPhone X, and iPad Pro and they all feel much, much better.
  • Offline mode enabled. We sync your data in the beginning now, so you can study anywhere. Also, sync times are sub five minutes for even the largest accounts we’ve tested.
  • App navigation-- it works like a mobile app should. No more sidebar navigation unless you want to use it, or need to jump to a different section of the app fast.
  • Slide outs-- Fast, and with some click feedback for the buttons, and you can slide them back in (no more clicking the tiny “x”)
  • List management-- Add sections, delete sections, make new lists, add new vocab. We’re still adding some extra stuff to list management area, but I think the next beta update will be a huge step in the right direction.
  • Landscape mode-- beta will support it!

There is a lot more in the new app, but I’ll save the rest for the official post. Stay tuned. And thank you again for all the feedback. We appreciate your patience while we’re working on this update. It’s going to be a big one!



Hello Skritter;

do you have any official timeline regarding the release of the 3.x app for iOS? Will it replace current native 2.x app? My subscription is finishing soon and I’d love to keep using 2.x Skritter which is a great tool, but I’m afraid that 3.x release will kill this great product. Latest 3004 beta experience is still nowhere near the experience of the 2.x app, suffering from all the issues listed in this thread months ago. I’d be happy to keep using 2.x app, even without updates.

I don’t have an official date for release, but Josh and I both think the next beta will be out before the end of the month. Our release plans are as follows:

  • Replace existing Android beta (2.3.5) with the new Skritter Mobile app
  • Keep Skritter iOS as is for Chinese and Japanese, and release a new app on iOS along with TestFlight invites for everyone currently enrolled on the current iOS beta.

Whatever beta you’re testing on right now is 100% different from the app we’re building and testing internally at the moment. I will be posting additional updates before release about the new mobile app, and what features it’ll have out of the gate. In the meantime, check out some of the pictures I shared in this thread, here.

Regarding your subscription. I firmly believe that this new release will be the best mobile experience to date, especially once it is out of beta. Obviously, we would love it if you keep your subscription going. If you do decide to subscribe and you aren’t satisfied you can DM me and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

Hope that helps answer your questions!


Thank you Jake, really looking forward to new beta. I am very skeptical of the non-native approach, but maybe this time it plays out well. Will provide feedback on new beta when it’s available.

I don’t pretend to understand all the technical implications of going one way or the other with regards to native/non-native codebase, but this version is feeling much more performant than the previous version (and offers offline support by default), which is the reason we ended up green-lighting the rebuild.

Looking forward to the feedback!

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