Skritter Mobile Beta 3.4.0 feedback (latest beta--300380)

Just checked out the new info screen in the new beta. Have to say it defeats the purpose.

For me the best of the old beta info screen was that one could quickly pop it up and out when wanting to look up a missing piece of Information. The best of the legacy info screen is the ability to check in detail for character and radical definitions, albeit on a separate screen.

So what I was really hoping for in the beta is best of both worlds: a side slide-in info screen as previously but with easily reachable and augmented information inside. Single clicks for popping up information.

But now we got an info screen on a separate page which has…subpages. It takes forever to navigate for a certain piece of information.

And on the subpages there is information which could be integrated much more easily. A separate page just showing the single characters with their meaning and an audio icon? Why? You could just make the single characters clickable in the main info screen.

Also there are design flaws such as the info screen open button being on the top right but the info screen close X button on the top left. How to quickly open and close with a tap? Need to use different fingers now or shift phone in the hand.

I would really hope the best of new and legacy design will be combined here, and not the worst.

Please also keep the legacy app in the App Store as so far it is still my preferred way to use Skritter.

EDIT: I found that you can actually click the single characters on the subpage for more radical information. That’s nice, but I still think that it is way to convoluted. Why not clicking the characters in the main review screen directly? My hope would be to be get my information faster within Skritter than by clicking the Pleco button.

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Thanks for the feedback! I would like to note that the following is not available on the legacy app info area:

  1. Mnemonics
  2. Example sentence
  3. Audio
  4. Ability to edit anything
  5. Detailed stats about the entire word/ character

We’re trying to provide a lot more utility on these screens, and we can’t assume that everyone has Pleco with all the extra add-ons.
Also, getting to the same level of detail on Pleco for a word is five taps (not including the tap to open Pleco), and the data doesn’t really provide any guidance about how useful it is. It’s pretty raw when you get into components.

Making things “tap to discover” is cool, but you can get into some crazy inception states really quick, and it doesn’t allow you a more global picture if you’re trying to make changes to a definition or update a mnemonic to be more useful.

I should note that we have some more plans for the info area in the future. We’d like to include more info about high-frequency words that characters are contained in, and an area for “teaching notes” that we populate with useful info (which you can also edit). Also, the ability to create your own custom example sentences.

The way we’ve built the screen at the moment is less about speed, and more about giving you the best chance to go into the necessary details to make things stick long-term.

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What info are you trying to quickly look up?
Just in case it isn’t clear, mnemonics and example sentences are now on the study cards for quick access (tap above the break line), and components of characters are still on the same screen as before. The tap to close is not a quick as previous builds, but again, we’re going for more details and trying to keep them organized.

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I’m glad you mentioned about “tap above the break line”; that’s quite an Easter egg! (pardon the sarcasm) Even after reading what you wrote it took me a while to figure out which break line you were referring too. I like that we have a nice fat target to click on to see example sentences and mnemonics. Seems a little redundant with the info button in the upper right hand corner though, in terms of content, but the info button’s content is in a much bigger font, which gets a huge thumbs up from me. I have to agree that it just seems weird to have the open info button on the right and close info on the left. Normally I would just hold my pen over the same spot and close the info screen after reading it. Overall though I think this latest beta makes some big improvements, as did the previous one. Large fonts and audio sample sentences (e.g. in HSK decks), are huge pluses for me.

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Generally, I have to agree with you. In particular, I would like to stress one issue. Due to the fact that the screens of many phones have become taller, it is not the best way to put certain toggles at the top. Hence, it becomes pretty inconvenient to use the toggles as I have to use multiple fingers. This is also why many popular apps nowadays move toggles from the top to the bottom in order to meet the new circumstances. I would appreciate if you can think about a way to move all toggles from the top to the bottom to increase the user experience. Furthermore, I totally agree with this “(…) info screen open button being on the top right but the info screen close X button on the top left. How to quickly open and close with a tap? Need to use different fingers now or shift phone in the hand.”

Would appreciate a feedback on this

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I also prefer the info drawer to the info screen. The drawer was compact, elegant, and didn’t distract me from my study. The full-screen version is as disruptive as opening Pleco. (And the use of animated transitions on the info screen – making me wait after I click – actually make it more so.)

I noticed the “above the break” pop-up in the previous release, which was mildly annoying because my taps to reveal hidden reading/definitions frequently trigger it instead. It is now very annoying because it shows me some canned mnemonic, and I really don’t want to be accidentally popping up that stuff. Personally, I’d be happy with a way to turn that pop-up off entirely, but the real problem is in the interaction design – it shouldn’t be so easy to get it by accident.

We did increase the width of the area for hidden reading/definitions (not the button on writing/tone cards though), but we can’t really adjust the height of these buttons without messing other things up.

We’re all in agreement that popup is too easy to trigger. We’re exploring options to improve this, but this was a good stopping point to submit a beta build and get feedback. Expect improvements in coming builds!

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Close/exit button being constantly on the left side of the screen keeps things easy and predictable. The rest of our app closes the same way, so moving it seems like it would cause more issues than it would fix. Also, the vocab info screen can be accessed from a lot of different areas of the app (study cards, deck section, My Words), so we’re trying to keep things organized.

Any examples of apps you feel are doing this well? We haven’t been tracking how often some of these buttons get tapped, but perhaps we should start doing so. I haven’t really considered the info button a general part of the study flow if I’m honest.

I’m using this quote, but you’re all kinda hitting on the same thing with your feedback. What is distracting about being presented with tons of info to help you learn things better?

I feel that the intention of info in Skritter has always been to provide as many details as possible so that when you do finally get stuck on a word you got wrong you just buck up, open the info panel to do some research… perhaps re-write your definition and add an awesome mnemonic, and then “never” forget it again.

On the old website, I could get lost on these screens for hours (okay, maybe a few minutes), but I always came away from the experience learning more about the item, and the language. It wasn’t’ about speed and efficiency, it was about deeper learning. It may have made my study session a few minutes longer, but it was worth every second I spent.

The point shouldn’t be to open the screen every time you’re studying. It should be to open it once or twice and help dig deeper into the thing you’re clearly struggling to recall or learn because you’re opening the info screen in the first place.

(Much of the above about the info screen is a personal opinion. I really want to understand what others think!)

Finally, as a business, we cannot assume that everyone uses and has Pleco installed on their phone. While we’re grateful to have Pleco integration and we hope it is useful, we still need and want to provide our own information about characters and words that are helpful to the study process. Pleco seems to come up a lot in feedback, but that isn’t our app, and they don’t have a web version so we’re very much in need of our own solutions as well.

P.S. “Popular Mnemonics” are a part of the old iOS application, and we’re trying to make Apple users (we’ve got a lot of them) feel a bit more at home. It’ll likely be a toggle in the app to display them. I’m with many of you about their quality. I find them distracting to my studies!

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From a usability perspective, the big problem is that it is a modal dialog that eliminates all visual cues as to where I am in the application. That’s a jarring experience. The (otherwise commendable) fact that it is used elsewhere in the app actually counts against it in this regard – all of a sudden 100% of my screen is showing me something that could be a drill down from a review or from a word list and I don’t know which. Secondarily, the thing I most use the info drawer for now requires a second, a-n-i-m-a-t-e-d click.

By comparing it to Pleco, I’m not saying “Why have this when I could use Pleco”, I’m saying “It is as jarring and disorienting as opening another app”. It is a heavyweight experience when most of the time I’m not looking for one.

There’s nothing wrong with the dialog itself (well, there are things I would improve, but there’s nothing wrong with the general direction), there’s nothing wrong with providing access to it from the review process, and it’s great from the perspectives of UI consistency and code maintenance that it’s the same as what you use elsewhere in the app. Replacing a lightweight popup with it is my concern.

I know the feeling; I do this a lot. (A lot.) I’m only half joking when I say you’d be doing me a favor by not making it any easier. In a world full of distractions, a UI that helps me stay in the “I’m reviewing” frame of mind has value.

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Really appreciate the detailed reply!

What is the thing you use most on the info drawer? Details are good in this case so I can take notes and compare against other feedback that is bound to come in!

Thanks in advance.

And, thanks to all of you for the super detailed replies. It is very helpful in making changes and improving the app!

If the app remembered the last tab used on the info screen it would solve part of your problem. If I’m looking up the kanji (which is the only reason I use the info screen) it would always take me straight there instead of to a screen with a definition I’ve just seen anyway and a sample sentence and mnemonic I don’t use and can get to (usually by accident) with a pop up anyway.

In short, what Mike said:

The thing I use it for most is double-checking my understanding of individual characters, particularly ones that have multiple pronunciations. To make up an example, if I just entered the tones for 要求 and thought “I just used a first tone for 要 but usually that takes a fourth tone, right?”, I pop open the panel to make sure.

Like Mike said, the definition, pronunciation, etc. are already on the card, and I too don’t care about mnemonics. Occasionally I look to see the originating list or the alternate character set version, again just to quickly refresh my memory. It’s not a lot of information, and it was nice having it all in one place so I could easily glance at it and continue with my reviewing.

Basically powelliptic has described it all quite well already. I also prefer to keep the review flowing and rather quickly pop in and out on information. In my case this would be mnemonics (good hint on that tap above the line) and, most importantly, quick break down of character compounds into single characters and radicals with meanings.

When the old beta’s slide-in info screen came up, it was one of the most wow effects of the beta for me and I was really hoping to once be able break down to radicals in here. it kind of keeps you mentally in the main task of review, like interacting with the study object in question.

So now Leaving the object of study to go through separately loading info screens feels at least for me like interrupting the study flow.
I understand that you might have a different learning style, diving into context, and returning thereafter. I wonder what most Skritter users prefer here. Potentially, there could be best of both worlds, having a responsive slide-in with all the information you might wish for, plus the option (!) of moving out of the review and into some more comprehensive info screen.

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Imagine a slide-in info screen with character break ups and example sentence, which you could then further drag into the screen with your finger, to become your current fullscreen info screen with all the detailed information and ledgers.

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" . . .NOT!" In the legacy app the info button opens a splash screen where the close button is in the upper right hand side, albeit not in the same position on the screen. In the previous betas the info button and its associated close button are in the exact same spot, as I mentioned, which seems to make for logical ergonomics. I would be fine if you wanted to move both buttons to a shared location near the bottom of the screen. Maybe the center would be ideal for either right handed or left handed people.

I haven’t been able to get rawest squigs working. It still seems to behave the same as medium rare squigs: accepts or rejects stroke by stroke.

Ah, got it. Rawest squigs doesn’t seem to work when “basic writing” is enabled in the settings. Not sure if that’s by design, though I can’t see why it would be. Bug I presume?

Ooooooooo… love this

Sorry, I meant in this app. I see that the close button is in the right side of the legacy app.

Thanks, I had the same problem.

In my opinion, “rawest squigs” delivers on the promise of “raw squigs” (the latter feels too much like a game of battleship with a cheating opponent). The performance is bafflingly bad, though. It frequently drops strokes, and has long wait times when I hit “check answer”, which doesn’t makes sense for a writing mode which is theoretically doing less than any other mode. For example, after the first five, and then nine, strokes of 政:

Sometimes the strokes don’t appear at all. Sometimes they appear and immediately disappear.

I tried non-basic “raw squigs” and it turns out it has a similar behavior, but it appears the missing strokes are recognized… just not shown. Here’s a common example and a rather extreme one (no strokes, but correct!):

Assuming that issue is fixed, a great feature would be to actually attempt to grade the strokes at the very end. The common case should be the user is drawing the character correctly, and removing manual work in the common case would be a win.