I wanted to start a small discussion with all of you about the best smartphone apps available for studying Japanese. Could everyone please comment with their own favorite apps? Or apps that they would recommend to others? Please give some more details about the app. What is the app meant for, so give a descriptions. Tell us why you like the app so much and why it is in your opinion better than others. Also please tell us why we should start using it. If you feel that it has drawbacks than please also share them.
My personal favorites are as follows.
1) Anki. This one is my top. Especially because I have never known what a flashcard is until the age of 22! In North-West Europe flashcards are not used in education. When I came to Japan for the first time, I got to know about the existence of flashcards and how to use. Way before I had already heard and learned about the existence of Anki, but simply because I did not know what a flashcard is, the piece of software seemed quite useless and complex to me. After experiencing working with flashcards in real life, I realized the true value of flashcards in Anki.
Anki does have drawbacks and I especially agree to this article.
2) Akebi. This dictionary is by far the best Japanese dictionary that I have ever used. Before using Akebi, I have worked with JED and Jsho. Akebi combines the functionality and still has added functionality. Example sentences, autocomplete, decomposition of Kanji, Stroke order diagrams, kanji handwriting recognition (it works quite well) and many more. DEFINITELY a recommendation for people out there!
3) Then finally Obenkyo. It uses SRS (spaced repitition system) to study kanji. It works really well, but the drawback is that the kanji is taken out of the context. It is for me not fun at all to study kanji without any context. That is also why Remembering the Kanji, which is SOOO popular among many people, does not work at all for me. During JLPT 5 in Obenkyo, I have learned the kanji and words for West, East, North and South. I always thought that it is quite weird that those Kanji are so important. That was until I came to Japan, because here at every single station, exits are marked with directions like West East North and South. So it is actually one of the most common Kanji that you will be seeing throughout your stay in Japan. This is something that you cannot understand if the Kanji are taken out of context.
Okay I have some great ones!
I use HelloTalk to find people to practice Japanese with (or rather let them find me, since I have so many people to chat with now!)
I use Mixi to chat with people who speak almost no English to force myself to use Japanese and learn conversational skills (survival style!!)
I use Line to chat in person with Japanese native speakers.
ebiReader - For Japanese eBooks and manga.
AnkiDroid - Flashcards, to reinforce things I run into, usually.
JLPT Words - I'm not taking the JLPT, but it has quite a bit of vocabulary. I only use it for completely new words I run into. I force myself to free type them in Japanese and choose the correct Kanji (on my keyboard). I do a quiz of all my favorites (the new words) and after 5 correct writings, they get 5 stars and I un-favorite them. This is not a good way to memorize, but it does help with the muscle memory when it comes to writing (typing), if that makes sense. I let Anki take it from here.
Hulu - (Haha, bet you didn't think I would say this) - Hulu has tons of anime and Japanese dramas. Recent ones too.
Kanji Draw - Draw the Kanji (using the right stroke order) to search for new kanji you encounter! You have to have good handwriting and also know how to write it. A radical dictionary is sometimes more practical, but this will scrutinize your stroke order like a strict teacher lol
Furigana Browser - Finally! Browsing on your phone with furigana. Thank goodness. Use this if you are used to Rikachan/Rikaikun? You know the thing that is like a hover dictionary.
Tune In Radio - Listen to Japanese radio stations in real time! :) This thing has been a lifesaver!
That's all :)
This is an older discussion and seems mostly focused on Android apps, but I'll put in a vote for two apps I use on iOS, which also have Android versions.
Wisdom English-Japanese/Japanese-English Dictionary
This is Sanseido's dictionary, and this is by far the best dictionary for smartphones/tablets in my opinion. It is not for beginners, and is probably more geared for Japanese people studying English (for example, it will only play audio for English words), but it is indispensible. I have tried many of the free and not free JDICT based apps (like "Imiwa", "Midori", and "Japanese"), and the quality is just not up to what a, ahem, "real" dictionary can offer (no fault of the app makers of course, that's just what JDICT is). Wisdom doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of those apps in terms of stroke order, flash cards, etc., but the quality of the content more than makes up for that.
Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary
This is the official app for Jack Halpern's kanji dictionary. If you're familiar with the books then you'll enjoy using it as it's just like the book but much easier to look up kanji. I'm not completely sold on the "SKIP" system, but there are other ways to look up kanji in the app (by radical, by reading). The best part of the app (and the book) is that there are a lot of compounds given for each entry, and if you want to improve your kanji/vocabulary, compounds is where it's at.
Neither of these are cheap -- in fact they are quite expensive as far as apps go. But you buy them once and they last forever, and they're a hell of a lot lighter/portable/easier to use than books would be, at about the same price.
Imiwa for translating and a dictionary
Tae kim japanese language for grammar
imiwa helps with kanji and its strokes and tae kim helps with most grammar that is used everyday and even some keigo.
My favorites are:
It's all in Japanese so you need to have a basic understanding ( and a dictionary to translate in case you don't know the meaning ) but it has all the basic kanji from elementary school in Japan and it is my favorite way to refresh myself on some on the older ones I have forgotten.
The drawback is that you have to pay to use it, but I really like the ease of it and how it has a bunch of vocabulary sets already in it (such as JLPT, Genki, etc) and has the spaced repetition system as well. Goes really well with the actual web site.
Thanks for the other suggestions! I'll have to look into them ^^