We reviewed the free version of Hanping Chinese dictionary a while back, but now we actually have our hands on the latest release of the Pro version for review. First let’s have a quick recap of the free version.
The free version comes with the following features:
- Search Chinese characters, English or Pinyin
- Search Traditional or Simplified characters
- Predefined Word Lists (HSK, idioms etc)
- Voice Recognition (On Android 2.1+) – we haven’t been able to test using this as the HTC Desire build of Android doesn’t come with this feature.
- Other features include the dictionary being saved to the SD card, and the app does work offline
The search results consist simply of a list of words, pinyin pronunciations and definitions, in the free version words can’t be saved or bookmarked. Although basic, the search results are very quick and in the latest version of Hanping if a phrase cannot be found then the definitions for each of the constituent characters are displayed – and who can argue with free?
So what does the paid pro version offer that the free version doesn’t?
The main difference is that search results can now be clicked and viewed individually. There are also a series of actions that can be performed on the word, represented by the four icons shown above the word in the image below:
This is a great addition, and the pronunciation of the word really isn’t bad at all. The first time you use this feature you will be prompted to download a 6MB audio file and from then on you can use the speech feature on other words too.
This feature allows you to export the word to other websites for further information and definitions etc. The following four websites are included:
- Further details on the word from Yellow Bridge
- Example Sentences on Jukuu
- Search for the word in Google Dictionary
- Look up the word in Wiktionary
Copy to Clipboard
A simple enough feature, copy the current word to the clipboard. You might want to use this feature if you’re writing an email and need to check a certain word in Chinese. After finding the word using Hanping you can copy it to the clipboard then paste it into your email.
The most notable addition in Hanping Pro is the Lists feature, which includes a series of Predifined lists such as the varying HSK levels and Idiom lists, and also User defined lists. User Lists enable you to create your own lists to save words to. The function works by first activating a list (only one list can be active at a time) by selecting Menu->Active User List from an individual word page and then selecting the list you want to use. A word can then be added to that list by pressing the star icon on the top right of a word page.
The use case for this feature that springs to mind is studying a Chinese text and being able to save all words related to that text into it’s own list for easy review later.
Depending on where you are in the app, the menu button reveals different functionality. On an individual word’s page pressing the menu button also reveals the Share and Hanzi Colouring options:
Tone based word colouring is something that is becoming common place and Hanping includes various colour schemes such as Pleco, Dummit, Thomas and more. Via the Share option you could email a word or share it on Twitter or Facebook depending on the your phone’s settings.
On the search results page the menu button allows you to view existing lists (to create a list you must access the list feature from an individual word page), change the default Chinese from Simplified to Traditional and vice-versa, in addition to Help and About buttons.
The most attractive features of the Pro version are without a doubt the speech and ability to make custom user lists. Whether or not you should pay the £4.99 to enjoy these features depends on your own individual learning Style. If you only use the dictionary periodically or when you are away from the computer then the free version might be sufficient. If you use your mobile phone as your main Chinese dictionary then without a doubt these features will be indispensable to you.
Hanping is a great dictionary and is my day-to-day dictionary of choice on Android, but there are some areas that I feel could be improved/added to make it even better. One of those areas is syncing word lists – If there was some way to sync word lists with a desktop computer or a web site then the app could be more integrated into the complete Chinese learning process, rather than a stand alone dictionary. It would also be great if it was possible to view PDF or text documents with annotated definitions, but this is getting away from the features of a dictionary and more into the realm of a full featured learning tool.
Try out the free version and see what you think, if you find yourself constantly looking up the same words or using your notebook to make word lists, then the pro version might be for you.
Something worth noting is that if you are in a country that doesn’t support buying apps from the Android Market Place, you can use a pay-as-you-go simcard from a country like the UK, and then access the store over wifi to buy apps.
Disclosure: We were provided with a one-week trial version of Hanping for this review
Do you use Hanping on Android? Of not which dictionary app do you use and why? Let us know in the comments!