Beta 5 Released

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Staff member
After 2 months of furious tweaking and bug-fixing, we're finally ready to release Pleco for Android Beta 5. (we're skipping Beta 4 because we don't want to tempt misfortune here)

This will hopefully be very close to our finished app; ideally we'll just need to do one or two minor bug-fix updates over the next couple of weeks and have the official version ready soon after that.

We apologize for the long wait - our new website design is taking WAY longer than expected (much of it was outsourced to a third-party firm - from now on our web development will probably stay in-house), and since we were hoping to launch that along with our finished Android app we decided to use the extra time to implement some improvements to a few important functions which we're also in the midst of improving on iOS; the upgraded + button functionality and refinements to the dictionary definition screen / definition switching on tablets / entry rendering have been on our to-do list for a while now, and this was a perfect opportunity to finally get them checked off.

We've also used the time to improve our hardware compatibility testing a bit - we now have about a dozen Android devices in a regular test pool, every one of which can (at least with a few settings tweaks) be made to run OCR beautifully, and we've even done some preliminary testing on Ice Cream Sandwich using a hacked firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S.

The new features, however, may have introduced a couple of minor new bugs of their own, which is why we're not calling this a "release candidate" quite yet. Also for that reason, we'd advise those of you who absolutely cannot afford to have anything stop working that worked correctly in Beta 3 to hold off on upgrading for a few days just in case a horrible new bug has somehow managed to escape our testing.

(also see the Pocket Oxford dictionary launch announcement here)


Download the latest APK file by entering:

into your device's web browser.

The new OCR / Flashcard / Reader Launcher apps can be downloaded here - install whichever APKs you want from that .zip file.

Beta 5 Changes

New Features

  • Added a result-specific "switch dictionary" button on the main screen in merged list/definition mode - this will let you see different dictionaries' take on a specific word without having to move away from the current search results.
  • Overhauled how result lists are managed on the separate definition screen as well; now, the scroll arrows at the bottom right corner of the screen always scroll through the result list (and only that). When you switch to a dictionary that has more than one match for the original headword, new arrows appear on the side of the screen to scroll through that, while the old arrows at the bottom continue to scroll you through the main result list.
  • Overhauled the flashcard duplicate indicator / duplicate-handling interface; there are now separate options for what to do when a duplicate card already exists but is not in your current category and what to do when the card exists and is in your current category, with a new + icon for the first state (card exists but not in category). By default, you'll now see a helpful prompt in the latter case which will offer to show you the duplicate card and to remove it from the category, delete it altogether, or do nothing. You can also configure this to automatically remove the card from the current category *and* delete the card if as a result of that it's now uncategorized, useful if you'd like to be able to quickly delete a card altogether if you created it by accident.
  • Added an option to create a new category directly from the + tap-hold menu.
  • Added a "Use System IME" option to flashcard testing that lets you use your own keyboard instead of ours; this is activated automatically when you do a fill-in-the-blanks character test without owning our handwriting add-on.
  • Added an automatic flashcard capture feature to OCR, as already found in our iOS software; enable it via a menu command and you can then point at lists of words one by one to add them to flashcards (with a satisfying little "beep" noise each time a word is added).
  • Added landscape orientation support to OCR, greatly improving its usability on tablets. (a "left-handed" option is also included)
  • Added three separate little applications to launch Pleco directly in its OCR, flashcard testing, or document reader screens.
  • Added an option to adjust the width ratio between the list and definition in combined mode.
  • Added two new live OCR configuration options designed to deal with unusual screen / camera configurations and buggy drivers. "Camera orientation" changes the orientation of the camera relative to the screen - "Camera Natural" uses whatever the camera's default setting is, which we've found to work on just about any device (even otherwise unusable ones like the Galaxy Player) since it mimics the behavior of the built-in Android camera app, while other options let you rotate the image by 90/180/270 degrees from its normal orientation to deal with devices that handle that in an unusual way (the HTC ChaCha e.g.). "Screen orientation" forces the screen to use portrait or landscape orientation rather than rotating based on the device position - with "Camera natural" you'll probably want landscape.
  • Added a "take still image" command to OCR to take a new picture and then OCR it.
  • Added support for "split category" and "merge category" in Organize Flashcards as popup menu items; "Split" boasts a new "sequential" mode that keeps blocks of cards together instead of alternating one-by-one. (like dividing a room full of people in half by splitting them in the middle, rather than dividing them by making each person count off 1/2/1/2)
  • Added support for hyperlinked abbreviation explanations in dictionary entries, and implemented them in a new version of the ABC dictionary; download that from the "Updates" tab in "Add-ons."
  • Added the ability to auto-detect the rotation of a still image from EXIF data and show it in that rotation initially.
  • Made the "character set" menu command in the definition screen apply systemwide rather than being confined to that screen.
  • Cleaned up the dictionary entry formatting engine in general to handle whitespace better (and generate more of it).
  • Added the ability to replace ~s in ABC example sentences with the actual headwords (already supported in PLC); enable this via Settings / Dictionary / Definition screen interface / Don't replace headword.
  • Added an option to prioritize the introduction of new "unlearned" flashcards in ascending order of age (so new cards are introduced *first*, useful if you've recently added a bunch of new lessons that you consider it a high priority to work on)
  • Added a basic free demo version of flashcard testing with a severely reduced set of options / features.
  • Added the ability for the demo version of the audio pronunciation module to play multi-syllable words syllable-by-syllable - multi-syllable recordings are only available in the paid version, however.
  • Added options for which character set to use when matching results in merged multi-dict search.
  • Added an option to add an indicator to merged multi-dict results to tell you which dictionary a particular result is from.
  • Added support for saved flashcard sessions - sorry we missed that before.
  • Added tap-hold menu commands to remove a particular dictionary entry from flashcards / add or remove it to/from a particular flashcard category
  • Added a "recent files" section to the document reader "bookmarks" screen to make it a bit easier to jump to recently-viewed files (or delete their bookmarks to free up space).
  • Added Android Market Billing support to the "Add-ons" screen, though you won't be able to use it until we release our finished app.
  • Added "night mode" support to pretty much every screen in Pleco.
  • Added an option to add dates to the history screen (so you'll know when you looked up a particular word).
  • Added a "(create new)" option to the Edit Entry screen when no existing user dictionary exists.
  • Added entry feedback / general feedback options to "Settings" and added more information to its "Contact Support" email template.
  • Added a "lock orientation" option for the document reader (in settings).
  • Added an option to disable automatic screen off in the document reader.
  • Added a document reader option to scroll through pages with the volume keys.
  • Added a new "sticky selection" option to Settings / Dictionary / Manage Dicts; this will cause the system to "lock" on a particular dictionary once you've selected it and not automatically switch to a different one, useful for subject-specific dictionaries (like our forthcoming TCM one) where you might want to limit searches to only that dictionary even if the system can find a better match in a different one.

Design Tweaks

  • Re-styled toolbars to use more and better icons and look a little smoother / slicker in general.
  • Made the dictionary switch button in the definition screen look "disabled" when no other dictionaries have definitions available for the current word.
  • Cleaned up a bunch of progress dialogs that were either allowing you to exit them while they were still running in the background or failing to display their progress correctly.
  • Made the flashcard test category selection screen open on startup any categories whose child categories were enabled.
  • Made the status bar (clock / battery) visible at the top of the screen during still-image OCR, though for technical reasons it's still not shown in live.
  • Made the Quick Input Bar available on tablets in combined mode.
  • Hid the voice input button on devices where speech recognition is unavailable.
  • Made the option to display the category in flashcard creation popup alerts always enabled, and expanded/clarified those messages a bit.
  • Added an alert when a particular 字info field is only available in the "Extended" Unihan database.
  • Made the "settings" menu commands from OCR / reader / etc take you to the main settings screen rather than a mode-specific one.
  • Made OCR automatically open in still image mode on devices that lack cameras
  • Added an option to append "send to reader"ed OCR results to previous such results, useful for capturing multiple blocks of text at a time.
  • Added an option to disable screen auto-off during OCR sessions.
  • Added the ability to auto-detect that Pleco is configured to open files from /external_sd when it should actually be opening them from /mnt/sdcard (or vice versa) and use the correct directory.
  • Moved the testing-specific flashcard options (filter head in defns, back tab back immediately, correct/incorrect color, etc) from Settings to Flashcard Testing, since it was confusing to have them in two separate places.
  • Eliminated the glitchy "image unclear" indicator in OCR until we can get it working more smoothly.
  • Added an alert on startup when Pleco detects that your SD card is currently unavailable because it's connected to your computer.
  • Improved the handling of failed downloads in the first-run file downloader, and added support for optional updates.
  • Added CC-CEDICT to our bundle of initially-downloaded files, since it's free and most people are going to want it anyway; you can still delete it via "Add-ons," though.
  • Added support in the document reader for opening other common text file extensions besides .txt.
  • Improved the reliability of add-on downloads and fleshed out some of the demo / purchase options.
  • Added confirmation dialogs to the Organize Flash "remove" / "delete" commands.
  • Added useful tap-hold menu commands to the History screen.
  • Made handwriting candidates stick around between handwriting screen opens / closes.
  • Added handwriting "two finger" explanation text to its flashcard version.
  • Made the clipboard reader "Save" prompt auto-fill the file name with the first line of text.
  • Tweaked the motion constants in OCR to improve the reliability of the motion auto-pause feature.
  • Renamed "Document Reader" to "Text File Reader" since in the initial Android release that's all it does.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug that frequently caused OCR to return useless / incorrect results on the Samsung Galaxy SII.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the recognition area in the OCR "scroll rec area" option to be initially positioned incorrectly relative to the previous recognition area.
  • Fixed a crash when canceling a file save or open in the document reader.
  • Fixed a bug that caused audio to fail to play on Bluetooth headsets.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause random superscript numbers to appear in the middle of hyperlinks.
  • Eliminated the annoying "linetest.bin" file that kept appearing in /mnt/sdcard when using the document reader.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause "clipboard monitor" to get stuck in an infinite loop.
  • Fixed a bug that caused many radicals in the radical input screen to be un-tappable.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause slow playback in the stroke order screen.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the keyboard to be hidden when starting up in landscape mode on some devices.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the full flashcard statistics screen text from displaying correctly.
  • Fixed a bug that caused crashes in certain settings screens on devices running Android 3.2 or later.
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused searches to switch out of merged multi-dictionary mode when they weren't supposed to.
  • Fixed a bug that caused wildcard searches to generate strange results when entering a long search with no exact match.
  • Fixed a bug that caused full-text searches with trailing spaces to fail to return results
  • Fixed a bug that caused the "switch dictionary" command in the separate definition screen to sometimes show entries longer than the original search term
  • Fixed a bug that could cause English-Chinese dictionary hyperlinks to point to the wrong entry.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the popup reader "bubble" from extending its highlight across spaces.
  • Fixed a bug that made color picker preferences fail to display on devices running Android 3.0 or later.
  • Fixed a bug that caused draggable list items to sometimes appear shifted off to one side of the screen.
  • Fixed a bug that caused handwriting results to stay scrolled over (if previously scrolled by the user) rather than resetting to the first result.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause OCR results to occasionally disappear when resizing the recognition area while paused.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented tap-hold-selected alternate results in OCR from applying to the definition lookup.
  • Fixed a crashing bug in still image OCR when the image is rotated or you're recognizing something close to the edge of the screen.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the main dictionary entry list to turn black when a new add-on finished downloading in the background.
  • Fixed a bug that caused text in the main search field to be cleared when switching to the settings screen / returning from it.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the bottom few lines of documents to be clipped off the screen when the popup reader "bubble" was locked to the bottom of the screen in the document reader.
  • Fixed a couple of crashing bugs relating to exiting flashcard sessions.
  • Fixed a bug that could prevent the "repeat incorrect" test from running from a manually-exited flashcard test if it's configured to exit immediately rather than prompting to save the current session.
  • Fixed a crashing bug in "Search Cards."
  • Fixed a bug in the Flashcard Testing "Interface" score unit option that made it show the wrong set of choices.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the flashcard Test Settings "audio auto-play on show" option from working correctly.
  • Fixed a bug that occasionally prevented the dictionary definition display from scrolling to the top when switching to a new entry.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the volume control buttons to apply to the ringtone volume rather than the volume of Chinese audio in Pleco.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented bookmarks from being saved correctly when switching files in the document reader.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented cards marked incorrect in an "undo" from being included in an end-of-session incorrect card review.
  • Fixed a bug that severely limited the length of imported user dictionary entry definitions (and caused crashes when definitions exceeded that length).
  • Fixed a bug that could cause dictionary entries to be formatted incorrectly when a particular section ended with an uppercase single-letter Pinyin syllable.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Pleco to keep using the regular Unihan database even after installing the "extended" one.
  • Fixed an obscure crash on database read errors.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the keyboard to be hidden in fill-in-the-blanks flashcard tests with flashcard databases transferred over from our Palm / Windows Mobile software.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the flashcard "reverse button order" option from working correctly.
  • Numerous other small fixes for crashes, UI glitches, etc
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