I’ve always been a fan of Jim Breen’s Japanese dictionary, so when I found out that there’s an iPhone app out for it, I was really happy. Finally, I don’t have to load the entire Jim Breen page, and now, with the iPhone’s new ability to write in Japanese, all my dirty iPhone dreams would become a mobile reality.
The dictionary is the little wwwJDic icon, and yes, huge M’s fan!
Looking up Japanese Vocab
The first thing I did was look up words, English -> Japanese. I found that it wasn’t always perfect, but neither is the original Jim Breen dictionary, for that matter. Sometimes, the web version requires you to scroll through lists and lists of results. Although it is sometimes difficult to find the vocabulary word you were originally searching for, Jim Breen’s depth of search results are handy when you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.
Back to the iPhone version!
The iPhone version is quite a bit worse than the real version. The iPhone version will only allow you to see the first page of results when the vocab word you’re looking for can sometimes be on page two or three. For example, when I searched for telephone, it wouldn’t come up with 電話 (でんわ). Instead, it came up with things like telephone box, push pin telephone, etc. The results for telephone were probably on pages two or three, but since those results aren’t included in the iPhone version, there was no way to find the right translation. There were situations like this where it was obvious it didn’t quite work right, so at least you won’t be tricked into thinking a translation is something it’s not.
Here’s one that did work. I searched for the word Monkey, and it came up with these results:
I turned “Common Words Only,” since this normally helps the real version of this dictionary come up with more usable search results.
First result was correct! Sadly, the results aren’t always the best possible results. That’s something that hopefully they will work on for the future of this app.
Translating Kanji into English
Here’s another feature I was excited about. Since the iPhone can now type in Japanese, being able to look up kanji would be wonderful. Unfortunately, at this time (August 6, 2008), the app just crashes whenever you try to look something up. I hope they fix this feature soon.
I wasn’t entirely impressed with this application. It has a lot of potential for being a great Japanese dictionary for the iPhone, but it just doesn’t work consistantly enough (right now). I think it will get better, so it’s worth checking out after they fix some of the bugs. There’s another Japanese dictionary on the iTunes App store, iJisho, but that ones way way worse, plus it costs money. The wwwJDic application is free, and you can’t beat that, especially when it beats the current competition (which isn’t all that great either).
Even though this application is buggy, and it doesn’t always come up with good search results, it’s still the best thing available, so if you’re looking for a Japanese dictionary for your iPhone, this is your best bet.
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