TouchMyApps » Study All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 i文庫 (iBunko) – The App Store’s best reader Wed, 05 Aug 2009 18:26:04 +0000 I spend more time reading than tending to important life matters. My wife has even threatened to leave me and my books on several occasions. But not to matter; I’ve found an alternative to the hand-torch and a pillow to hide in the filth of literature: the iDevice. Stanza and eReader Pro have supplied most … Read more]]>


I spend more time reading than tending to important life matters. My wife has even threatened to leave me and my books on several occasions. But not to matter; I’ve found an alternative to the hand-torch and a pillow to hide in the filth of literature: the iDevice. Stanza and eReader Pro have supplied most of my needs till now, but when I feel adventurous, or simply can’t find a great read in English, I turn to Japanese texts. One of the problems however, is that Japanese texts don’t read as naturally when displayed horizontally. i文庫 (iBunko) is a Japanese reader which doesn’t compete directly compete with my favourites. Rather, it exists alongside both apps as a great alternative reader for the highly literate Japanese market and for those who are interested in reading Japanese texts.

iBunko is built from the ground up to be an easy-to-use app which displays Japanese texts in high-resolution fonts. If that is its mandate, it fulfills it in spades. But nagisa’s app goes way beyond any typical reader – with a stubbornly robust feature list, iBunko would also embarrass some application suites in terms of broad utility as a file managing app.


Flawless interface

Firstly, like eReader and Stanza, it plugs into a vast database of free books and includes a built in library of books (151 to be exact!). But 151 books from novels to how-to’s isn’t going to capture the attentions of many readers for for very long. Fortunately, iBunko also links to Aozora, an online resource which houses around 7000 texts and whose origins span the globe. As far as I can be certain, every one is translated into Japanese. Similar to Project Gutenberg, a large portion of Aozora’s collection has become free to download due to a print life of more than 70 years. Other sources, released under Creative Common’s licenses can be found buried within the collection.


While targeted at the Japanese market, learners of the language also stand to benefit from iBunko. Ever read Sherlock Holmes? Well, bone up a bit on its English version, then download the Japanese analogue and enjoy the story via translation. For the most part, iBunko works well for students, and when accessing well-documented texts. But in order to approach some older, archaic texts which need side notes and better look-up tools, users may feel a bit stranded. There isn’t a way to directly access a dictionary though the app. Text cannot be selected, referenced, or queried for study or analysis.

Where iBunko really excels, however, isn’t its excellent implementation of the ‘usual suspects’ – online libraries, texts, and good reading engine. iBunko is a top-notch reader, but it is minutely structured. Users can rename libraries, organise files and libraries, can read from the web or download to the iDevice, and import from user-specified FTP servers and 3rd-party software. FTP access works very well to access TXT and Zip files. When a text file is opened from within iBunko, it is quickly formatted into vertically-aligned text – this works brilliantly with Japanese texts. English texts also receive the same treatment, which is good for a laugh, but not for reading.

Navigation is done by flicking, and to explore the complex menu system, you need to tap the screen to bring up its icons. iBunko is by far a more lovely model than even the latest versions of Stanza and eReader. While harnessing a good flick-based navigation system, it is far better labelled , utilising secondary, dedicated controls such as page forward and backward buttons.


iBunko, meet English!

Therein are also the (somewhat) familiar faces: しおり(bookmark), 青空文庫(the online library), 本棚(your personal library), and 設定(settings). There isn’t space to explain it all in a review except to say that from bookmarks to settings, iBunko is the most comprehensive reader I have encountered on any platform, ever. It will display memory usage for the iDevice and all running processes much like Activity Monitor does in OSX. There is a multitude of controls and tweaks for your reading pleasure from font selection to colours (which can be selected from web-colours in the RGB format); you can update the app’s synthetic data whilst in-app and sync with the entire Aozora database – a project which will keep your iDevice busy for a looooong time.


But that is only scratching the surface. iBunko directs users to texts in a variety of ways. Author, Title, date, popularity, recommended reads, and reviews – each of these can be utilised to find something to read (and trust me, there is definitely something for you). I found this browsing system to be very good, with fewer chinks in its armour than Stanza’s online browser, except that iBunko does not allow you to browse by genre. So, finding something on the very subject you want, may take longer than first anticipated.

Got texts of your own which you want to download onto your iDevice? Not a problem. As mentioned above, it can be done in several ways, the simplest of which is Direct Download from the web. Online texts which are found in either of the supported formats (TXT or ZIP) can be entered directly into the URL field of 指定ダウンロード (direct download) under your bookshelf (本棚). Assuming that the file follows the specifications needed by iBunko, everything will transfer flawlessly to your library. Using FTP or DiskAid, any file you durst offload onto (whoopee!) the device will fit somewhere into the bowels of your device. In other words, iBunko is also a great way to turn your iDevice into a hefty thumb drive. While iBunko will only display TXT and ZIP files in its direct or share folders, anything can be transferred through it to your iDevice. Sadly, my AIFF music file which underwent a name change to a TXT did not read the way I wanted ;)


Remember though, that iBunko is a reader first and foremost; it just happens to do everything else. for reading, it is simply superb. Formatted texts look great, but unformatted TXT files are overhauled in real-time to look like professionally published works. iBunko is extremely easy on the eyes in its default form and can be tweaked to fit your fancy. Titles are displayed in the upper left corner of the device and page numbers on the right. Pinch, spread and pan functions are flawless, and in general, navigation is far smoother than on any other platform. From button placement to GUI consistency, iBunko is a dream to both read and use.

That isn’t to say that its intricacy immediately disseminates to the user, but such a vast application with unparalleled features is mind-bogglingly simple to use. Nagisa also have an excellent online tutorial which will get any user through the basics of just about any function in the app. The caveat? It’s all in Japanese. Of course, considering the market for this application, it is not strike against the company, nor the product, but unless you are extra-adventurous in your studies, it may be daunting. The tutorial is below:

nagisa’s iBunko tutorial

There isn’t much that iBunko lacks. Genre searches and and connection to an online store would help its wide-spread use of course, but in its current form, this reader is head-and-shoulders above the competition. But that is to be expected. Japan is one of the most literate countries in the world, if not the most – apps like Stanza and eReader Pro which have wowed the ABC world are just shy on ability for the かきくけこ world. But then again, Stanza and eReader Pro attack a segment of the population which isn’t targeted by nagisa’s app. If iBunko could be tweaked to read non-Japanese text easily, it would hands-down be the best reader for a multitude of languages across the iPhone. Its combination of text options, library tweaking, stability, and overall feature robustness is peerless among digital readers. For 4,99$, this nagisa app is a steal for those who will benefit from a Japanese reader. Add file storage to the mix and its price deflates even further. But, nothing is perfect, and due to its lack of genre searching and access to a dictionary or other reference tool, iBunko walks away with a grab from TMA.


App Summary
Title: i文庫 iBunko (V 2.4) Developer: nagisa
Price: $4.99 App Size: 13.8 MB
  • Best reader interface
  • Perfect ergonomics
  • Great online library
  • Tweakable
  • Continued and dedicated development staff
  • Transforms iDevice into thumb drive!
  • No genre browsing
  • No access to dictionary apps


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出る順で最短合格 in Review – Quick English and Japanese Study Tool Fri, 15 May 2009 14:12:13 +0000 Nihon IR, maker of PC Dr. Momo, along with the Japan Times, have an ace up their sleeves; 出る順 is an excellent Japanese-English study tool as well as a great reference for learners of Japanese. It is a set of true language study implements that are geared toward the Japanese learner of English, but also … Read more]]>


Nihon IR, maker of PC Dr. Momo, along with the Japan Times, have an ace up their sleeves; 出る順 is an excellent Japanese-English study tool as well as a great reference for learners of Japanese. It is a set of true language study implements that are geared toward the Japanese learner of English, but also serves as an excellent Japanese learning reference.

To become acquainted with 出る順, you have to be willing to experiment if your Japanese is stuck at difficult kanji. However, as it is a reference for Japanese learners of English, the main bulk of users should be comfortable with all aspects of text, layout and differing modes of study. (By the way, this review was written on QuickOffice for the iPhone!)

Modes Overview
一級(level one) comprises 1500~ English vocabulary which can be tackled by different study methods including ordered reviews, Spelling Test (word scramble), Challenge Mode and a review of prior studied vocabulary.

Ordered List 単熟語一覧
The ordered list is a very helpful mode of study. You may choose from any group in the the full list catalogue of 1500 words and to include or ignore previously studied words. If you are very daring, a random generator may tickle your fancy. Every group, random or not contains 100 vocabulary, which when selected, display the English word, the Japanese equivalent and finally the word used in example sentences in both English and Japanese. Making this mode even more helpful is a recording (not a digital reading) in natural English and Japanese of the vocabulary and then the example English sentence.


Spelling Test スペリングテスト
Spelling Test (or word scramble) will display a Japanese word or phrase in the upper portion of the screen and a jumble of letters below. If you can suss out the meaning and spelling, either drag the letters to the open text field above, or double tap each letter to enter it in proper order. As language students know, vocab alone works for speaking, but the forgotten art of spleling is just as important in founding your competence in any language. For word-game geniuses, this mode will be simple to suss out but engaging and helpful for your study. Though not my forte, I had fun approaching the game backwards from English to Japanese.


Challenge Mode 四択テスト
The next section, Challenge Mode will select a group of Japanese words that needs to be translated into English. As a word guess game, you must match the meaning of the Japanese at the top of the screen word with the most equivalent English word from the list below it. When you have finished that group of words, you will be given a report card of sorts. Words that you have not remembered correctly will be automatically set aside for review. I found this section to suit my study habits best and to be an excellent tool for remembering Japanese. Of course, for the learner of English, this will be a great method to test not only vocabulary, but the number of words you have retained in your studies.

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Review mode will challenge both the words that you have passed and those that you have failed in the various tests you have taken in the past month or in the entire time you have studied using 出る順.

Settings 設定
Nihon IR have taken time and dedicated their time to create an excellent study tool which shows in the polished programming, well designed menus and depth of utility. In the settings menu (which can be accessed from the home screen as well as from the top right-hand side of any drill mode) are many choices. You can activate or deactivate voices and background music (not worth it), change volume, and change settings for timing and that pesky list of easily-mistaken vocabulary.

Conclusion 結論
What more can I say? this understated study tool is a smash hit. While intended for the eagre learner of English, 出る順 also offers so much for the already well-studied Japanese scholar. Though the App Store is well behind other software banks, Nihon IR are not intimidated by the dearth of competition and have made an excellent product. The only real recommendation I can make would be to have a special edition that includes all editions of the software included rather than just one at a time. For 8.99$, you are paying for a quality product that deserves praise, however its pricepoint hits above its content range and thus takes a ギリギリ Grab.


App Summary
Title: 出る順で最短合格 (V 1.1)
Developer: Nihon IR
Price: $8.99 App Size: 69.7 MB
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great test options
  • Powerful study tools
  • Good voices and example sentences
  • Amazing wealth of memory excercises
  • Too expensive for its content – would be great to have each level be encompassed completely in an 8.99$ package.
  • BGM is really not worthwhile!


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Mantis Bible Study in Review – A Bookshelf in Your Pocket Mon, 13 Apr 2009 05:45:00 +0000 The number of useful references at the App Store is growing rapidly. Just months ago, was was no Enfour AHD4 or Deluxe Oxford nor had Amazon’s Kindle been released to provide competition for eReader and Stanza. Truly the iPhone as a platform is evolving: able to stand toe to toe in some applications with computers … Read more]]>


The number of useful references at the App Store is growing rapidly. Just months ago, was was no Enfour AHD4 or Deluxe Oxford nor had Amazon’s Kindle been released to provide competition for eReader and Stanza. Truly the iPhone as a platform is evolving: able to stand toe to toe in some applications with computers for its usefulness as a reference. What once was relegated to libraries because of size, weight, volume and expense can now be carried in one’s pocket. The Bible is a resource that I would like to be able to tote in a bag along with a dictionary but until now has been impossible. In the App Store, there are many free and commercial Bible apps that bump shoulders vying for your download or purchase. While many do their job commendably, it still is hard to separate the chaff from the wheat if your needs, beyond simple reading and devotions, demand resources other than the Bible itself.

Mantis are a dedicated Bible Software company who have brought entire Bible libraries to the App Store and ultimately your pocket. What they offer at base is a free Bible reader and King James Text with easy lookup, search and note-taking tools. Additionly and for purchase, is a library of useful if not necessary resources for Bible study that should equally excite the Bible student, pastor and scholar as well as the average Bible reader.

Mantis Bible Study is a practical and pretty app that covers all fronts. Commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, Bibles – everything – is well integrated, making searching and studying seamless and easy tasks.

Perhaps the best feature however is Mantis’ customer service. With so many module choices in their website, deciding which one best fits is difficult. Thankfully, after a few emails and suggestions by their staff, my needs were put sussed out. Now, I have a virtual Bible library at my fingertips. Considering that many of the resources they provide are costly, the help and support they provide in finding software to fit your needs is indispensable.

Mantis Bible Study is now in its fourth revision. Developer Mark Burggraf fastidiously works to implement customer requests and fix errors or add functionality. His work has made Mantis Bible Study the premiere Bible software in the app store.

This is a concise list of features in Mantis Bible Study:
Flexible content:
• Comes with the full King James text
• Works offline — no network connection is necessary for reading and studying
• Additional Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals and other books can be purchased and installed immediately (with more than 80 titles already available.) Check the “Bible Store” for available titles and other free resources
• Two-touch translation chooser instantly shows the current text in any installed Bible translation

Great navigation options:
• Tap in the top right and drag down to jump to any verse in the current chapter
• Tap in the top left and drag down to jump to any chapter in the current book
• Tap in the bottom left and drag up to jump to any book in the current volume
• Tap in the bottom right and drag up to jump to any installed volume (KJV, NASB, etc.)
• Quick History – jump from verse to verse and back again quickly, even across different volumes
• Quick-reference chapter and section headers make finding the right text easy
• New Grid Mode – jump to any book, chapter, and verse in 3 quick taps
• Tap the book name to navigate the book, chapter, verse chooser
• Tap the chapter number to navigate to to the chapter, verse chooser within the current book
• Landscape (sideways) operation now available throughout the program (type notes and make searches using the larger, wider keyboard!)

Fantastic study tools:
• Fantastic support for Bibles with integrated Strong’s Numbers – tap a number to open a definition, tap it again to close it
• Additional support for Strong’s Numbers: drill-down to root word(s), tap to find where a number is used throughout Scripture, then tap and preview verses
• Easily create bookmarks, notes, and highlights for any verse in the Bible, or even for commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, or other books
• References to Scripture inside personal notes are automatically turned into one-tap cross-references
• Create, edit, and move bookmarks and bookmark folders
• Unique “Analyze Verse” feature shows a single verse in multiple translations on one page, along with any installed commentaries for the selected verse
• Fast and flexible, yet simple search system
• Save search results as a named folder full of bookmarks
• Personal notes and translation notes appear inline with the text and can be toggled on and off, making it easier to view the notes within the context of its related scripture
• Highlighting Bar allows highlighting of individual words and phrases in 4 colors
• Inline verse-display toggle links for all cross-reference links (in commentaries, dictionaries and other books containing scripture references)
• Jump directly to Biblical text from cross references inside commentary, dictionary, devotional, or other books

Mantis is full to the brim with helpful navigation, look up and study tools to make you as productive as possible. I have my Mantis Bible Study with me everywhere in the last few weeks; it has been my church Bible, my devotional and of course my study tool. Everyone’s needs are different and I hope that my uses will match at least some of yours and that this review will help you decide whether or not this software is for you.

Mantis Bible Study is a well laid-out software with many iPhone-esque icons and navigation features. It is smooth in both portrait or landscape mode and offers many different look up methods and a great search engine that you can tweak with wild-card searches, exact phrase matches among others. It is incredible to see what is possible in a mobile platform. As mentioned earlier, Mantis is updated often which is helpful as it is also has a number of small bugs. Some selection screens ‘stuck’ after moving to other sections there are loading times for certain look ups, however with software with this much depth and power to it, I am not surprised.

Some icons I found spaced too closely together to operate smoothly and often times, after tapping a selection, I will find that what the software thinks I tapped and what I think I tapped are two different things. This is not usually a problem but for highlighting (a great feature), it sometimes becomes annoying as my ‘highlighter’ will scribble all over the page.

Saying that, there is simply no end to the depth that the interface, look up shortcuts, hot corners and intricate search engine provide to the user. Mantis is as fully realised as MacOS or Windows Bible Software, makes no aplogies for its meagre platform and performs admirably considering its weight and depth of features.

For the Scholar
Mantis’ resources are instantly accessible and easy to use. Users of Strong’s Concordance will be relieved that there is no need for thumbing through the Bible, the Strong’s number reference and finally the Strongs Concordance. Rather, Mantis allows you to choose between Strong’s numbers and underlined, searchable words. In either case, a simple tap will open up the Concordance references for that word. Please look at the video below for Mantis’ explanation.

Comparative studies also are ready at your finger tips. By clicking on verse numbers, a menu dialogue will open with the following options: analyse, bookmarks and notes. If you have more than one Bible installed, you can execute a version to version comparison of a selected verse, switch to commentary or other resources, add bookmarks and notes from the same menu.

As a scholarls tool, Mantis Bible Study has nothing against it except the platform itself. If you are used to books and a spreading desktop of manuals, papers and piles, then compiling your workspace into a tiny 480*320 handheld screen may be difficult. However, if you are used to using a computer and Bible Software as your main resource for Bible studies, then the Mantis Bible Study may be a great substitute for your indoor workspace.

My father, a minister and missionary of more than 40 years’ experience is the former. As a primary reference tool, Mantis Bible Study is incredible however, it won’t replace a pen, paper and many open books for those who like him or me, prefer to lay into paper rather than tap at a screen. The Bible is not a page-by-page book. Like a dictionary, there is much inspiration on each page – but with digital apps, you are limited to one page at a time. While this is fine for hobby reading, deep study may be hampered without print versions.

However, as a secondary tool for your work or and one of a group of primary tools, Mantis Bible Study is incredible. It lacks nothing, is smart, constantly updated and operated by a staff who implement customer requested changes into their updates.

For Your Personal Walk with God
Similar to my conclusions about the scholar, using an electronic Bible in the place of a printed one is a personal decision. Devotions are amazing. With the ability to switch versions, perform searches and read from scheduled reading plans, the Mantis Bible Study software can greatly impact an individual’s quiet time. Of course, you can download devotionals and other materials to help out if that is what you need. However, writing in the margin and clipping pieces of other articles is not possible. Personally, using Mantis was more enjoyable than reading from one book as it opens up so many more possibilities and inspiration.

As with any software, there are bugs in the interface and performance tweaks that are as of yet, unrealised. However, Mantis Bible Study is as peerless as Enfour’s dictionaries in iPhone Bible Software. Free at its core with good functionality, it harbours space and power for so much more. If you need a mobile Bible powerhouse, look no further – Mantis Bible Study is the only step you need to take. However, replacing printed text with ones and zeroes, a glass face and cold metal or plastic is a very personal decision that not everyone will be able to make lightly. As I mentioned, for personal use, I much prefer the flexibility Mantis Bible Study brings, however for study, I need paper and a huge desk. By all means, download the free app, spend some time and make the decision for yourself.

Mantis Bible Study gets Kissed by TouchMyApps.


App Summary
Title: Mantis Bible Study (V 4.0) Developer: Mantis Bible Company
Price: Free, but upgradeable via Mantis’ site. Reference prices vary. App Size: 6.1 MB for free app. Individual references come in varying sizes.
  • Easy to learn interface
  • Nearly limitless download resources available.
  • Effectively can replace whole libraries but is still pocketable.
  • Easy to compare, contrast, search and use resources.
  • Some interface elements are poorly spaced.
  • Some loading times are long


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