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iPhone Apps: Thai Language Phrase books

iPhone Thai Language Apps

Considerations for Thai phrase book apps on your iPhone…

UPDATE: A large selection of the apps in this review are no longer online (noted below). An updated series compiled from my GINORMOUS List of iOS Apps to Learn Thai: iPhone, iPad and iPod is on the way. Please stay tuned.

Choosing a Thai language phrase book for your iPhone is similar to choosing a hardcopy Thai language phrase book. But not quite.

For instance: If you aim to go clubbing, the higher Apple ratings may be a draw; if you are not technically savvy, a help file is needed; if you intend on using the iPhone app in Thailand, not being dependent upon an internet connection is a must; and, male or female, you just might find that sound files with polite particles to match are an attribute to be considered.

For more: If you are a first time tourist or expat new to Thailand, even a brief introduction to Thai culture will be important to you (at the very least, advice on manners typical to Thailand should noted somewhere); if you are a Thai language learner, a wee section on grammar is helpful; if you intend on getting additional help from Thais or would like to play ‘guess the menu’, Thai script could come into it; if you have a Thai partner with poor eyesight, the size of the Thai script is bound to come into it too.

And for all you design lovers out there… there is still that oh my

Note: At the time of this review, an iPhone app for zooming when inside other apps was not available. When it does launch (there is an open proposal to do just that) I will amend this post.

The criteria I used for this iPhone Thai phrase book review…

  • Target market: Is it for tourists, expats new to Thailand, or Thai language learners?
  • Phrases and vocab: How many phrases does it have? Does it include vocabulary too?
  • Information: Are there tips on the Thai language and culture?
  • Sound: Who is doing the talking? Male, female, or both?
  • Thai script: Is the Thai script too small to read or just right?
  • Transliteration: Does the transliteration style have tone markers?
  • Internet connection: Will you need to make adjustments for roaming costs?
  • Overall design: Is the navigation easy, or are you clicking on bits going nowhere?
  • Design style: Does it add or subtract to the experience?
  • Search: Are you able to search for a word or phrase?

Apple apps iPhone ratings…

New to me are the iPhone ratings (Richard from Lingopal opened my innocent eyes to this one). I’m lazy (and this review is hours overdue), so I snagged the below list from Wikipedia: App Store.

  • 4+ Contains no objectionable material.
  • 9+ May contain mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and infrequent or mild mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.
  • 12+ May also contain infrequent mild language, frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes, and simulated gambling which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12.
  • 17+ May also contain frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; plus sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17. Consumers must be at least 17 years old to purchase apps with this rating. Whenever an app of this rating is requested for download, a message will appear, verifying if you are 17 and asking to confirm the purchase for this reason.

Thai language iPhone phrase book review…

As previously mentioned: A given, with people having different wants and needs, personal opinions on phrase books will be all over the place.

The personal opinions below (cacca or otherwise), are mine.

English-Thai Talking Travel Phrasebook

English-Thai Talking Travel PhrasebookEnglish-Thai Talking travel phrasebookEnglish-Thai Talking Travel Phrasebook
Price: £1.79 | US$2.99
Author: Lingvosoft
Date: 14 Sept 2009
Version: 1.0.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 14,000 words and phrases
Transliteration: No
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Thai male, Western male.
Zoom for Thai script: No
Search: Yes
Other Thai-X Phrase books: Russian, Polish, French, Spanish, German.

Apple rating: 12+ for the following: Infrequent/mild mature/suggestive themes and infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug use or references to these.

Overview: This is a dual English-Thai / Thai-English phrase book with sound for both. In the preferences you can set the display language to English, Russian, Italian, French, and Spanish, but the sentences and sound remain Thai and English. Sections include: Phrases, learning, you may hear, useful words. Very handy, on some phrases you can click the underlined text (Thai script or English) to get additional words to use with the phrase.

Possible negatives: Sometimes it takes more than one tap of your finger to hear the sound. In the learning section the Thai script is larger but has room to be larger still (larger Thai script will be useful for some). There are no instructions for the learning section (needed). The speech recognition did not work for me (came back with odd phrases). There are no polite particles in the phrases. A brief explanation of the Thai language and culture would be useful.

Categories:
Basics, traveling, hotel, local transport, sightseeing, bank, communication, in the restaurant, food and drink, sopping, repairs / laundry, sport / leisure, health / drugstore, beauty care, calling for police.

iParrot Phrase English to Thai

iParrot Phrase ThaiNo longer online
Price: £2.99 | US$4.99
Author: vAccessory
Date: 11 June 2009
Version: 1.1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 0 words and 322 phrases
Transliteration: No
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material.

Overview: This is a simple to use iPhone app. In the catalog, select from any of the 20 subjects then select your phrase of choice. Clicking on the sound icon gives you a clear, slow Thai voice (excellent for newbies to the Thai language). The forward and back arrows take you to more phrases in the list.

Possible negatives: The Thai script is small and you cannot zoom in (on an iPhone screen, even Thais will have a problem when trying to read in a reflecting light situation). There is enough room to enlarge the Thai script, so hopefully in the next version they will make it so. It would save clicking time if there was a button link to the catalog list on each phrase list page. There are no sounds for the polite particles (they can be found in Thai script only). There are no instructions, no search capabilities, and no explanation of the Thai language and culture (brief or otherwise). And there is certainly enough room for all…

Categories:
Greetings and farewells, thanks, introduction, seeking help, asking for directions, correspondences, dinning, shopping, hotel, entry and exit, transportation, bank, hospital, Post Office, the hairdressers, at a laundry, weather and seasons, time and date, sports, entertainment.

iParrot Phrase Thai to English

iParrot Phrase ThaiNo longer online
Author: vAccessory
Price: £2.99 | US$4.99
Date: 12 September 2009
Version: 1.1.5
Size: 7.8 Mb
Word / phrase count: 400 travel phrases

Overview: This is the Thai-English version of the above app. I’m including this iPhone app because it could be helpful for a Thai spouse learning English. Ditto the above comments.

iPoodThai

iPoodThaiiPoodThaiiPoodThai
Price: £1.79 | US$2.99
Author: Franck Blaevoet
Date: 1 February 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 233 words and 276 phrases
Transliteration: Yes (but no tone markers)
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Male and female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No (not needed)
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Apple rating: 12+ for the following: Infrequent/mild mature/suggestive themes and infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug use or reference to these.

Overview: A lot of local thought went into this English to Thai talking phrase book as the phrases are typical of what you actually will hear in central Thailand (they are not English/etc phrases translated to Thai). For instance, if you are new to Bangkok and need to tell your taxi driver where you are going, the major attractions are listed. Also useful, you can make a favourites list. The Thai script is fabulously huge so Thai learners will get a lot out of this app, and tourists won’t have a problem if they want ask a Thais to read the word or phrase. Polite particles for male and female are in the basics section.

Possible negatives: There is an excellent fast-scrolling list showing all words and phrases, but there is no search. This app could use a small section explaining the Thai language and culture. This is a sweet app, but adding more words and phrases would make it sweeter still.

Categories:
Basics, transportation, accommodation, restaurant, activities, shopping, nightlife, relationship, money, formalities, emergency, health.

LingoPal Thai

LingoPal ThaiLingopal ThaiLingoPal Thai
Price: £0.59 | US$0.99
Author: LingoPal
Date: 1 August 2009
Version: 1.0.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 900+ phrasels
Transliteration: No
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: Yes
Zoom for Thai script: No (but you have the option of seeing larger script)
Other Thai-X Phrase books: Languages included in the preferences: Afrikaans, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croation, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and LingoPal FLIRTA with all 42 languages (£3.49).

Apple rating: 17+ for the following: Infrequent/mild sexual content or nudity, frequent/intense/mature/suggestive themes and frequent/intense profanity or crude humour.

Overview: When you select a Thai phrase you have the option of making it a favourite, showing large Thai script (excellent), or hearing the selection spoken by a Thai lass. In the settings you can change to your language of choice (see above), male or female.

My favourite? Flirting: Rejection “I need to go back home and turn my kettle off”…

Possible negatives: There are underlines denoting where to fill in a word, so a link to a list of words would be useful. I could not work out what the male and female selection in the settings did. Missing are polite particles, as well as an explanation of the Thai language and culture. Warnings need to be put in place for the insults section (throw some of those phrases at a Thai and at the very least you’ll lose your iPhone). I talked to Richard from Lingopal about the insults and he agreed. Nice. He also pointed out their 17+ Apple rating. Thanks Richard (it was an element I was not aware of at the time).

Categories:
Essentials, numbers, days and time, traveling, where is…, dining, accommodation, directions, shopping, email and banks, making conversation, business talk, emergencies, flirting: 1st move, flirting: conversation, flirting: compliments, flirting: at the beach, flirting: for girls, flirting: for boys, flirting: getting lucky, flirting: rejection, gay, insults: mild, insults: X-rated.

Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Thai PhrasebookNo longer online
Price: £5.99 | US$9.99
Author: Lonely Planet
Date: 9 July 2008
Version: 1.4
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 152 words and 474 phrases
Transliteration: Yes (with tone markers)
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Male and female
Search: Yes
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No. But they do have English to: Cantonese, Czech, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Apple rating: 12+ for the following: Infrequent/mild mature/suggestive themes and infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug use or references to these.

Overview: This is a very simple phrase book. You can view by phrase, or by category. Where necessary, they have male and female voices responding (but mostly male). A help file is included. There is also a Lonely Planet Mobile site, which you can access just by clicking on the Lonely Planet logo at the bottom of each page.

Possible negatives: While there are male and females speaking the same phrases, there are no polite particles. There is nothing to assist with the Thai language and culture. The Thai script is quite small and would be more legible in black instead of blue.

Categories:
Tools, transport, accommodation, communications and banking, sightseeing, shopping, greeting people, entertainment, food and drink, emergencies, health.

PhasaThai

PhasaThaiNo longer online
Price: £4.99 | US$7.99
Author: SANDBOX Co., Ltd.
Date: 11 May 2009
Version: 2.1
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 799 words, 466 phrases
Transliteration: No
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material.

Overview: This is a Thai-Japanese-English dictionary/phrasebook. Sections: Word, phrases, library, settings and info. To use it as a Thai to English phrasebook you need to change the display language (first option) to Thai, the speech (second option) to Thai, the Ruby Language (last option) to English.

My favourite section is Luxury goods: Cigarette, marijuana, opium, cocaine, heroin, coffee, green tea, liquor, beer, rice wine and wine.

Possible negatives: While I did read one kha in Thai script, there are no polite particles (male or female). There is an option to edit, but I haven’t a clue how it works (my bad). There are no instructions. The Thai script is small and you cannot zoom in. There is no search. There is no explanation on the Thai culture and language.

Categories:
Greeting, shopping, meal, hotel, transport, hospital, temple, massage, airport and airplane, telephone, company, emergency, lost way, love, school, quarrel, restroom, thanks, apology, encouragement, blessing, complaint, nightlife, sightseeing, rental car, fastfood, exchange.

PhasaThai Free

PhasaThaiPhasaThai Free
Price: Free
Author:
SANDBOX Co., Ltd.
Date: 23 May 2009
Version: 2.3
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 121 words, 84 phrases

Overview: Smaller version of the above app.

PocketPhrase

PocketPhraseNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | US$1.99
Author: Urban Embassy (no longer online)
Date: 18 March 2009
Version: 1.1
Internet connection required: Yes
Word / phrase count: 50+ phrases
Transliteration: Yes (no tone markers)
Thai script: No
Sound: Female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Apple rating: Not yet rated.

Overview: Click ‘locate me’ or ‘browse’ to chose your language. ‘Locate’ connects to the internet to find where you are (make sure you have GPS positioning turned on). ‘Browse’ lets you select your language from a rolling bar: Arabic, English, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Polish, Thai, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (upcoming languages: Cantonese, Dutch, Hebrew, Malay, and Mandarin). Scroll through 50 phrases. The audio is automatic.

Possible negatives: There can be a long wait between phrases (especially in Thailand) as the app first has to find you, then it has to download audio samples (each time). You are supposed to be able to avoid international charges by setting it to memorise favourite phrases, but I could not find that option (blame the Italians). There is no search, polite particles, or advice on the Thai culture or language.

PocketPhrase Lite

PocketPhrase LiteNo longer online
Price: Free
Author: Urban Embassy (no longer online)
Date: 27 March 2009
Version: 1.1
Word / phrase count: 5 phrases

Overview: This is a sample app of the full version (above).

Survival Phrases: Thai

Survival Phrases ThaiNo longer online
Price: £11.99 | US$19.99
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Released: 25 March 2010
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 60+ phrases
Transliteration: Yes (no tone marks)
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: Yes
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Effortlessly learn from a bi-lingual and bi-cultural host and 60 short audio lessons
Access and read all 60 Lesson Write Ups while you listen
Learn local secrets from over 100+ Quick Tips on travel, customs, and etiquette
Quickly access all of the essential phrases and vocabulary covered in each lesson
Instantly search everything above with an easy to use advanced search function

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material.

Overview:
This is an iPhone version of their Thai course I reviewed here: Free Thai Lessons at Survival Phrases. The original course is created around 60 lessons, but on the iPhone version you are given 7 categories.

Once inside the lessons, across the top left of the nav is the title of the category, which takes you back. To the right is an information icon that takes you to a well-written help file. Below is a selection of lessons (phrases). At the bottom of the screen you get an about and search icon.

Some lessons are divided into Write-up, Quick Tip 1, Vocabulary and Phrases, and the sound controls. Others are missing the tips. The sound controls stay visible all the way through, so you can listen to the lesson at any time. In the write up the lesson is explained using transliteration, but no Thai script. Beware as there is no breathing space in the copy so reading is a slog to get through. In the tips section you are given cultural explanations. Finally, the vocabulary and phrase section is where you can see each word and phrase with Thai script, romanisation, and the English explanation. The Thai script is a decent size, as is the romanisation. But the romanisation/transliteration is difficult to read because of the overuse of capital letters.

Possible negatives:
The sound files are the same as their previous version. The problem is, they didn’t bother to take off the introductions. For instance, if you start with Home Visit, you first get the announcement ‘Lesson 57’, which is a bit disconcerting. Especially for someone as anal as myself, who must start lessons from A and work to B and finish at Z. Or else.

I paid full whack for this app and as Richard mentioned in his review, for several reasons (be sure to read his review as well) it’s not worth it. If pressed for a choice, I’d get their iTunes/iPod version instead as you also get free pdf downloads to go with each lesson. But I see they are playing silly buggers with their pricing – INSTANT Download: Only $69.98 $29.99 – so hopefully they will notice the complaints piling up as no way is their 60 phrase course worth $29.99 (I paid $25 for the Thai version), let alone $69.98.

This app is buggy and keeps kicking me out, forcing a restart. It may be due to iPhones upgrading to version 4, so I’ll check back when the update comes out.

Categories:
All, asking for help, basic conversation, etiquette, food and drink, shopping, transportation, travel and accommodation.

Thailand2Go Talking Phrase Book

Thailand2GoNo longer online
Price: £14.99 | US$24.99
Author: HNHSoft (no longer online)
Date: 17 July 2009
Version: 1.0.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 64 words 286 phrases
Transliteration: No
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No (not really needed)
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material.

Overview: This program has ten categories and fifty subcategories. The home page starts out with tidy icons. A plus, you can organise words and phrases into a favourites category. Another plus is being able to select a related phrase for some phrases (found next to the ‘favourites’ button). The Thai script is legible.

Possible negatives: Lacking is a search, polite particles, and a guide to the Thai culture and language. While the home page is attractive, the rest of the design leaves much to be desired. The English and Thai script is scrunched to the left against the black border, making it uncomfortable to read. Nothing on the turquoise border goes anywhere: icons, url, and logo.

Categories:
Basic, travel, food, lodging, sightseeing, social, shopping, emergency, business, questions, favourites.

Talking English to Thai phrasebook

Talking English to Thai phrasebookNo longer online
Price: £5.99 | US$9.99
Author: Hanashite.com (no longer online)
Date: 17 January 2009
Version: 2.0.3
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 2,500
Transliteration: Yes (no tone markers)
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Female
Search: Yes
Zoom for Thai script: No
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material.

Overview: At last, an app with a decent help page. You can add, record, edit, and delete your own phrases. You can even add your own topics. Ah, and a search is included too.

Possible negatives: The Thai script is small and there is no way to zoom in. And by now you will not be expecting polite particles, or explanations of the Thai culture and language (there are no changes here). The section titles are odd so perhaps a consideration is in order: Broken intercourse, then when, saying yes or no, eating (eating, eating and drinking, eating and traveling). But I do like: standing up for yourself, how to say NO.

Categories:
Greetings, arguing, at the gas station, breaking up!, broken intercourse, clubbing, come and go, eating, eating and drinking, emotions, expecting a baby, fun and games, getting intimate, getting to know you, health, hotel, how to say no, internal call, language of love, listen and speak, love and marriage, lover’s arguments, postal services, rent a car, saying yes or no, shopping, sightseeing, small talk, socializing, standing up for yourself, student talk, sweet talk, the hospital, the phone, the when, travel (airplane, bus, ship, taxi, train), trouble, your feelings.

uTalk Thai

uTalk ThaiuTalk ThaiuTalk Thai
Price: £5.99 | US$9.99
Author: EuroTalk
Date: 15 June 2009
Version: 1.0.2
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 260 words and 16 phrases
Transliteration: Yes (with tone markers)
Thai script: Yes
Sound: Male and female
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No (not really needed)
Other Thai-X Phrase books: Not needed as there are over 60 languages to chose from in this app.

Apple rating: 12+ for the following: Infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug use or reference to these.

Overview: This is a beautifully designed learning app for beginners of the Thai language. It covers the bare basics of Thai vocabulary, with a few phrases thrown in. The sections include: word practice, easy game, easy game+, and hard game. You can record and playback your attempts at speaking the Thai language. The Thai script is a decent size. In the preferences you can set the volume and chose from 60 available languages, as well as clear your history. The graphics incorporated into the design goes a long way to making this program easy to use. Cheers to their design team!

The Thai language learning app from EuroTalk is quite quite exciting, and has a potential for doing more. And you will hear more about EuroTalk on WLT as they sent their Thai EuroTalk Complete Set to be included in my coming reviews of Thai language courses. Nice.

Possible negatives: There is no search, polite particles, or explanation of the Thai culture and language. The iPhone app icon would benefit if the uTalk logo was added to the design (I keep having to dig around to find it amongst the rest of the icons on my iPhone screen). The uTalk logo on the home page would have a purpose if it went to the uTalk site. I’m a clicker (no surprises there), and when I click near the bottom of the home page I get a white glow. It does nothing else. And lastly, I would love to see more Thai vocabulary and phrases. Yeah, when it comes to a beautiful design, I tend to be greedy.

Categories:
First words, food, colours, phrases, body, numbers, time, shopping, countries.

World Nomads: Thai Phrases

World Nomads Thai PhrasesWorld Nomads Thai Language GuideWorld Nomads Thai Phrases
Price: Free
Author: World Nomads
Date: 11 November 2008
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word / phrase count: 13 words and 23 phrases
Transliteration: Yes (no tone markers)
Thai script: No
Sound: Males (Thai and Australian)
Search: No
Zoom for Thai script: No (no Thai script)
Other Thai-X Phrase books: No. But you can get the same app in Arabic, Dutch, German, Hindi, Lao, Malay, Napali, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Apple rating: 4+ for the following: Contains no objectionable material (Ok, how in the world did they pull THAT off?)

Overview: The language lesson includes a few tips on Thai culture, as well as instructions on the basic polite particles.

Possible negatives: Free or no, with only 36 words and phrases perhaps they could ditch these two phrases (even if they have made them an issue in the lesson): those drugs are not mine, please do not shoot. Thai script is not included.

Categories:
Numbers, introductions, directions and transport, places to stay, travel safely, dates.

Learn Thai on Your iPhone: What’s next…

Apologies, I came back from Italy with food poisoning so I’m running late getting this post out.

When I explained it to my writing coach he came back with, ‘Food poisoning in Italy? That’s pretty unfortunate. It’s like getting coffee poisoning in Brazil or beer poisoning in Germany.’

Yeah. I’m lucky that way.

Edit: And here we have it, a spreadsheet comparing the iPhone Thai Language Phrasebook apps listed in this review…

PDF format 36 kb: Thai iPhone Phrasebook Spreadsheet

Note: Survival Phrases Thai is a new release so is not included in the spreadsheet.

Next up on iPhone app reviews: Thai Vocabulary and Word of the Day.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

32 Comments

  1. Neil Tortorella

    October 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    This is excellent! Thanks so much for the post. I’m going try out some of these. I have a Thai client with a [mostly] Thai staff. I’m sure they’ll come in very handy.

  2. Neil, Excellent. I don’t know of any phrase books with design and print terms, but I’m sure your Thai contact would be happy to share a list of the top ‘need to know’ for the design industry.

  3. Wow, Cat! That is a really comprehensive review of all the iphone apps for Thai language. Must have taken you a considerable amount of time to put all this information together.

    I don’t have an iphone at the moment but I am contemplating getting one when I return to Thailand just because there are many useful apps. Some of these might fit the bill while out and about and still learning the language.

    You knocked it out of the park with this one!

  4. Thanks Talen. It was a long time getting prepared for the iPhone reviews. And if I could figure out how to take photos of each app, they’d be there too (but don’t give up on me yet).

    The more I play with the iPhone, the more impressed I am. Especially now that I’ve found Jazz FM :-)

  5. Catherine it’s very hard to add to Talen’s initial comment, you have put one hell of a lot of work into this one. I commented a couple of posts back that I wasn’t looking to upgrade my phone but a recent chance view of some promotion mobile contracts here in the UK has got me kind of thinking….and it’s the iPhone I’m interested in.

    Temptation and iPhone are walking hand in hand through my mind at the moment with budget and Christmas losing the fight to overtake. I fear being upstaged on a flight to Thailand by some LOS newbie who with his iPhone and iPod has become fluent in the art of Thai. He makes a perfect tonal quip about me and my cartoon books, the whole plane erupts into laughter. iPhone…. very tempting.

  6. Thanks Martin. It was quite interesting to see what the different app designers chose to add to their applications. And I predict that we will see many changes in the coming year.

    If you do purchase an iPhone, download the pdf spreadsheet I put on the bottom of the post. You can always delete what you don’t feel is important for your needs.

    If you don’t purchase on iPhone, well, just like you said, there are always those cartoons :-)

  7. Catherine your iPhone clock is obviously not working because it’s 3-30 in the morning your time and you’re still surfing the net.

    After I posted my original comment I went downstairs and unbelievably there was something on the TV about the iPhone. The gist of it all was that the iPhone was tending to lock or crash due to people downloading too many applications on to it. Apple was mentioned but I couldn’t catch all of it. One or two applications at a time might be best.

  8. Martyn, being up at 4am is a blend of Italian time (still) as well as being an insomniac. It’s a bad combination and I go through this each trip off-station. Getting food poisoning didn’t help either.

    I’m surprised that some iPhones are locking as I lost count after a hundred on my phone. I will keep an eye out for it though.

    And after I get these reviews finished, I’ll take the majority of the apps off, keeping only the best of the best.

  9. Catherine, the design terms in Thai are in the works. I’ll get them to you asap.

    With regard to iphones, they seem to be one of those things you buy and then wonder how you managed your life before it. :-)

  10. Neil, thanks for rounding up those terms for me. That is guaranteed to make an interesting post.

    Agreed on the iPhone. And this from me, who fought so long against using one. This product is just at the beginning of its potential and I’m dying to see what they come up with next.

  11. Cat, this is great! I was just looking through the list of Thai Language apps available for the iPhone yesterday and was amazed that there were so many. Your review really helps to see what is included in each one before buying. I am sure a lot of people will really appreciate that!

    By the way, taking a screen shot on the iPhone is really easy. Just press and hold the “Home” button (the round one on the front at the bottom) and then press and release the “Sleep” button (the one on the top right side) and release. The screen should flash white, and then the screenshot will be in your Camera Roll.

    I share your optimism that these apps will continue to improve. These first generation “electronic phrase books” are cool, but I have a feeling that even better Thai language apps are right around the corner… and I for one can hardly wait! :)

  12. Stuart, that trick is so sweet (thanks!) I will add the screen shots to this post.

    Agreed. There is a lot of room for improvement on the iPhone apps. Writing my reviews, I found it notable that I spent more time on what was missing. But the list and spread sheet topped it off, so there is that.

    Your product would be perfect for an iPhone app. Ok, the iPhone area is quite small so every item (even tiny) needs to have a purpose. But other than paying close attention to space and nav, yours should fit in quite fine.

  13. My pleasure.

    And I am sure you will be hearing more about iPhone apps from a certain “Learn Thai” website soon… ;)

  14. Excellent :-)
    (I was hoping as such)

  15. I actually haven’t looked for this kind of thing at the App Store but I will now. After reading your thorough and professional report, I decided I like the Lonely Planet and uTalk offerings.

    I suppose the best approach, if one needs this kind of help right now, is to buy several offerings. I might even blog on my findings.

    As you will note in my blog link below, I liked your post on the iPhone Thai language apps so much I posted on my blog to blow your horn! Great stuff, Catherine.

  16. Lonely Planet and uTalk are indeed the top of the Thai Language Phrase book apps.

    ‘I suppose the best approach, if one needs this kind of help right now, is to buy several offerings’

    When you do, beware… I am writing a blog post at this moment so please keep your eyes out….

  17. Rick, Apologies, my brain is not functioning and I just noticed the mention of your blog post. Great stuff, and thanks!

  18. Richard (Lingopal)

    October 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Cat,

    Thanks for including us in this very comprehensive post. It’s funny – we’ve been reviewed plenty of times but this is the first time we’ve ever been reviewed alongside our competition.

    A lot of thought and effort went into that. In fact you shamed me into writing a blog myself – about your review

    We will certainly take on board what you have liked and disliked about all the apps when considering future updates. We’ve got a few in the pipeline now which should add to the general appeal and functionality.

  19. Hi Richard, thanks for stopping by. Your review actually had quite a bit more but I cut it down to be fair to the others. And maybe I trimmed it too close…

    Thank you for the heads up on your Italian app. It was perfect timing for my trip to Italy the next day. And it did manage to get a rise from my Italian friend too :-D

  20. Thanks for your review! I’ve been learning Thai for years now and keen to continue. I find it very difficult to find any advanced material for Thai learners and have a feeling most of these apps are aimed towards new learners. Would you recommend any of these apps for someone who can speak/ read and write thai proficiently but still keen to learn more?

  21. Jon, I agree, a great deal of Thai materials target new learners. I believe you will find that the flashcard programs better suited to you as you can add your own vocab and sound.

    iflashcards
    Mental Case (no longer online)
    iFlipr
    Keep Your Word
    prettydarnsmart.com

    You can use your Anki stacks on your iPhone too.

  22. Many thanks for taking the time to do this thorough review of apps for the iphone. We will link to it for sure.

  23. Hi Richard, I’ll be getting on with the rest of the reviews this month (I got sidetracked…)

    Still to come:
    The Thai alphabet
    Thai verbs and nouns
    Thai word of the day
    Thai dictionaries
    Online translators
    Learning Thai with flashcards
    Online Thai learning sites for the iPhone
    Using your iPod files on your iPhone

    Thank you for linking back :-)

  24. I’ve bought a few apps so far and am still trying them out but could you recommend a good Thai / English dictionary with Thai script, transliteration and sound?

    Also anything out there to learn Thai script beyond just the characters, like how to read words and maybe sentences?

    Thanks!
    .-= Joe´s last blog ..A night out in Ratchathewi =-.

  25. Hi Joe, my review of iPhone app dictionaries is almost finalised. Crazy how life in Thailand tends to get in the way of my getting posts out about Thai subjects :-)

    I’ll have a better answer for you then.

    If you want to learn how to read, then books and websites are your best bet. There are Thai phrasebooks for iPhone, but they don’t really teach you to read. I have a list of resources in my post, The Easy Way for Beginners to Read and Write Thai. I’ll be updating it this week to add a few more.

  26. Heads up: I’ve just added a review of Survival Phrases Thai to the above.

    I’ve also updated my iPhone to version 4, so this week I’ll go through the apps to see if they still work.

  27. Another heads up… the iPhone software has updated so I’ll be going through each of the apps in the series to make sure they work like they should. Stay tuned.

  28. Excellent work, Catherine. This is by far the best post I have ever read when it comes to learning a new language in your iPhone.

    I’m not interested in learning Thai though. So I’m learning French! :)

    That is because I’m from Morocco. There we do not only speak Arabic, but also French.

  29. Hi Nabil. Thanks! I’ve done the French route (have a box of books around here somewhere) and found it interesting for the time. But I haven’t been to Morocco (it’s on my list though – I have a looooooooooooong list).

  30. Does anyone know how hard or easy it is to make a flash card app for the iPhone?

    I want to do one for the Thai alphabet, the same as the istudy one, but with all the charachters and vowels. I found their app to be really good and have learnt all the characters they have included but about half of them are missing so would like to have one with all the characthers and vowels.

    Anyone fancy making one?

  31. LearnThai (US$5.99) is primarily what I am using for a phrasebook (beginner; also using TalkingThai dictionary and taking actual classes in Bangkok). The LearnThai material is simple and useful, unlike Lingopal (US$0.99), which is full of amusing but useless phrases. LearnThai also has clear, quality audio and the option to switch between male and female is really useful and well done. The transliteration, however, does not mark tones (but it seems all transliteration systems are just loose approximations anyway, all the more motivation to learn the script quickly). Also, the Nemo app looks quite good, but I didn’t spring for the US$9.99, since I hope that my progress will make phrase books redundant quickly.

  32. Joe – it’s been a few years now and there are finally decent Thai alphabet apps on the market.

    Z – Have you seen my latest list of iOS apps for learning Thai? You can see it here:

    GINORMOUS List of iOS Apps to Learn Thai: iPhone, iPad and iPod

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