Rikai for Android! Substitutes for Rikaisama / Rikaichan / Rikaikun

The biggest problem of doing anything Japanese related on Android is the lack of Rikaisama.

Not only can’t you instantly look up words as you browse the Web the way you can with Rikaichan, but you can’t turn new words into Anki cards with a single keypress the way you can with Rikaisama. Ok, we’re spoiled by the Rikai family, but we’d like to stay spoiled, even on Android.

Enter the Popup Japanese Dictionary  by Nifty Gnomes which was kindly introduced to me by Sadolit-san (see comments below).

This little-known free app amazingly brings Rikai-like functionality to your Android device – and not only in your browser. Wherever you can use the copy function you can use the Popup Dictionary for on-the-fly kanji-readings and word definitions.

Like Rikai it deconjugates words for you, though apparently this function is a bit hit-or-miss.

The biggest problem for me is that there are no Japanese-Japanese definitions and neither can you turn off definitions. As I like to stay in all-Japanese as much as possible this is a drawback, but for a lot of users it should be ideal

What it doesn’t have, however, is the  the Rikaisama direct-to-Anki function.

But it is possible to get something close to it with a free app named simply Jisho. For those wanting a J-E dictionary this is just about perfect. It has everything you might need including kanji lookup.

And for Anki you just need to press and hold a definition and it gives you the option to export it to Ankidroid (so long as that is on your device too). Select that option and you’re done. You have an Anki card ready-made.

So why do I say it is only “close to” the Rikaisama function? Well, for one thing there are no sound files, and more importantly, this is only a Japanese-to-English dictionary.

If your Anki set-up does not extensively use sound (mine does) and if your definitions aren’t primarily Japanese to Japanese (mine are) this Android dictionary app probably covers all your Japanese dictionary needs – at no cost! However J-J Dolly is still pining for her pasokon!

The app just goes by the generic name of “Jisho” so I am reproducing the logo here, to make sure  that you can find the right one.

For Japanese-to-Japanese dictionaries, the best free one I have so far found is the Weblio app. Not as good as Jisho and of course does not have the direct-to-Anki function or the on-page pop-up function, but is a usable and free J-J dictionary.

Android Text-to-Speech in Japanese

Since typing on Android and other mobile devices is a pain in the petunia, I have also been experimenting with Google Speech-to-Text. I am finding that it works fairly well.

Actually it is very clever. Most of the time it knows when I am speaking English and when I am speaking Japanese and transliterates my speech accordingly. However, in both languages it does make quite a few mistakes. It probably is fairly good for training one to speak clear Japanese (and clear English, come to that!)

An interesting note for those who still pronounce katakana-ized from-English words half-way as if they were still English words and think that is ok. On Android’s Google Search function I tried the experiment of saying:

“Smile Precure”

It correctly transcribed the words and then popped up a page of English-language results about Glitter Force (the unfortunate English language version of Smile Precure), introduced by an English-speaking synthesized voice.

I then tried saying.

(Sumairu Purikyua)

Google search correctly transcribed the words in katakana and popped up a page of Japanese results about the real Smile Precure introduced by a synthesized Japanese voice.

So yes. Speaking katakana correctly does matter. Even an Android can tell the difference.

4 thoughts on “Rikai for Android! Substitutes for Rikaisama / Rikaichan / Rikaikun

  1. The most useful Android app for me is definetly Popup Japanese Dictionary. It works just as Rikaikun – you copy word, popup appears with definition and prononcuation.
    You can use it with Google Books too (which supports vertical text and epubs).

    1. Thank you so much for posting this. It is a really useful app. I know many people have been looking for a rikaichan/rikaisama substitute for Android.

      It is good that it also deconjugates on the fly which nothing else does except the Rikai family.

      Unfortunately there are no Japanese-Japanese definitions and you can’t even turn definitions off which does limit its usefulness to me and others who try to stay in all-Japanese as far as possible. However a semi-workaround is that you can make the Romaji text pretty small so that you can easily avoid reading it and use the app primarily as on-the-demand furigana (which I prefer to always-visible furigana).

      Again, thank you so much. I think this is so important that I will add it to the main article when I get the time. Naturally I’ll credit you for it!

      If anyone else has useful Android apps, please let us know here.

      1. Yeah, it’s like no one knows about this one. I saw someone mention it on reddit like it’s not a big deal sometime ago.
        It does have quite a lot of limitations, and conjucations parsing is quite bad: today it could not parse a ている verb. Still better than nothing, though~
        I didn’t thought about the font size, that’s pretty neat idea, actually!

  2. It’s definitely a big deal and I think posting it here will help a lot of people out – and the makers of the app too. I’m going to redesign this page to give it prominence.

    I haven’t tried it out much yet but I’d say that even with limitations it’s going to make Android a lot more usable for Japanese learners.

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