Version Reviewed: 1.1.2
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On a lark, I decided to take Japanese this year. So far, so good—but as any student of the Japanese language can tell you, one of the most irritating initial hurdles is memorizing two entirely new alphabets (syllabaries, to be precise): hiragana and katakana. Making flashcards for characters is also so very tedious, which is why I'm very happy to have Real Kana on my iPhone.
Real Kana is an app version of the popular Real Kana website, which drills you on both hiragana and katakana. Just like the web version, the iPhone app lets you choose which characters to study by checking them off in groups of five—so for example, you can test yourself with all the hiragana, or just do the ha-hi-hu-he-ho sequence. You can also pick which typeface you'd like to use, which is a feature I'm deeply grateful for. Once that's settled, you're ready to go!
Practicing is as simple as getting set up. The app displays a character; you type in its romanized equivalent using the ever-present keyboard. If you're stumped, tapping the screen reveals the answer as well as your current record.
I like Real Kana a lot because it's simple and quick. I didn't want to spend time making my own kana cards, and Real Kana allows me to practice both hiragana and katakana regardless of whether I have my textbook or regular flash card stack on me. The interface is sparse but includes all the features you need. It's all in the details, and Real Kana steps out of its own way and just lets you practice. If you're a beginning Japanese student, give Real Kana a go, whether it's on the iPhone or your computer. Either way, you're sure to find it helpful.