23

I have noticed I learn efficiently with flashcards. The basic learning process:

  1. Software shows question (e.g "Flag of Finland?")
  2. User tries to remember the answer ("It's blue with white cross"). This is not entered to the software, only thought.
  3. Software shows the answer (yay, that was correct)
  4. User tells how well he did ("I remembered that correctly, no need to ask it again immediately" / "Didn't remember, ask this again soon").
  5. Go to step 1 with a new question.

The point of using software instead of paper cards is that it allows automatic repetition, random ordering and organizing larger sets of questions ("1000 words in language X").


I'm trying to find flashcard software with following feature set:

  1. Automatic synchronization between devices: both cards and learning status
  2. Android app. Either web or OS X version. Preferably iOS app
  3. Intelligent ordering and intervals for cards. Some apps out there just rotate all cards, while I have found that spaced repetition is a must.
  4. Fast-to-use UI: skipping cards and choosing learning status must be fast and easy. For example requiring choosing actions from menu is not acceptable, but swiping/always visible buttons/tapping is fine.

And preferably:

  1. Statistics for learning progress
  2. Library of ready-made card sets. This really is nice-to-have, as creating cards is not the problematic part.
14

Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program and it should be exactly what you are looking for.

In addition to just text it also supports images and sounds, so if you are studying a language you can add sound so you can hear how words are pronounced, or if you have a "Flag of Finland" question you could have a picture of the actual flag as answer.

... organizing larger sets of questions ("1000 words in language X")

Anki handles large sets of questions very nicely. My personal deck (Anki's term for sets of questions) that I've been building since I started using Anki in 2008 is up at over 11,000 cards and Anki is still very responsive and quick on both Android and Windows.

Automatic synchronization between devices: both cards and learning status

Anki supports synchronization between all supported platforms.

Android app. Either web or OS X version. Preferably iOS app

Anki is available for free (and as open source) on among others Windows, Linux, OS X, Android. There is also a web interface that can be used for any device that can browse the web. For iOS there is a paid version available, but if you don't want to pay for it you can still use the web interface on iOS.

Intelligent ordering and intervals for cards. Some apps out there just rotate all cards, while I have found that spaced repetition is a must.

Anki does spaced repetition.

Fast-to-use UI: skipping cards and choosing learning status must be fast and easy. For example requiring choosing actions from menu is not acceptable, but swiping/always visible buttons/tapping is fine.

The UI is very convenient with easy to press buttons on computers and phones and keyboard shortcuts for computers (press space to show the answer and 1, 2, 3 or 4 to indicate how well you knew the answer).

It's not possible to skip questions, but you can easily show the answer and quickly mark that you didn't know it or that you knew it very well depending on why you wanted to skip the question.

It is also possible to suspend cards if there are some cards that you don't want to see again, but don't want to delete.

Statistics for learning progress

Anki can give you graphical statistics on your past and upcoming reviews

Library of ready-made card sets. This really is nice-to-have, as creating cards is not the problematic part.

Anki have a large library of user made decks (card sets) so you should hopefully find what you are looking for there.

Screenshots

Reviewing on Windows. My deck is using a "three sided card" with the question on top, the answer below that and then finally the pronunciation at the bottom.

Reviewing on Windows

Statistics on Windows

Statistics on Windows

Reviewing on Android. Here is a three sided card in the other direction with question on top, pronunciation in the middle and answer at the bottom.

Reviewing on Android

  • Hmm well I can't figure out how to just give it a try using only the web version without downloading anything. In fact I can't even figure out if that's a supported use case! – hippietrail Mar 12 '14 at 9:32
  • 1
    The web interface is available at ankiweb.net and the front page of that say that it should be possible to create an account there and only use the web interface and nothing else. – nibarius Mar 12 '14 at 9:44
  • 1
    Hmm, silly thing just keeps telling me "Congratulations! You have finished this deck for now." but it never starts any deck for me. Anyway I know this isn't a bug or help forum for Anki, just noting that at least some of its functionality doesn't seem totally intuitive. – hippietrail Mar 12 '14 at 9:48
  • 1
    Yes I agree that some parts of Anki isn't totally intuitive. You can't download a shared deck into the web interface, but I think you should be able to add cards at least (under the ad tab on the top of the page), but I can't confirm it since I don't have an empty account. – nibarius Mar 12 '14 at 10:03
  • 1
    @hippietrail: It would be a honour to have you use Anki/AnkiDroid! I use it to remember city names and common words/signs of destinations I travel to, whatever the language/alphabet/script. It makes it easy to spot the right bus (even if everything is written in Persian), or realize that 軽井沢 is where you are supposed to get off, etc, without having to get your book out of your bag every minute. And of course it helps greatly for communication too. You can review offline, which is great in the plane and during transit. – Nicolas Raoul Apr 16 '14 at 8:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.