Ankidroid – Anki for Android, A Great Companion to Learn Anywhere, Anytime

Ankidroid-2-Happy-Chinese-New-YearSpaced repetition software is very effective when it comes to reviewing information you want to remember. In my last post, I have described how to design Anki 2 vocabulary flash cards. While I create most of my flash cards on a PC, I do most of my reviewing on the go – using Ankidroid on an Android phone.

Last month, Ankidroid 2 was released – so once again, users of Android phones and tablets have a great companion to Anki for Windows or Mac. In this post, I am going into what I consider some outstanding features of Ankidroid. I will also briefly describe how to install and synchronize Ankidroid 2 with Anki 2 and share some tips and tricks that work well for me.

Who created Ankidroid and what is it?

Anki (Windows, Mac, and iOS), is a fantastic project and the work of Damien Elmes. Ankidroid has been created and is being maintained by a different group of great volunteers who wanted to bring Anki to Android. It is an open source flash card program and free for everyone to use. Ankidroid employs adaptive spaced repetition and synchronizes flash cards with Anki via Ankiweb (a free cloud service provided by Damien Elmes). Since version 2, media, such as images and sound, are also automatically synchronized via Ankiweb. It is a complete program, allowing users to create decks, create, edit, and review flash cards and include multimedia.

The most notable limitation is that you cannot yet directly design new Anki note types and flash card templates (card types) in Ankidroid. For the design, you have to use Anki. You can however use all note types and templates you have created in Anki directly in Ankidroid (in existing and in new decks).

So, while you can use Ankidroid as a standalone program, it really excels as a companion to Anki.

Installing Ankidroid 2

The following assumes that you are already using Anki 2 and Ankiweb and want to include Ankidroid in your workflow. If you are upgrading from Ankidroid 1/Anki 1, please follow these instructions.

Ankidroid is available in the Google Playstore. After installing the app, it comes with one Default deck:Ankidroid-2-Default

Synching Ankidroid with Anki via Ankiweb

I have already created a complete collection including several decks plus new note types and card types (templates) in Anki 2 and synchronized my collection to Ankiweb.

  1. To download your collection, press the phone’s menu button (on the Samsung Galaxy S3, the left button) and choose “Sync Account”:Ankidroid-2-sync-account-1
  2. In the next step, provide your Ankiweb account details:Ankidroid-2-ankiweb-accountAnkidroid-2-ankiweb-logged-in
  3. Press your phone’s return button to go back to the collection screen, and press the “sync” symbol to download your collection from Ankiweb:Ankidroid-2-download-collection
  4. When the “Syncing conflict” message appears, make sure to choose “Download”:Ankidroid-2-sync-conflict
  5. Confirm that you want to download your collection:Ankidroid-2-sync-log
  6. The complete collection, including all decks has been downloaded:Ankidroid-Collection-decks

My Preferred Settings and some Outstanding Features

Enabling the Whiteboard

Press your phone’s menu button and choose “Preferences” to change the default settings:Ankidroid-2-Preferences

Choose Review, enable “Show Whiteboard” and disable “Monochrome”. This allows you to draw anywhere on the screen when reviewing flash cards:Ankidroid-Preferences-Review

You can use the Whiteboard while reviewing flash cards by switching it on in the upper-right corner. The whiteboard allows you to write anywhere on your phone’s/tablet’s screen. This is very useful when testing yourself on a different script, for example, on Chinese characters:Ankidroid-2-Whiteboard

To clear the whiteboard, press your phone’s menu button and select “Clear Whiteboard”.

Enabling the Zoom Function

Under Preferences->Navigation, check “Enable Zoom”. This enables pinch-to-zoom and also displays zoom buttons:Ankidroid-2-Preferences-Navigation

Use the “Night Mode” to Save Battery Power

Unlike LCD displays, AMOLED displays (such as the one in the Samsung Galaxy S3) consume significantly less power when showing text on a black background because the black pixels are actually turned off. This can reduce the display’s battery consumption by 50% or more.

To save battery power, enable the night mode by opening a deck and checking the rectangle in the upper right corner:Ankidroid-2-nightmode

Insert Media (images and sound files)

In Anki 2, you can add media, such as images, by copy and paste (for example, using Microsoft’s snipping tool) or browsing a folder. Sound files can also be attached by browsing a folder. Unfortunately, Ankidroid doesn’t provide such a convenient way to attach media. For this reason, I create most flash cards that contain multimedia elements in Anki for Windows. Occasionally, you might however want to directly add media in Ankidroid. Here are the steps to accomplish this:

  1. Copy the media files to your Ankidroid media folder. Normally this folder is called “collection.media” and located in your Ankidroid folder (e.g., /mnt/sdcard/Ankidroid).
  2. To attach a media file to your flash card, you have to add html code, respectively a short code.
    For images, write <img src=”filename”> in the field where you want to insert the image.

    For sound, write [sound:filename] in the field where you want the sound file to be attached:
    Ankidroid-2-attach-sound-file
  3. Save your flash card.

When you synchronize the next time with Ankiweb, the media files are also being uploaded to Ankiweb. This concludes our brief tour of Ankidroid.

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve, and 10 February 2013 marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake. Happy Chinese New Year to You. 🙂


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