There haven’t been any new reviews for this site for quite some time. The decline in newly posted reviews coincides with my personal shift from using the OS X flash card program iFlash to using Anki, which is now my flashcard application of choice. I do hope to continue posting reviews here from time to time as I explore the new offerings that are out there, but I predict two busy years ahead of me finishing my PhD dissertation.
In a previous review of Anki, I had a number of critical things to say about the cross-platform application. However, I eventually came to realize that the only true advantage I seem to gain from using iFlash (a review of which I never completed for this site, out of a desire to wait for certain updates) were certain conveniences of the interface and its elegant Mac like feel.
Interfaces are important because they define the relationship between a user and his or her interaction with data. When done well, they also provide a sense of consistency which allow users to quickly and easily access the features that are useful to them but also create an enjoyment in the use of an application that bring users back again and again. Given the fact that, as a fully cross-platform application Anki must always make certain sacrifices in this regard and that it continues to have areas that might be seriously improved, I believe there will always be, at least in the OS X environment, a range of other flashcard applications which will appeal far more to a user at first use than what they are faced with when they first open the Anki application.
However, my reason for posting this entry today is to make and support the claim that Anki is currently and without question far ahead of all of its competition, at least in the OS X environment that I’m familiar with, as a powerful spaced repetition flashcard application.
I feel the need to post this entry because I’ve been sent a lot of e-mails by various students wanting me to stake a clear position on what I believe to be the current leading application. While the reviews on this website seem to be useful to many, the various advantages and disadvantages I have listed for each application in my various reviews seem to have left many newcomers to the world of spaced repetition and interval study in a flash card environment wondering what ultimately they ought to use.
So, for the record, after having looked at dozens of flash card applications on multiple platforms, many of which I have not had the time to review fully on this website, I am happy to recommend, without reservations, that’s serious students, especially of language study, take a good hard look at the open source and freely downloadable application Anki which is available for OS X, Windows, and Linux operating systems. I believe that given a little bit of initial effort in becoming familiar with the application and getting your data into the program either by direct input or through various import methods Anki provides the best solution for long-term memory management of large quantities of small atomic units of information. I am happy to endorse another application at some later date, and will continue to keep my eyes open for what is out there, but at this time, no other application, at least on the OS X platform, comes remotely close to Anki in terms of the number and power of features, flexibility in study, or implementation of spaced repetition.
Instead of writing a completely new updated review of Anki, below are listed just a few of the areas where I’ve been particularly impressed relative to the alternatives. Because I believe in the potential for further innovation through a healthy competition between flashcard applications I hope that other developers may consider some of the points below as they develop their own solutions.