Pīnyīn makes reading and writing Mandarin Chinese as quick and easy as it ought to be, and Pīnyīn Typist makes typing real, professional-quality Pīnyīn with tone marks as quick and easy as it ought to be. Pīnyīn Typist was the first iOS Pīnyīn typing app, and it’s still the best.
Pīnyīn Typist launches quickly, so with it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can quickly, easily, and naturally type Pīnyīn text to write down anything you hear or want to say in Mandarin, just about anytime the need arises or inspiration strikes.
Pīnyīn Typist’s nice, big tone mark, Ü, hyphen, and apostrophe buttons are all on the main screen, and they work with just a simple tap—no waiting, holding and sliding, or switching keyboards needed. You just type normally and naturally, quickly and easily producing professional-quality, typographically correct Pīnyīn.
Pīnyīn Typist even puts the tone marks over the right vowels for you, and it also lets you correct incorrect tone marks without having to backspace and retype!
Pīnyīn, with its dastardly, diabolical diacritical tone marks, has historically been a pain to type into computing devices. At first glance, it would seem that the way to address this would be to develop a special international keyboard that would work in any app. However, Apple does not allow third-party developers to install international keyboards on iOS. So, Pīnyīn Typist was developed as an app that provides the quickest, easiest, most natural, most fun, and most beautifully iOS-native way to type exactly the Pīnyīn you want, with proper diacritical tone marks, on the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch. It turns typing Pīnyīn from a pain into a pleasure.
With its simple yet powerful and battle-tested design, and with its high-quality, Unicode standard-compliant Pīnyīn output, Pīnyīn Typist is a must-have app if you are learning or teaching Mandarin, or if at times you want to or need to write down Mandarin expressions, but you or the one(s) you’re writing to don’t (or don’t want to have to) know all the Chinese characters involved. (THIS APP IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE WAY TO TYPE CHINESE CHARACTERS—it supports the standard iOS ways of entering characters.)
After typing some Pīnyīn with tone marks in the Pīnyīn Typing tab view of Pīnyīn Typist (you can also paste in Unicode text copied from elsewhere, and you can type whatever iOS’s international keyboards let you type, e.g. Chinese characters), you can then
Note: Pīnyīn Typist can also be used to type Cantonese Yale romanization, as explained below.
Pīnyīn is the official standard of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, the UN, and the ISO for using the Latin alphabet to write Mandarin Chinese. The Pīnyīn system was developed in China by Chinese people, so it is a product of Chinese culture, and it is a part of Chinese culture.
While Pīnyīn works well as a pronunciation aid, that’s not all it is—like Chinese Braille (which is based on Pīnyīn), Pīnyīn in fact linguistically qualifies as and works well as a full writing system for Mandarin.
A Sumerian proverb stated, “a scribe whose hand matches the mouth, he is indeed a scribe”, and Pīnyīn can indeed be used to write anything that can be spoken in Modern Standard Mandarin. So, it qualifies as a full writing system for Modern Standard Mandarin in this fundamental sense, for example.
That Pīnyīn is a full writing system for any and all Modern Standard Mandarin speech means that, in addition to it being correct to say that “Pīnyīn is Chinese” because it was developed in China by Chinese people, it is also quite correct to say that “Pīnyīn is Chinese” in the sense that, even if it isn’t Hànzì (Chinese characters), Pīnyīn is indeed written Mandarin Chinese—it’s not as if Pīnyīn were written English or French or something.
Also, since Pīnyīn is not just a pronunciation aid, but a full writing system, it is not “training wheels”—it’s regular wheels. In contrast, Chinese characters are like non-round wheels—more difficult than necessary. While some may find non-round wheels “interesting”, or maybe even beautiful, much of the time we just need to get from point A to point B as quickly and easily as possible. At times, we may even need to do so to save someone’s life! We can note, for example, that ambulances generally use wheels that are quite round. Similarly, Pīnyīn can help precious communication to flow without unnecessary difficulty.
Practically speaking, we should keep in mind that, as many have found, by investing the minimal amount of time and effort needed to learn and get used to the Pīnyīn system, we will be equipped to always be able to quickly and easily read anything in Mandarin that’s written in Pīnyīn, and we will always be able to quickly and easily write anything in Mandarin using Pīnyīn. In contrast, even those who are fairly familiar with Chinese characters will at times come across unfamiliar or forgotten characters whose meanings and pronunciations they can only guess at. Also, even those who are fairly familiar with Chinese characters will at times be completely unable to remember or figure out how to write a certain character.
Keep in mind also that since, as mentioned above, Pīnyīn is a product of Chinese culture, using Pīnyīn is not an imposition of Western culture—it is an application of Chinese culture! In fact, the Chinese developers of Pīnyīn of their own free will purposely chose to base it on the international Latin alphabet (it’s not just the English alphabet) so that users of Pīnyīn would benefit from its familiarity. The experiences of many, Chinese and non-Chinese alike, have shown that they were right to do so.
“One of the basic assumptions of modern linguistics [the scientific study of language]…is that speech is primary and writing is secondary”. Yes, speech is the foundation on which writing must be built, not vice-versa. (That is just a natural result of the way we are made—our bodies have the built-in ability to produce speech, but writing requires external aids such as pens and paper, keyboards and screens, etc.) Thus, it is very good that the Pīnyīn writing system represents Mandarin speech so straightforwardly and easily, and that it enables us to focus on speech. Yes, while Chinese characters, as beautiful and traditional as they are, demand distractingly large commitments of precious time and energy just for themselves, the Pīnyīn writing system frees and empowers us to focus on communicating in Mandarin.
Communication, after all, is the main and most important purpose of language, and it is the lifeblood of good relationships.
Here are some comments about Pīnyīn Typist from experts and happy users:
“Congratulations for an excellent and *very* useful piece of work.”
—Marjolein Hoekstra, on Quora
“The most efficient way that I’ve seen to get proper tones marks in iOS.” “It is a lot more convenient than the alternatives that I know of (using a character-to-pinyin converter app or website, or using one of several apps that let you pick individual unicode characters).” “I think it’s essential for students and teachers of Chinese, or anyone who works with pinyin in iOS.”
—Lin Ai of 中网 Zhongweb Chinese, here, here, and here.
“Good App! ★★★★★
“Is helping me to take notes in pinyin while learning basic Chinese. Would recommend!”
“Does exactly what I need it to do ★★★★★
“I use this app to type out Mandarin speeches in pinyin. Works perfectly for my needs.”
“Great app for typing pinyin on my iPad ★★★★★
“This is a great app if you want to type your own pinyin words. It’s really easy to use and you can set the correct tones right at your fingertips. I would recommend this to anyone who is learning Mandarin Chinese.”
“Awesome! Zhēn hǎo! ★★★★★
“So easy to work with. ... Super app! Xièxiè. I use it e.g. for my continuous traditional Chinese medical study and work. It saves time and I can focus on content instead of being busy finding the right key(s). Study? Hobby? Mail with Chinese friends? Just enjoy I’d say! ... the flexibility and easy approach this software offers! If you are into Chinese stuff in whatever way, this app is an absolute must have!”
“Hǎo jíle ★★★★★
“I am very happy with this app. Keep up the good work 10/10.”
—Alexanderr H, user
“This app is hands down the best way to type in Pinyin.”
“This is a very fast way of creating Pinyin text. And the font size slider is actually a nice feature. Worth the price.”
“I love it!”
“What a fantastic app. Thanks so much. I love it!!!”
“My life saver: the Pinyin Typist app”
—Pramesti, user, on Twitter
Here are some examples showing how to type vowels with Pīnyīn tone marks in the Pīnyīn Typing tab view of Pīnyīn Typist:
Pīnyīn Typist can convert both lowercase and uppercase vowels, and it has dedicated Ü, ‐ (hyphen), and ’ (apostrophe) buttons that are all on the main screen—no waiting or extra taps are needed to access them.
All the Pīnyīn Typist toolbar buttons enter typographically correct Unicode characters.
Here are some examples of the diacritical tone marks produced by Pīnyīn Typist’s tone buttons that can also be used as the diacritical tone marks for Cantonese Yale romanization:
To add a Pīnyīn tone mark to an existing regular vowel, or to correct a Pīnyīn tone mark that’s showing the wrong tone or that’s over the wrong vowel, just
If a hardware keyboard is connected, the onscreen keyboard does not appear during typing, so at such times the Pīnyīn tone buttons simply appear at the very bottom of the display and continue to work normally.
If you place your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch just above or in front of your hardware keyboard, the onscreen Pīnyīn tone buttons will be fairly close by, not much farther for your fingers to reach than the upper row of number keys on your hardware keyboard.
Pīnyīn Typist produces Unicode plain text, which can be used to produce, among other things, Markdown, MultiMarkdown, HTML/XHTML, and CSS code. When such code is rendered in supporting environments, formatting can be seen that’s like the formatting seen in web pages:
Below are some simple code examples. (The onscreen keyboard buttons for the special characters can be accessed using the .?123 / 123 and #+= buttons.)
|bold italic||**_bold italic_**||<b><i>bold italic</i></b>
One way to take advantage of HTML and/or CSS formatting code is through the HTML emails that you can send from Pīnyīn Typist, as noted above:
(Actually, entire web pages with their various kinds of formatting could be written using Pīnyīn Typist, since web pages are made up of code that is written using plain text, such as HTML, XHTML, and CSS code.)
Another possible workflow, using Markdown code, could be:
As a universal app, Pīnyīn Typist is a single binary that is optimized for your iPad, and also optimized for your iPhone or iPod touch.
iOS 4.3 or greater is required.
Educational institutions can get a 50% discount off the price of Pīnyīn Typist in quantities of 20 or more. For more information, go to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program page.
If you have some nice things to say about Pīnyīn Typist, please leave a positive review for it in the App Store. :-)
However, since app developers have no way of replying to App Store reviews, please email feedback and support questions to email@example.com.
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Enjoy using Pīnyīn Typist!