Pinyin Typist Title

Quickly and easily type
real Pinyin text with tone marks
to write down anything you hear or want to say
in Mandarin, just about
anytime, anywhere

App Store Badge

*** A beautiful, fully iOS 7-compatible update is coming soon! ***
*** It’ll be free to existing users! ***
Meanwhile, the current version can type Pinyin in iOS 7.


Pinyin Typist is noticeably
the quickest, easiest, most natural, most fun, and
most beautifully iOS-native way
to type exactly the Pinyin you want,
with proper diacritical tone marks,
on the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch.

Its nice, big tone mark, Ü,
hyphen, and apostrophe buttons
work with just a simple tap, and it even
puts the tone marks over the right vowels for you
.
Pinyin Typist turns typing Pinyin
from a pain into a pleasure.

Note: Pinyin Typist 2.2 is now live on the App Store. It adds smoother, better-looking text (especially on non-Retina displays like that of the iPad mini), iPad Retina graphics, full iOS 6 compatibility, full iPhone 5 display support, etc. Also, Pinyin Typist is now available at a lower price.

For tweets on Pinyin and the post-PC revolution:

☞ Contents, Overview...

Pinyin Typist screenshot: “Nǐhǎo”, keyboard

Screenshot: With just a simple tap, Pinyin Typist automatically puts the tone mark over the correct vowel; the vowels with Pinyin tone marks; Avenir Next font

Screenshot: “Nǐhǎo” in Pinyin and characters, with keyboard (landscape orientation)

Screenshot: Email directly from Pinyin Typist

Screenshot: Under iOS 5 and later, tweet directly from Pinyin Typist

Screenshot: Formatting with Markdown, HTML, CSS, etc. code; HTML emails

Screenshot: “Nǐhǎo” in Pinyin, characters, and English; Pinyin Typing tab view menu; Settings: Night Theme, Avenir Next font

Contents

Overview

With Pinyin Typist on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can quickly and easily type real Pinyin text with tone marks to write down anything you hear or want to say in Mandarin, just about anytime the need arises or inspiration strikes. It even puts the tone marks over the right vowels for you. Pinyin Typist is thus a must-have app if you are learning or teaching Mandarin, or if sometimes you want 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.)

Pinyin (Pīnyīn/拼音) 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 Pinyin 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 Pinyin works well as a pronunciation aid, that’s not all it is—like Chinese Braille (which is based on Pinyin), Pinyin linguistically qualifies as and works well as a full writing system for Mandarin.

“One of the basic assumptions of modern linguistics...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 Pinyin 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, Pinyin frees and empowers us to focus on communicating in Mandarin.

More and more people are striving to learn and use this beautiful and widely spoken language, and Pinyin is truly a very powerful supercharger of their efforts to do so. However, because of its dastardly, diabolical diacritical tone marks, many have also found Pinyin to be a real pain to type into their computing devices.

Because of that, and because Apple does not give third-party developers the option of installing international keyboards on iOS, Pinyin 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 Pinyin you want, with proper diacritical tone marks, on the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch. It turns typing Pinyin from a pain into a pleasure.

After typing some Pinyin with tone marks (and whatever else iOS’s international keyboards let you type) in the Pinyin Typing tab view of Pinyin Typist, you may then

  • copy it with the touch of a button (or in the usual iOS way) and paste it in another app, such as Skype, Twitter, Messages (with iMessage), Pages, Elements, etc.,
  • save the text as a snippet,
  • email it (using formatted HTML email), or
  • tweet it (requires iOS 5 or above).

Note: Pinyin Typist can also be used to type Cantonese Yale romanization, as explained below.

What Some Have Said About Pinyin Typist

Here are some comments about Pinyin Typist from experts and happy users:

“Congratulations for an excellent and *very* useful piece of work.”
—Marjolein Hoekstra, on Quora

“There is now an app which makes it really easy to type Pinyin on iOS devices and then email the result or copy/paste it to other apps” “Nice work!”
—Tom Gewecke of Multilingual Mac, here and here

“Pinyin Typist works even better as an app rather than an input method.”
—John Pasden of Sinosplice, ChinesePod, and AllSet Learning, in this post

“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.

“If you have a need to type Pinyin on iOS, it’s the way to go.”
—Taffy of Tailingua, on pinyin.info

Good App! ★★★★★
Is helping me to take notes in pinyin while learning basic Chinese. Would recommend!
—emrys52, user

Does exactly what I need it to do ★★★★★
I use this app to type out Mandarin speeches in pinyin. Works perfectly for my needs.
—lechuan8, user

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.
—Garycy, user

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!
—Joaozhino35, user

“This app is hands down the best way to type in Pinyin.”
—azmenak, user

“This is a very fast way of creating Pinyin text. And the font size slider is actually a nice feature. Worth the price.”
—KomodoVan, user

“I love it!”
—Eunice, user

“What a fantastic app. Thanks so much. I love it!!!”
—SG, user

“My life saver: the Pinyin Typist app”
—Pramesti, user, on Twitter

How to Type Pinyin in Pinyin Typist

In the Pinyin Typing tab view of Pinyin Typist, to type a vowel with a Pinyin tone mark over it,

  • simply type the basic vowel,
  • then tap the appropriate tone button above the regular keyboard to add the desired tone mark.
    • Note: Used this way, Pinyin Typist can also be used to type Cantonese Yale romanization, as explained below.

Or, you can

  • type the basic vowels of a complete, valid Pinyin final,
  • then tap the appropriate tone button above the regular keyboard.
    • Pinyin Typist will then automatically add the corresponding tone mark above the correct vowel of the Pinyin final.

Pinyin Typist can convert both lowercase and uppercase vowels, and it has dedicated Ü, hyphen, and apostrophe buttons. All the Pinyin Typist toolbar buttons enter typographically correct Unicode characters.

  • The hyphen button enters Unicode character U+2010 (HYPHEN).
    • If this character isn’t supported by the font used where you paste text copied from Pinyin Typist, just use the hyphen-minus button on the regular keyboard instead.
  • The apostrophe button enters Unicode character U+2019 (RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK).

Here are some examples:

  • To type a third tone “a” (“ǎ”),
    • just type an “a”,
    • then tap the 3 button above the regular keyboard to add the third tone mark.
  • To type a fourth tone “ai” Pinyin final (“ài”),
    • you can type “ai”,
    • then tap the 4 button above the regular keyboard.
      • Pinyin Typist will then automatically properly add the fourth tone mark above the “a” instead of the “i”.
  • To type a second tone “Ü” (“Ǘ”),
    • just tap the Shift button, then the U button, to type a “U”,
    • then tap the Ü button above the regular keyboard to add the two dots (known as the trema),
    • and then tap the 2 button above the regular keyboard to add the second tone mark.
  • Here are some examples of the diacritical tone marks produced by Pinyin Typist’s tone buttons that can be used for Cantonese Yale romanization:
    • 1 button: ā
    • 2 button: á
    • 4 button: à

To change a previously typed regular vowel into a Pinyin vowel, just move the insertion point to the immediate right of that vowel, then tap the appropriate tone button above the regular keyboard.

If a hardware keyboard is connected, the onscreen keyboard does not appear during typing, so at such times the Pinyin 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 Pinyin 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.

Other Features

  • Pinyin Typist can be used in both portrait and landscape orientations.
  • The default theme text has been optimized to look better and smoother, especially on non-Retina displays like that of the iPad mini.
  • The size of the text in the Pinyin Typing tab view can be quickly and easily adjusted with a slider. This can make it easier to read, either for yourself or for someone else to whom you want to show it. This ability is especially important considering how small the Pinyin diacritical tone marks are.
    • Teachers and others can use this feature along with video mirroring or AirPlay Mirroring to use a television or a projector to show custom Pinyin text to an entire roomful of people at once, while making sure they can make out the Pinyin tone marks clearly.
  • All the text in the Pinyin Typing tab view can be copied to the clipboard at the touch of a button, or portions of it can be selected and copied to the clipboard in the standard iOS way. The copied text can then be pasted into any app that supports the standard iOS method for pasting text, such as Skype, Twitter, Messages (with iMessage), Pages, Elements, etc.
  • At the touch of another button, all the text in the Pinyin Typing tab view can be inserted directly into an email.
    • Pinyin Typist sends emails in HTML (web) format. Thus, HTML code and CSS code in the text are rendered like they are in web browsers, enabling you to put formatting in the emails that’s like the formatting seen in web pages—bold, italic, colours, font settings, headings, bulleted and numbered lists, links, etc. (More information about producing formatted Pinyin text can be found below.)
  • When running on iOS 5 or above, a button is available for tweeting the text in the Pinyin Typing tab view.
  • iOS’s international keyboards, including the Chinese ones, can still be used in the usual iOS way. Thus, Simplified or Traditional Chinese characters and text of other languages supported by iOS (English, Spanish, etc.) can be entered in the Pinyin Typing tab view along with your Pinyin text.
  • The text in the Pinyin Typing tab view can be saved as a snippet for future use, with a title that you can choose. When a snippet is reloaded into the Pinyin Typing tab view, its text size is restored along with its text. The text of a snippet can be copied to the clipboard, and its title and its text can be shared via HTML email. Also, when running on iOS 5 or above, the text of a snippet can be tweeted.
    • A quick way to load a snippet into the Pinyin Typing tab view is to double tap it in the Snippets tab view.
  • In the Settings tab view:
    • You can set the Night Theme, which changes the text and background colours to be easier on the eyes (especially at night) and easier on the battery.
    • You can select a different font for the Pinyin Typing tab view, for those times when you want to explore beyond the default font.
      • All font choices have been tested to ensure the proper rendition of the Pinyin vowels before being made available.
  • Pinyin Typist supports multitasking. You can switch to another app, and then you can switch back to Pinyin Typist and pick up right where you left off. Even if it gets shut down, Pinyin Typist remembers what you were working on in the Pinyin Typing tab view and restores it the next time it is started. Even the text size is restored.

Pinyin Text With Formatting

Pinyin 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:

  • bold
  • italic
  • colours
  • font settings
  • headings
  • bulleted and numbered lists
  • links, etc.

Below are some simple code examples. (The onscreen keyboard buttons for the special symbols can be accessed using the .?123 / 123 and #+= buttons.)

Result Markdown HTML
bold **bold** <b>bold</b>
or
<strong>bold</strong>
italic _italic_ <i>italic</i>
or
<em>italic</em>
bold italic **_bold italic_** <b><i>bold italic</i></b>
or
<strong><em>bold italic</em></strong>

(For more information on how to use such code for formatting, check out the following links: Markdown; HTML; CSS.)

One way to take advantage of HTML and/or CSS formatting code is through the HTML emails that you can send from Pinyin Typist, as noted above:

  • In Pinyin Typist’s Pinyin Typing tab view, type Pinyin text along with whatever other text you want to type using iOS’s international keyboards, incorporating HTML and/or CSS formatting code where you want formatting to be.
  • Then, tap the button at the top right and select Email text.
    • The HTML and/or CSS formatting code will be rendered in the resulting HTML email.

(Actually, entire web pages with their various kinds of formatting could be written using Pinyin Typist, since web pages are made up of HTML and/or XHTML code, and perhaps CSS code.)

Another possible workflow, using Markdown code, could be:

  • In Pinyin Typist’s Pinyin Typing tab view, type Pinyin text along with whatever other text you want to type using iOS’s international keyboards, incorporating Markdown formatting code where you want formatting to be.
    • Thus, you can indicate formatting as you write, instead of having to remember where you want formatting to be and then adding it manually later in another app, like Pages.
  • Copy what you typed in the above step to the clipboard, perhaps using the convenient Copy button at the top left.
  • Paste it in an app that supports Markdown, e.g. Elements.
  • If you paste the text to Elements, you can preview the Markdown code output there. You can also use Elements’ Export feature to produce an equivalent HTML file (in other words, an equivalent web page).
  • You can then take that HTML file (web page) and view it in a web browser or in a web view in an app like GoodReader. You can also convert that HTML file’s output into a PDF file, print it out on paper, etc. The formatting you indicated with the Markdown code you incorporated in Pinyin Typist will be rendered.

System Requirements

As a universal app, Pinyin 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. The split keyboard and other features of iOS 5 and above are supported.

Education Discount

Educational institutions can get a 50% discount off the price of Pinyin Typist in quantities of 20 or more. For more information, go to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program page.

Feedback and Support

If you have some nice things to say about Pinyin 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 support@troubadourworks.com.

Click or tap on this button to follow TroubadourWorks on Twitter, for tweets on Pinyin and the post-PC revolution:

Click or tap on this badge to go to Pinyin Typist’s Facebook page:

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Enjoy using Pinyin Typist!

iPhone / iPod touch Screenshots

iPad Screenshots

Produced with Pinyin Typist:
“Why Chinese Is So…Hard” by David Moser—Pīnyīn Version

Twitter Pinyin Tone Marks Search Test Results

Copyright © 2011–2012 · Wayne Wong · All Rights Reserved