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  • Prem Sundaram

Which Anki Flashcards App to Choose?

Updated: Oct 21

Anki flashcard app is both an app and a wider concept. The fundamental Anki algorithm was originally created over 30 years ago and has been built on as well as implemented in many 3rd party app versions - and to be more confusing there are two popular versions available on the internet today - AnkiApp and AnkiWeb. In this article we will try to provide our take on the app and help you decide which Anki is the best app for you for creating and studying flashcards. We will also suggest that there are other apps you might also want to check out.


AnkiApp iPhone
AnkiApp

The answer to 'Is Anki the best?' or 'Which Anki is the best' depends on what you need. If you are looking for an app to memorize a lot of information and you want to use advanced spaced repetition, then both the main Anki apps might be the right flashcard app for you. However, most flashcard apps today offer some form of spaced repetition, and the Anki interfaces in both apps are pretty basic so you may want to look carefully and select an app that suits your real needs. This means evaluating apps like Quizlet and NoteDex (which can do handwriting)


See how to create handwritten flashcards on NoteDex


AnkiApp is one iteration of the software and is highly regarded for the implementation of the original 'Anki' advanced SM2 spaced repetition algorithm. While the interface is basic, the app is seen as one of the best Anki apps in the industry if you need to memorize lots of information like vocabulary or facts as flashcards. As a result, many say AnkiApp is the best app for this use-case but it may not be for you depending on your needs.


AnkiApp is free and open-source flashcard app software which uses repetition - a technique in cognitive science that is useful in fast and long-lasting memory. Other Anki apps like AnkiWeb app also use the fundamental Anki open-source algorithm and is also free. Unfortunately, while they are free it is unclear how often they update or support the apps. Some of the apps may also have a pay-wall depending on which app platform you are using but we were not able to verify that yet.


Anki is fundamentally different than traditional memory retention methods because it uses the science behind increasing retention. The more often you review a piece of information, the more likely you are to remember it in the future. Anki's spaced repetition schedule ensures that you will never forget key information, and in fact that your knowledge will only continue to grow with time.


The algorithm for SuperMemo was developed at the end of the 1980s and is the basis for Anki SM2 spaced repetition. Anki's algorithm implementation was modified to prioritize and display the flash cards based on its need for memory retention. Cards can include text, pictures, and sound clips and even LaTeX math equations in some apps.



What is the Anki SM2 algorithm?

The Anki SM2 algorithm is a machine learning algorithm that helps to identify the optimal sequence of learning cards. It does so by taking into account the cards you have already seen, your current card, and what you know about how long it takes for you to learn each card.


The Anki SM2 algorithm is a nifty way to implement the flashcard algorithm. It was created by Marc Tsurumaki, who worked at Anki before moving on to Uber and Google.

It is a variant of the SM3 algorithm, and it has been shown to be more effective than other algorithms that are currently in use.

Unlike NoteDex, which has a robust - but simpler - card repetition model, Anki is the true king of learning repetition and if you are looking to learn a lot of phrases and words you might want to check it out. If you are creating flashcards, read on!



Key Features about the AnkiApp Flashcard App


anki web interface
Anki Universal for Windows interface - slightly dated

It is used by many medical students, language students and other students needing to create flashcards and memorize a lot of terms. One of it's key features is that it allows maximizing learning through repetition of flashcards (Index Cards).


AnkiApp features a home page or Deck Screen where you can view your study card decks. The decks screen allows you to view and manage your study card decks.

You will find it useful to use Anki without adding additional Anki plug-ins. Anki addons are plugins that allow for an enhanced user experience. Anki add-ons are applications that provides several useful features to those of us who are not aware of them. There are many versions of Anki available, including a free computer program version, an Anki desktop version, and a computer version for Windows/Mac etc.


AnkiApp has a pretty basic/old interface as a fairly simple flashcard app but it is functional as you can see above. This seems to be the case both in the mobile and desktop flashcard versions of the Anki App. The Android version of the Anki App is available via Google Play and the iOS version is available on the Apple App Store.


Newer flashcard apps like NoteDex allow creating flashcards that are best in class for rich content creation, and can create more complex index card style flash cards including handwriting, images, and can be used to do more like planning entire projects. They are also available cross platform mobile and desktop.



NoteDex Index Card Flashcard
NoteDex for Windows Application Interface - A True Index Card View

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Mind and Memory

How do we understand Chinese words? Are these words in Japanese? What Are the Medicines for Us? What is a good topic for learning? In all these cases you will need a flashcard app for studying. Anki uses repetition and algorithms to optimize the learning you do every time you study. When you study, a computer program algorithm will choose the flashcard to be used and will analyze what progress is made to make this decision ongoing. This makes it ideal for learning simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Chinese characters, Korean language, Japanese language and so forth.



Are Anki Flashcards effective?

Even if you have just six minutes to memorize you can learn it yourself! ... In research studies, the effectiveness of an index card with correct repetition has increased from 15 to 100 percent compared with conventional card learning.



Decks Stats and Time Left

With so many index cards accumulating on Anki, it's likely to be a little overwhelming. Anki allows you to plan your own schedules. It gives you information about what time you have done in putting your cards together, and the time you responded to the cards. Therefore, you can deduce vital details from this such as your time invested in preparing a particular set of cards, so that you can later organize your work day and your program for revisions.



Memorize

If you wish to use Anki effectively, the index cards must be practiced daily for several days. You can take advantage of spaced repeatability. Anki helps overcome this problem: you even have the option of rescheduling your card show time to schedule your card for another time frame. So, a card which is supposed to appear within four days will now get reset at the next scheduled date. The card scheduling is part of the Anki SM2 algorithm.


Load Balance

It's great to be able to divide how many cards you need to complete a particular study task. This means that you are rescheduling the cards you'll use in the future based on your maturity level and confidence. As everyone knows, organizing is the key to a successful organization. By using the study mechanism of Anki you can definitely get a good memorization technique going.


Anki Web Add Ons

Depending on which version of Anki you are using, you can get 'Add Ons' that help to expand the function, for example Image Occlusion and Frozen Fields. For a full list of add-ons check out this page: Top 20 Anki Add-ons | Be Even More Efficient! – BritVSJapan


Image Occlusion Enhancements Add On

You can create cards with images obscured in the Anki app. This adds the ability to hide areas of text or images, thus testing yourself on omitted information. This is a useful practice for visual memory - as the hidden word must be replaced with the correct word/image. In anatomic and biochemistry, occlusion pictures can be your best study friend.


Frozen Fields Add On

Having the ability to create a card by yourself saves you time. Frozen Fields feature allows the copying of the cards and their contents into a new card - like a template - so the key fields get copied again - it has a little snowflake to show the field is 'frozen'!


Sound / Audio

Some versions of Anki apps support flashcards with audio. This can be useful for vocabulary learning.



Anki App is a cross-platform mobile and desktop flashcard app.

the Anki App is a commercial product that allows you to learn flashcards during down time. You can create flash cards using texts and images or use the pre-made cards. It provides automatic backup and synchronisation of devices via the cloud.

Is Anki Flashcard app free?

Anki App appears to be free but it is unclear - there are mentions of payment in the app after it is downloaded. The developers of the mobile phone AnkiDroid app decided that this Android-based software was also free of cost. Sometimes the app is free but the add ons are not.



What is the difference between AnkiApp and AnkiWeb app?

This is perhaps what makes using 'Anki' the most confusing, since there is not one Anki Flashcard app. Rather it is more like a concept that has been adopted by various developers trying to leverage the somewhat open source SM2 repetition algorithm. Anki App was created as a clone application from the original. They're entirely separate apps, so can't synchronise the cards between the two. The name of this app is similar to "Anki", which confuses many people who have already tried this software.


To make things more complicated there are all these Anki Flashcard Apps variants:


Each Flashcard app variation tries to do some new things, some to be a complete replacement app, others to do things like offer night mode as an add on. However many of these are just fairly basic flashcard apps, but still they do allow you to create flashcards.



Is Anki Flashcard App free?

Like before, Anki App and Aki Web seem to be free but there may be restrictions depending on platform and version (creator). But initial evaluation says it looks free.

Is Anki the Best App?

Is it true? No. It depends on what you need a flashcard app for. Anki continues to be a most recommended basic flashcard app for studying lots of small information like languages etc. You can definitely create your own flashcards with Anki. There are also lots of Anki add-ons as described above.


But if you need to create your own flashcards, more complex cards, where spaced repetition is less important than the ability to capture notes, use handwriting and images, but still use a powerful Leitner model of spaced repetition, then alternative flashcard apps to Anki such as NoteDex should be looked at.



What is the Best App?

These are great flashcard applications for making and learning flash cards created by other educators including Tinycard, Flashcards Plus, Quizlet.. the list goes on! Additional popular apps include NoteDex, Chegg and Brainscape.

Does Anki work on iPad?

From what we can tell Anki does work on iPad.



Is Anki available for iOS?

Anki iOS app is available for iOS and Mac.



Can AnkiApp Sync Anki?

Some Anki Apps can sync data, especially if they are exported in an Anki export format.

Does Anki work for Languages?

Anki is definitely very popular for learning languages - the spaced repetition helps you to learn lots of short phrases in a short time. Anki is perhaps less well suited to more complex topic flashcards. Better to use an app like NoteDex in that case as a more powerful flashcard app for creating cards with text, ink, pictures and more.


Here is an example of a simplified Chinese flashcard created in NoteDex:


image of chinese flashcard
Simplified Chinese Flashcard Created in NoteDex

Is Anki good for Japanese?

Even though Anki started in Japan, and yes it is good for learning Japanese, it is good for learning lots of things.

Why does Anki mobile cost money?

Anki apps depending on which version can cost up to $25, some apps also require subscriptions. This is normal since the company developing the app does need to maintain staff to update the app.



Why is Anki so expensive on iPhone?

Again, it can be expensive depending on which version you use. Many Anki app variants are available for free but some app features do require payment using in app purchases.

Why is Anki free on Android but not iPhone?

Some developers allow apps to be used on different platforms, and their motivations can be varied. Not all Anki apps are free, even on Android. Some also use advertising to support their development costs.


How to Make Anki Cards With Pictures

Anki has a feature that lets you add pictures to your cards. These images can be any type of image, and you can easily upload them into Anki. You can even take pictures of your desk if you're trying to learn a term by image. But there are some drawbacks to using images in Anki.


First, the number of options on a single card is limited. This limits your brain's potential to learn other possibilities. Second, if you put too many sentences on a single card, it can become overwhelming. Luckily, other apps like NoteDex allow you to create more complex cards with more than one image on a card and more text, and the images can be moved around where you want, not fixed in one place.



Final Words

So, as you can see Anki is a very popular flashcard app and has a lot of power but it can also be overwhelming, confusing and there are many versions out there, with unclear pricing and support. Anki users are very loyal, and it has a wide following with students especially those learning a foreign language.


A good alternative to Anki, which is well supported and where you can use on all your devices is NoteDex. NoteDex is one of the best index cards and flashcard apps out there. In addition to flashcards, NoteDex can be used beyond studying, for example for planning your entire projects or to be used like a corkboard writing app. Come on, you need to plan a party for after your studies finish! NoteDex is like having unlimited paper flashcards in your pocket and all your cards are synchronized on all devices via the cloud.


Example of Flashcard created by NoteDex
Example of Flashcard created by NoteDex with Handwriting

Key Terms



iOS is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

Anki App is product name of ankiapp.com

Anki Web is a product name of ankiweb.net


NoteDex - Make Handwritten Flashcards


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