iOS app for writing Pinyin with tone marks

Those of you who, unlike me, own an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod Touch may find the new Pinyin Typist Mac application of use.

Taffy of Tailingua had a look at this for me.

I’ve had a play with the Pinyin application and I’m generally quite positive about it. It’s clean, unfussy, and gets the job done. The automatic positioning looks to be flawless (i.e. typing zhuang1 gives you zhu?ng, not zh?ang)…. Overall though I like it, as it does what it set out to do without any showboating or unnecessary steps (excepting apostrophes).

Although I wish the apostrophe and hyphen were right there on the main screen instead of on a secondary one, the program allows people to do what they need to do: type Pinyin with tone marks.

It sells for US$3.99 US$2.99.

[Headline changed from “Mac app for writing Pinyin with tone marks”]

13 thoughts on “iOS app for writing Pinyin with tone marks

  1. Ah, and by the way, it is a ordinary keyboard, so you can also write English, German, French, Arabic, Korean etc. with it (unfortunately Chinese and Japanese don’t work that well…). You can write all your Facebook or Twitter stuff in Pinyin without having to switch the application. So it seems much nicer than Pinyin Typist.

  2. Hi, everyone,

    I’m the creator of Pinyin Typist, and I appreciate the write-up. As mentioned in a previous comment, Pinyin Typist is an app for iOS, the operating system for the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad. It is not an app for the Mac or for any other computing device.

    The Mac program and the Android keyboard app mentioned in previous comments may be great on their respective platforms, but they won’t run on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad! It was specifically because there was no easy way to type typographically correct pinyin on these particular very popular devices that I created Pinyin Typist.

    I have looked into implementing a pinyin keyboard for iOS that would work in any app, but it seems that Apple has not made that option available for developers who want to sell their work in the App Store. So, creating a dedicated standalone app seems to be the best currently available option for enabling quick and easy typing of pinyin on iOS devices, and my goal is for Pinyin Typist to be the best way to type typographically correct pinyin on iOS devices.

    I think it already is that, but to make it even better, I have an update in the works that will add the wished-for dedicated hyphen and apostrophe buttons to the pinyin typing toolbar of Pinyin Typist. Additionally, these buttons will enter typographically correct hyphens and apostrophes, not the compromise ones that computing device keyboards typically enter.

    iOS 5 (, the next version of iOS, is due this fall, and it will make more features possible in iOS apps. Two iOS 5 features that I have learned about so far and that I definitely plan to build into a future version of Pinyin Typist are iCloud integration and Twitter integration. These will add to the things that Pinyin Typist can do with pinyin text. In its current form, it already makes it easy to type pinyin text and then copy it to the clipboard, enlarge it for easy viewing, save it on the device as a snippet, or email it.

    While Apple’s App Store places some limitations on the kinds of software that can be obtained there, one nice feature of it is that anyone who buys an app like Pinyin Typist from there now will be able to download all future updates for free.

    Stay tuned!

  3. Hey there, I wasn’t sure how to contact you, but I was wondering if you could suggest your readers to my new Android application that I just made. It helps students learn Chinese tones by listening to sentences and speaking the sentence back and matching the voices. You can also slow down your voice or the speakers voice to hear the tones more clearly. Also it has a “Learn” section to teach the tones and the rules that go with them.

    If you could suggest it in a blog post, it would help me tremendously with traffic, and it could help the students reading your blog also. It’s a win-win situation :) I hope you will consider it, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Demo version:

    Full version:

    Thank you

  4. I’m happy to announce that Pinyin Typist 1.6 is now live on the App Store! This new version adds the requested dedicated hyphen and apostrophe buttons to the Pinyin Typist toolbar. The price is now $2.99, and any who purchased the previous version will be able to get this update for free.

    Here is the description of what’s new in this update:

    • Dedicated hyphen and apostrophe buttons have been added to the Pinyin Typist toolbar. As with the existing Pinyin Typist toolbar buttons, these new buttons enter typographically correct 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).
    • The Info page has been updated.

    Happy pinyin typing!

    Wayne Wong

  5. The updated version is working nicely, and it’s great to see the developer adjusting the application to reflect user feedback. If you have a need to type Pinyin on iOS, it’s the way to go.

  6. Pinyin Typist version 1.8 is now live on the App Store.

    Here is the description of what’s new in this update:

    • A bug that caused crashing under iOS 5 when any of the Snippets tab view Action menu commands were invoked has been fixed.

    ? BTW, Pinyin Typist works fine with iOS 5’s split keyboard. Note that the split keyboard makes it possible for the Size: slider to be used while the keyboard is on the screen.

    ? Also, in iOS 5, the *Define* menu item for dictionary lookups is made available for recognized selected text in the Pinyin Typing tab view and the Info tab view.

    • The emails sent by Pinyin Typist are now 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

    ? colors

    ? font settings

    ? headings

    ? bulleted and numbered lists

    ? links, etc.

    • The Info page has been updated. Among other changes, it now has navigation links and a new section on *Pinyin Text With Formatting*.

    More information about how to use Markdown, HTML, CSS, etc. code in Pinyin Typist to produce pinyin text with formatting can be found on Pinyin Typist’s official web page under the subheading *Pinyin Text With Formatting*:

    Twitter and iCloud integration under iOS 5 are still planned for future releases of Pinyin Typist. Stay tuned!

    Wayne Wong
    Developer of Pinyin Typist

  7. Pinyin Typist 2.0 recently went live on the App Store:

    This update brings some refinements as well as some big new features, including one that takes advantage of a new provision of iOS 5:

    • The Settings tab view has been added, which enables:

    ? The Night Theme, which changes the text and background colours to be easier on the eyes (especially at night) and easier on the battery

    ? Setting 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.

    • When running on iOS 5 or above, you can now tweet directly from Pinyin Typist.

    ? You can tweet the text in the Pinyin Typing tab view. (The first 140 characters are automatically used.)

    ? You can also tweet the text of a snippet in the Snippets tab view. (The first 140 characters are automatically used.)

    • In the Snippets tab view, the size of the text in the displayed rows of snippets has been increased to make it easier to see pinyin tone marks.

    • The startup images have been changed to use a grey linen textured background.

    The above changes should serve to advance and refine the experience of using Pinyin Typist to quickly and easily type typographically correct pinyin on iOS devices, especially for bigger pinyin typing jobs. At the same time, Pinyin Typist is still nimble and ready for those times when the need or opportunity arises or inspiration strikes, and you must quickly jot down something in pinyin before you forget or the opportunity passes.

    Wayne Wong
    Developer of Pinyin Typist

  8. With the help of Pinyin Typist (, I have completed and proofread a Pinyin version of David Moser’s classic essay “Why Chinese Is So…Hard”. (I made it a family-friendly version.)

    Besides demonstrating that Pinyin is not just a pronunciation aid, but a full writing system for modern Mandarin, this Pinyin work also shows that the natural typing technique used in Pinyin Typist makes it suitable for even relatively long works in Pinyin.

    I emailed a copy of this work to this site’s webmaster, so maybe it will be on one day. Meanwhile, it can be found online at:


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