Top 5 Start-ups Creating iOS Language Learning Apps

The iOS market for language learning software is very competitive. Over $140 million in funding has gone into the top 5 start-ups.

Recently Busuu raised $6.7 million from McGraw-Hill Education. This places them third in funding, far behind DuoLingo and Babbel as show in this table:

iOS App Funding (millions)
Duolingo $83
Babbel $32
Busuu $11
MindSnacks $7.7
Memrise $6.3

Of course h4labs also writes language learning software, and we don’t believe the most money means the best app. In fact, we’re trying to bootstrap our language learning apps into the top 10. Learning a language is difficult and we believe the more tools the better. Please check out our offerings on the App Store and let us know how we can better help you learn your next language:

h4 Spanish LiteSpanish h4 French LiteFrench h4 Italian LiteItalian
h4 German LiteGerman h4 Russian LiteRussian h4 Mandarin LiteChinese

Thermaltake Poseidon Z Keyboard on Mac

Best Buy is having a clearance on the Poseidon Z keyboard, and I’ve been wanting to try out Cherry Blue switches. I think they’re actually the Kailh clones, but for $72 I can live with the small difference. Of course, when I got it home and plugged it in, it didn’t work. The arrow keys, as well as a few other keys, wouldn’t register when pressed. After a quick Google search, I found how to install the proper driver:

Poseidon Z Driver for Mac OS X 10.10/

It did require a reboot. The keys worked but I didn’t have a functioning Command key. I thought the Windows key automatically became Command but it didn’t work so I mapped Alt to Command and Command to Option.


This worked even though my Command key didn’t originally work.   Finally, I’ve got my Blue clicky switches.  Let’s see how other people like them. 🙂




Curling a UIView Up/Down with Swift

I had a problem creating the page curling effect between two views. The solution suggested on StackOverFlow is to use a container that uses auto layout for the two transitioning views, which do not use autolayout. Here’s what the problem looked like:

Here’s what the views should look like:


I committed the working project to my Swift Github repo: under the Xcode project TransitionWithView. Here’s the main functionality:

    func curlUp() {
        let transitionOptions = UIViewAnimationOptions.TransitionCurlUp
            toView: cardBack,
            duration: 5.0,
            options: transitionOptions,
            completion: { _ in
                let transitionOptions = UIViewAnimationOptions.TransitionCurlDown

                    toView: self.cardFront,
                    duration: 5.0,
                    options: transitionOptions,
                    completion: { _ in


    func buildView() {

        let height = 100
        let width = 100

        container = UIView()
        container.backgroundColor = UIColor.blackColor()
        cardBack = UIView(frame: CGRectMake(0, 0, CGFloat(width), CGFloat(height)))
        cardBack.backgroundColor = UIColor.redColor()
        cardFront = UIView(frame: CGRectMake(0, 0, CGFloat(width), CGFloat(height)))
        cardFront.backgroundColor = UIColor.greenColor()

        let viewDictionary:Dictionary = ["container": container]

        let metrics:Dictionary = ["width": width, "height": height]

        let h0Constraint = "H:[container(==width)]"
        let v0Constraint = "V:[container(==height)]"
        addStandardConstraints(self.view, constraint: h0Constraint, viewDictionary: viewDictionary, metrics: metrics)
        addStandardConstraints(self.view, constraint: v0Constraint, viewDictionary: viewDictionary, metrics: metrics)
        centerViewXY(self.view, child: container)
        NSTimer.scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval(2, target: self, selector: "curlUp", userInfo: nil, repeats: false)

Using Swift in a Legacy Objective C Project

I started learning Swift this week. I ran into my first time consuming problem when I tried to import my legacy Objective C classes into my Swift code. There are lots of good instructions on how to accomplish this task.


Unfortunately, I skipped over the one comment that said to include Foundation.h into my Objective C code:

Without it, you will see a lot of Unknown type error messages (e.g.
/Users/melling/Dropbox/dev/ios/Clock/Clock/Number.h:13:30: Unknown type name ‘NSInteger’)

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>

@interface Numbers : NSObject

@property(assign, nonatomic) NSInteger numericalValue;
@property(assign, nonatomic) NSInteger dictId;

@property(strong, nonatomic) NSString *arabic;

First Swift Program

I wrote my first Swift program tonight. It simply puts a button on the screen and handles the click event. Everything is done in code. Code on Github:

The relevant functions are here:

 func addButton() {
        centeredButton = UIButton()
        centeredButton.setTitle("Am I centered?", forState: .Normal)
        centeredButton.setTitleColor(UIColor.blueColor(), forState: .Normal)
        centeredButton.addTarget(self, action: "pressed:", forControlEvents: .TouchUpInside)
        var viewDictionary:Dictionary = ["centeredButton": centeredButton]
        let horizontal:[AnyObject]! = NSLayoutConstraint.constraintsWithVisualFormat("H:|-50-[centeredButton]-50-|", options: NSLayoutFormatOptions(0), metrics: nil, views: viewDictionary)
        let vertical:[AnyObject]! = NSLayoutConstraint.constraintsWithVisualFormat("V:|-100-[centeredButton]-100-|", options: NSLayoutFormatOptions(0), metrics: nil, views: viewDictionary)
    func pressed(sender: UIButton!) {
        var alertView = UIAlertView();
        alertView.title = "My Title";
        alertView.message = "Congratulations";;