Polyvox Relaunched

I'm happy to share that the new version of Polyvox will soon be available on the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.

There have been a lot of changes since the last release, based on the feedback I've received from many users at varying stages in their Chinese language learning journey.

First and foremost, I'd like to welcome our new teacher, Li Hua (李花)!

Render of new teacher avatar Li Hua

We needed to overhaul the user interface to accommodate the changes below, and it was pretty clear we needed a new avatar.


The content in the app is no longer structured as lessons. What I discovered during the initial release was that most users prefer their textbooks and teachers for learning grammar and vocabulary.

Adding that content to the app was not only redundant, it decreased the amount of time that users had for what they really want to use it for - practising listening and speaking on a regular basis.

That's why the app content has now been simplified into a regular read-and-repeat loop.

Li Hua will read a sentence to you, then you repeat the sentence back.

Sentences are still grouped by theme and difficulty, but they are mostly independent from one sentence to the next.

Pronunciation scoring

In conjunction with the move to reading sentences, the app will now evaluate your Chinese pronunciation after every sentence.

You will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze star for the entire sentence, and for constituent word.

You can always revisit a sentence at any point in time to try and improve your score.

Try and get as many gold stars as possible!

Account now required

For some time now, I've been trying to avoid forcing users to sign up before using the app.

This was part of the efforts I had made to create an app that would run 100% locally on your device (i.e. without needing to connect to our servers).

However, I can't ignore the importance of having a direct channel of communication with users. Collecting feedback, for example, is considerably more difficult if you don't have the ability to contact users directly.

That being said, I'm still committed to giving customers an app that doesn't require an account or internet connection to run.

This means that installing the free/trial version from the App/Play Stores will require you to sign up for an account.

However, if you purchase the full version, you will receive access to a separate version that doesn't require an account.

This strikes a reasonable compromise between preserving customer rights, and keeping our marketing channel open.

Wardrobe retired

The wardrobe feature was definitely a lot of fun, but usage wasn't anywhere near high enough to justify the effort needed to maintain it.

So for now, the wardrobe has been retired. I'm not ruling out a possible return in future! But no promises.

No immediate plans for open chat

ChatGPT, Claude, Qwen and other Large Language Models have unleashed a lot of language learning apps. Quite a few people have asked if I plan to do something similar.

Again, I'd like to stress the importance of delivering an app that runs entirely locally on your own device.

Why would you care? Because it means:

  • we can't jack up the price on you at a moment's notice
  • we don't collect your data, or your voice
  • if our company is sold or closed, you still have access to the thing you paid for,

Currently, it's still not very practical to run ChatGPT-style models locally on your phone. They're simply too large.

Even though it is possible to run some smaller models locally, it's not very sensible for a commercial product. The download size is huge (4GB+), they will consume all your available device memory, and will overheat and drain your battery with very little usage.

I have been experimenting with simpler versions that skirt all these issues. However, for now, I'd prefer to focus on improving the existing app.

Have fun!

If you're learning Chinese, the most important thing is to have fun!

I hope you enjoy practising with Li Hua, and I hope to see you on our Discord.