If you’re using an official Google-approved Android device that supports Google Play, like a Samsung / HTC / Motorola / LG / Google smartphone, open up Google Play, search for “Pleco” and tap “Pleco Chinese Dictionary” to instantly download the free basic version of Pleco for Android.
You can also install Pleco directly from our own server by typing pleco.com/getandroid in your device’s web browser. (see this page for more detailed instructions on how to install Pleco outside of Google Play)
If you’re in China, our app is also available on the Xiaomi and Huawei app stores, which are built into Xiaomi and Huawei phones sold there and offer nice fast inside-the-Great-Firewall download speeds.
You can buy lots of interesting add-ons to make Pleco more useful, but even the free version stacks up well against any other paid or free Chinese dictionary on Android – it’s a wonderful little app with two great dictionaries, the same fantastic search engine as our full app, lite versions of our flashcard / text reader functions and a fantastically customizable interface. And no ads, we won’t even nag you about buying add-ons.
OCR – our latest and greatest new feature; point your device’s camera at a printed Chinese word to instantly look up its meaning. You don’t even need to take a picture, it works on the live camera video feed. Also includes support for OCR from still images (scroll the image around to look up characters). There’s even a “barcode scanner” type mode where you can create flashcards simply by pointing at words. An OCR demo video for Android should be posted soon, but you can see videos of the almost-identical iPhone version here (or here if you can’t access YouTube) for a better idea of what this is all about; there’s more information and a few screenshots in the instruction manual here.
Great Dictionaries – we’ve licensed more than a dozen of the world’s best Chinese dictionaries to embed in our software, including the ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary edited by John DeFrancis (with almost 200,000 entries), the brand-new ABC English-Chinese Dictionary also edited by John DeFrancis, the Chinese-Chinese Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian, the giant New Century English-Chinese Dictionary, the legendary Pocket Oxford Chinese Dictionary, and the Tuttle Learner’s Chinese-English Dictionary. (several free dictionaries are available as optional downloads, including our CC-Canto Cantonese-English dictionary and the open-source (not Pleco-created) Chinese-French dictionary CFDICT)
Handwriting input – with a recognition engine licensed from China’s leading maker of handwriting input systems. And it’s free for a limited time! You can use the entire width of your device’s screen to draw characters and clear / backspace / finish entering characters using multitouch (two-finger tap). It’s extremely accurate, tolerant of stroke order mistakes, and supports cursive writing, helpful for more advanced users (or for asking people to write down what they’re saying when you can’t understand them).
Flashcard System – create a card from any dictionary entry with a single button tap, import premade word lists, use advanced memorization techniques like SRS, and study in a variety of modes including fill-in-the-blanks handwriting and tone drills.
Fantastic Performance – we’ve been refining our software for 10 years, and our proprietary database engine (though extremely powerful / flexible) was originally developed to offer decent performance on a late-90s vintage Palm Pilot, so even complicated searches are very fast.
Powerful Search – look up words by Chinese characters, Pinyin (with or without tones), or a combination of characters and Pinyin, with support for wildcards and for full-text search to find words appearing anywhere in a dictionary definition.
Cross-referencing – tap on any Chinese character / word in any dictionary entry to look up its definition; you can also magnify / look up those words, look up other words containing a particular character, or bring up additional reference information (from the Unihan character database) on individual characters.
Audio Pronunciation – instantly hear a native-speaker Mandarin audio recording of each Chinese headword; recordings are available for over 34,000 words.
Stroke Order Diagrams – view beautiful, smooth animations of how to draw each character; over 20,000 characters are covered.
Document Reader – open a Chinese-language text file and look up unknown words simply by tapping on them. You can also look up characters in other apps and on web pages via the clipboard. (clipboard mode is free, text file support is a paid add-on)
Taiwan- and Mainland-friendly – supports both traditional and simplified characters (in definitions, stroke order, searches, OCR, and handwriting), and supports Zhuyin as well as Pinyin for headword search and display.
The current version of Pleco for Android is designed to work on devices running Android 4.0 or later. We don’t support very small / low-resolution screens either, but there are relatively few devices in circulation with those that run Android 4. Earlier versions of Pleco supported Android 2.2 and later – you can still download those versions from Google Play or from this APK link.
If you’re buying a new device we would strongly recommend that you get one running Android 5 or later since Google made a lot of improvements in that release and we may start requiring it in the next year or two.
Pleco does not require Google Play support at all; you can download our free app from our website and purchase add-ons for it in our own online store, there’s no need to fiddle around with Market Enabler or swapping SIM cards or any of that. And you don’t need a special Chinese-localized Android device, Pleco works great regardless of where you purchased it / what language the operating system is configured to use.
An internet connection (WiFi or cellular) is required to purchase and download add-on dictionaries and other features; once those are downloaded, though, Pleco can run quite happily without any internet connection required.
Transferring from iOS
See this page for instructions on activating a previously-purchased Pleco license for iPhone / iPod / iPad on Android.