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New Levels Coming to Russian Bingo!

24 Sep

Download from the iTunes Store

Due to the huge success in Russia of Russian Bingo (2K downloads in 24 hours!) we’ve gotten 70 requests for new board levels. Yay!

The new levels cover the following words:

  • Out On the Town: Clubs, movies, drinks with friends, dinner, cultural events.
  • Personal Technology: Ever been stranded abroad and need a new camera flash drive? Want to get on some free wifi to check email?
  • Family relationships: It’s remembering all the relationship words that’s tough- but valuable when you make new friends while traveling. Describe your home, ask about theirs, all at the tip of your tongue.

The levels will be available probably in 3-4 weeks. You can buy them in the app by clicking “Buy Levels” on the information page.

Swipe gestures to navigate from screen to screen.
Audio prompts in English so this game can be used for English-learners, as well as Russian.

Russian iTunes store featured us at #69 on 9/24/2011, next to (gulp) Facebook and Angry Birds, ha!

Updates! Updates!

22 Sep


The Swedish and Russian Bingo’s are getting updated in the store. That means new user interface, and a nice new option to vote for new boards- so click “buy levels” in the app if you do want more. The first one to reach 10 votes will get new vocabulary! I’ve heard from folks that they want new words, but hard data is always nice too.

Once Russian Bingo is approved, it’ll go for FREE on the store for two weeks. Tell your friends!


Notes on Playing Chinese Bingo (中文 Bingo)

21 Sep

Posted this on, but it’s mostly relevant here ;)

I’ve been thinking of making this app ever since we started the Bingo franchise. This is perhaps the hardest language I’ve learned next to Russian, and was super excited to have a simple little game I can play casually.

The other day I looked over my sister’s shoulder as she played with almost every Chinese app I had downloaded on my iPad- and I have a lot of them. I was working with a client on curriculum pieces for his Chinese-English school. While most of them are quite good, and use the iPad’s gesture recognition to improve muscle memory for writing, none of them are quite what the doctor ordered. The problem with flashcards is that they aren’t random enough, and the “honor system” is how they check against your knowledge- not ideal. I should probably write an app review on Language Requirement.

Talking to a Chinese-American coworker the other day, she kept arguing with me that she didn’t know Chinese well enough to play. After going back and forth, she admitted she was “advanced intro,” which of course, is ideal for this game.

The thing that’s tough in marketing this game is that it’s for adults, and it’s not for beginners. It’s not impossible for beginners- I created a Pinyin version if you can’t read the characters- it’s just oriented for those with already an A,B,C, 1,2,3 working knowledge of Chinese.

I took Chinese a few years ago, advancing up to intermediate, but currently am quite rusty. I noticed, during the progress of this app an almost incredible leap in ability. At a meeting maybe a month ago, I wrote down all the characters I’d memorized. I could write 1, and vaguely remembered 5. This is from knowing 500 in my final year of school. After working on the game and playing it a few times a day, I now know 75 and can probably write by hand 50 from memory.

The real trippity trip is to download all the games and switch between them rapidly. I’ve had to do that to test some functionality, and it makes me boggle at the mind’s language capabilities. That might be an interesting game- cross-language.

Notes From A Developer On Her 1 Year App Anniversary

12 Sep

I wrote up this blog post, reflecting on the Bingo code base, which I’ve been upgrading and maintaining for (gulp) an entire year! Wow. A Year In The Trenches..”

New Look!

Old Look

1 Year Annivesary of Le Bingueau- Free Until 9/16

11 Sep

A year ago, Mary McArthur and I managed to get the French Bingo game, Le Bingueau, approved in the Apple Store. Since then we’ve made 4 other titles in Russian, Swedish, Spanish, and Chinese. To celebrate the auspicious day, we’re putting Le Bingueau in the store… for free!

A new version is coming out soon- it’s “In Review” with Apple. Hopefully it’ll get approved before the free date expires.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded one of our apps in the last year, it’s been super fun.

Follow us on twitter- @bingueau– or drop us an email, We love feedback! There might be a free promo code in it for you, as well.

El Bingo- Spanish Bingo- In the Store!

10 Sep

We launched the Spanish Bingo – El Bingo – and it’s currently in the store, for $0.99. Our native speaker, Celeste Lindo, has a gorgeous accent. Be sure to write us a note, too, at if you do download!

Check it out- and of course we’d love to know what you think.

Here are some screenshots to wet your appetite:

Words around the house- El Bingo

Notes on Swedish Bingo

16 Nov


Now that we’re on our 3rd app (wow!) we have some traditions! One of them – and one of my favorites- is to talk about how we selected the words for each board. From language to language, we select different words, based on the same theme. We take into account cultural aspects. We’re not telling you, for instance, how to translate your current American apartment into Swedish, but how a Swedish person would describe their apartment, in Sweden. Mary and I discussed this at a party recently (where some of our very important Bingueau discussions occur). Most travel apps and language guides help you discuss your Western life in foreign language. What it leaves out, or what it leaves the student to learn later, is how the culture describes itself.

Me, coffee, wifi in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

For example, in Sweden, coffee is very important. Documented various places, but mostly I’m reminded of this on my Facebook feed, when around 10PM Pacific Time, my Swedish friends start bragging about their lovely steaming cups of kaffe. So in the “in the kitchen” list, I made sure coffee maker, coffee pot, coffee, etc. were all there. I also think that in learning a foreign language, seeing the root, endings, and compound words with a common root help learn a grammar lesson almost imperceptively. Kaffekanna, tekanna, and kaffebryggare, teaches you through practice and repetition the endings for adding “pot”, “machine,” the differences between tea and coffee, and other suffixes, includign identifying the root. And, in later lists, this is apparent with clothing, clothes washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, etc.

As I also did for Russian Bingo, for climates that have serious winters, I made sure to include a set of winter clothes- heavy coat, light coat, etc. Tights, vs. nylons.  This is a classic example of why we include words that are important to Swedes vs. describing our life in Swedish. I live in San Francisco, I never have to wear a serious winter coat, nor tights, hats, unless it’s a fashion choice. The reality of living through a Swedish winter without good boots, or a Ukraine winter, would be ridiculous. Being able to describe that is key to knowing the language.

To be honest, adding the audio was an afterthought, but now it’s my favorite feature of the game. At one of our favorite SF cafes, Chameleon, Mary suggested recording sounds for our budding iPhone game. She recorded and added the sounds to our code repository, I integrated them with the touch events, and the next time we met, I was eager to show her the resulting app. I felt it had improved the whole experience almost twofold. With Swedish, this is even more apparent. Because it is so similar to English, we can lull ourselves into thinking we know it. more than any other language I’ve shown my friends- Spanish, Russian, and Chinese (all in development)- Swedish is the one they are the most confident about, without any schooling. It’s the audio that tells them they don’t know it, ha. Of course they initially point to “kök,” “what does that mean?” thinking it’s…. that c-word. Our native speaker Håkan says, “shoohk” and they are chastened.

Viking building in Denmark

Viking house in Denmark, shaped like a ship

I had quite a back and forth with Håkan about “tak.” Some of my sources said “roof” with a second definition as “ceiling,” and “innertak” being a primary meaning for ceiling. He had told me “tak” was OK for ceiling, and in further discussion, he added that there is a technical word that building contractors use to define ceiling, “innertak” but in the vernacular most people say “tak.” I’m wondering if it’s because historically roofs were alpine design, with no lower internal roof because that would prevent heat from descending. Note this Danish Viking building, shows the lack of ceiling and only a roof, for heat purposes. Having toured Russian rural houses, they also didn’t have ceilings, only roofs, and were similarly within a larger barn building, to manage the heat. Of course there are debates on how much history has an effect on modern word usage.


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