Flash My Brain for the iPhone: A Review


UPDATE: April 2013 – The developer appears to have given up on this app and ithas gone a long time without updates. Despite having a lot of promise, I would no longer recommend this app ;-(


Whilst I’m on a Greek and an iPhone App roll, I thought I’d introduce you to another iPhone App that I have been using recently that has enhanced my Greek study no end.

As soon as the App store became available I was aware of the possibility of using my iPhone to aid my Greek study. I held off, thinking that written memory cards suited me just fine. Eventually I caved in however, and have been happily using ‘Flash My Brain’ for several months now. There are now an impressive array of flashcard apps available for the iPhone – but in my view, this one beats them hands down for biblical Greek study.

I have uploaded all of the 600 vocabulary words used in Jeremy Duff’s ‘Elements of New Testament Greek’, including one version that includes audio helps for each of the words. Hopefully the somewhat poorly shot embedded video demonstrates something of the feel of the App…!

Many of its reviews on the App Store are all over the place, with mixed reviews elsewhere too. By and large I feel this is a little unfair. I’ve therefore decided to give my reason’s for using it below:

Things I like:

  • I have found that the Leitner memorisation system and customisable shuffling incorporated as options have made my learning more systematic and works really very well for me.

  • The online card view system makes it really easy for you, if you wish, to make your flashcard sets available for other users to access. Last time I checked, there were 243 different cardsets just for Greek vocab and grammar that people had uploaded and made available through the online server – with many hundreds more in everything from taxes to Tibetan to time tables! Whilst I guess most people have specific and individual requirements when it comes to their flashcard content, there is so much good stuff available on there that it does deserve a mention.
  • You can take photos with the iPhone’s camera, or add photos from your saved albums on both the iPhone and iPod Touch – you can even then slice them up and use bits from the front and back of your cards. I have added sound recordings to my flash cards that can be set to automatically play or play on my command (see embedded video for an example of this). This I find really useful as I have both the visual reminder of the word with an audio pronunciation right there to reinforce it. However, the editing process through the iPhone editor can prove to be a little time consuming. If you’re prepared to shell out for the desktop version, you’ll find that it seamlessly integrates with you iPhone and makes the process of creating cards SO much easier! Having created over 600 now, I don’t think I would have managed just using the built in iPhone editor, even though it is very good.
  • It’s always on you! (well, always on me anyway). Whether I’m on the train, walking out and about or lying in bed, I can always reach for my phone and have my vocab easy to hand. Fantastic!

Things I would like to see:

  • A cheaper price! ‘Flash my Brain’ for the PC or Mac weighs in at $29.95, with the iPhone App setting you back $5.99 currently. Whilst these apps are the best in their market imo, they are still a little pricey.
  • The font used to display Greek text on the iPhone is readable, but ugly. To be fair, I guess this is the fault of the current iPhone software for not supporting more attractive fonts for biblical Greek study so this may change in the future.
  • I’d like there to be some kind of free uploader available so that users can easily upload their own cards without being reliant on either using the iPhone editor (laborious) owning the PC / Mac version (expensive).

Check it out:

Flash My Brain

for the iPhone.

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35 thoughts on “Flash My Brain for the iPhone: A Review

  1. Looking for recent reviews of the FMB software. I can only find ones that are about a year old.Can you comment on actual software usability / quirks? Are experiencing (even remotely) some of the same symptoms as those that have commented elsewhere?

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  2. Thanks for your comment Sam.
    So far I have found the app to be very useable. I know some people have reported that changing the size of the text when deleting deletes the card, random crashes etc and I have to say that I have experienced none of this.
    The update in late August enabled much better syncing between the desktop and iPhone apps, enabling a much needed feature for me which was the ability to play audio created on the desktop app through the iPhone and vice versa.
    I have some very large cardsets (into the hundreds) with audio included on every one of the cards and they can take a while to load when loading from fresh but that’s to be expected.
    I haven’t had need to make extensive use of their support, but I have emailed once or twice and received a prompt and helpful reply.
    Hope this helps – are you thinking of buying?

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  3. Thanks for this – another excellent resource worth knowing about. Just wondering – where did you get the audio files for the Duff vocab.? Also, if anyone knows the rationale of Duff’s choice of those 600 words I’d love to know. I think it’s a great place to start but have often wondered how the list was compiled.

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  4. I think I’m right in saying that the 600 words are all of the words that occur at least 23 times in the NT plus a few others that illustrate important aspects of grammar. Beyond that I’m not qualified enough to know why he chose one word and not the other etc. I have emailed him once or twice and found him to be a very decent and helpful chap…
    I got the audio clips by playing around with the audio cd that came with the book when I bought it. As this was something I had paid for and it’s for my own personal use I guess that’s ok in terms of copyright. The audio CD contains all the vocabulary on the first CD, with the second CD containing read portions of the NT. If anyone’s reading this and is using Duff’s ‘Elements of NT Greek’ I highly recommend also getting hold of the CD.

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  5. I’m about to embark on the journey through Duff’s Elements and have been searching for some kind of iPhone app that would help with vocab, so thanks for the tip-off.
    Just out of interest, have you made your cardset available on the FMB website, or do you know of others who have uploaded Duff’s vocab? Am reluctant to buy unless I know I’m going to get what I need!

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  6. Good luck with the Greek Richard! I have been finding Duff’s book the best…
    The non-audio version is available through FMB online – I guess if you could vouch for having your own copy of the audio CD then that would be ok in terms of copyright for me to also make the audio version available to you. In which case send me an email and I can arrange to pass it on…

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  7. hello and thank you for this great review. I just want to know how does the leinter system work? I know the system and I’ve been using it for more than a year withe traditional paper flash cards but I’d like to know how does it work on flash my brain. How many repetition there are and how much delay there is between each repetition.Thanks a lot.

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  8. The Leitner system works by having 6 ‘boxes’ (displayed in landscape view at the bottom of the screen) ranging from ‘New’ to ‘Mastered’. You can see this on some of the screenshots above. Every card starts in ‘New’ and whenever you get the card right (by choosing not to ‘review’ the card you are assumed to have got the card right) it moves forward a box. Getting a card wrong moves it back a box.
    You are asked ‘New’ cards the most often, but I don’t know exactly how often proportionally to the other cards…
    Hope that helps…

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  9. Thank you very much . I’m so happy with you response. I have another question about the desktop app if you don’t mind. I want to know that “Flash my Brain” is a web based app (I mean we have to open it in a web browser ) or it’s a desktop app. Does it work on Mac? Does our progress in the leinter system synced with the iPhone and the offline version?I live in Bahrain and unfortunately it’s not possible for me to buy the iPhone app. is there another way to buy the iPhone version?
    Thank you very much and I’ll appreciate your help.

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  10. Sam I find your feedback on the FMB software very helpful. Have you ever printed out any of your cards, and if so how did that turn out?

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  11. Sayed Ali – You can access the desktop version through your web browser (I access it through Safari for the Mac quite happily) and you can download the software as an application up to 3 times… I don’t know about the Leitner syncing as I tend to stick to using my iPhone for memorisation and only really use the desktop app for creating new cards.
    Nate – I haven’t made any extensive use of the facility to print out my cards as I tend to use my iPhone. I had a go when I first bought the software and did so without any troubles – although I gather from other forums that users have had difficulties with it.

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  12. Hi Joel, as I said to Richard above, the non-audio version is available via the online downloads section of the flash my brain software under ‘Greek’. Send me a message via the contact section if you have problems.

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  13. I am looking at Flashcard systems to learn Chinese. I want to concentrate more on Pinyin and pronunciation rather than the chinese characters, but characters will still be useful. Has anyone had any experience with Chinese on Flash My Brain. What are the existing databases/lists of words like?Also, the website says Flash My Brain can be used on PDAs. I have a Compaq Pocket PC – (1996-2001 )Version 3.0.11171. Can I use it on this or is my PDA a little too old. I have had some trouble with other PDA flash card software, probably because my PDA is a bit old.
    thanks.

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  14. Does this app include an option to take a card out of rotation? I am wanting an app that will remove mastered cards, but I don’t see anywhere whether Flash My Brain will do this.

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  15. You have a very helpful review, and I nearly bought the iPhone and the desktop-app, but then realized: Is it true, that FMB cant make a “viewer” or similary way to share my flashcards with my students? I am in the situation as a teacher, that I have to be able to give my students (both mac’s and pc’s) these flashcard-decks for viewing. Can FMB do that and in what way? As a quicktimemovie of “paused dias'”? Their own site does not mention… I almost get the feeling that one has to own another license just for accessing and viewing a shared deck?

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  16. Hi Poul, I’m not aware that it can (although you can print the cards). I think your students would have to own a copy of the software to view cards you had created.
    Do try emailing through to fmb, though, as they’re very helpful and may be able to suggest something or simply log it as a feature request…

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  17. Be VERY careful BEFORE you purchase this. We were trying the Windows version, and felt safe with a 30 day refund through Paypal. We found that it didn’t meet our needs within 3 days, and they have NOT returned our money – with three months of trying. My kids are taking Latin – and that was our reason. It takes far too long to create cards online for us to use them, and font selection didn’t work well. The 30 day trial seems to be a way to keep your money. They have promised to return the money twice in the last three months. Forums have plenty of people lacking support – and many more waiting for refunds that never came. Horrid customer service. They stole our money. I’m sure this is the first bad review of a purchase that I have ever made on the internet. I think 3 months of patience is enough. Buyer Beware!

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  18. Hi Joel,
    I use Audacity although I guess Garageband does the job just as well. The only thing I suggest to make it quicker is to select the relevant bit of audio and ‘convert selection to mp3’ (or something like that) for each word in the chapter which does make it a bit quicker. Hope that makes sense – I don’t use Gband but am assuming there’s the option within it to do much the same. Let me know when you’ve created new ones as I wouldn’t mind having them myself. Good luck!
    Mary – sorry you had a bad experience. I hadn’t realised there even was a 30 day trial 😉

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  19. I recently uploaded the remaining cards for Duff’s Elements of NT Greek. All 600 words are now on there… Takes a while to download but if you create your own set from this it’ll store the files locally.

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  20. these guys are useless no customer service their iphone app is crashing but help, i want to download the software again they asked me to contact them I did several times no reply.
    absolutely no interest in doing bussiness save your money and run.

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  21. Hi Sam,Thanks for the review. I have the ipod version and was wondering whether it’s possible to enter Greek fonts from the ipod/iphone? I haven’t found a way to do this yet and am guessing I may have to shell out for the desktop version at some point!

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  22. Pete,
    I just had a thought – if you have a Mac, you could install ‘pastebot’ (from app store) and then any text you copy (eg Greek) will get added to your Touch clipboard automatically enabling you to paste into Flash My Brain. Just a thought.
    Will only work if you have a Mac though.

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  23. Do these flashcards allow you to start/stop audio files on the cards? I am trying to learn bird calls, and have recordings which are several minutes long and I am trying to find a flashcard program which allows me to control when to stop and start the audio. Thanks!

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  24. Does it at least stop playing the audio file when you move on to a new card? The flashcard software I currently use keeps on playing the audio file even after I move on to the next card if there is no new audio file to begin playing on the next card, and it is very annoying. Thanks!

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  25. This ap has the potential to be the standard bearer for flash card aps, however the complete lack of customer service from the company keeps this ap stuck on the floor. The ap is minimally functional with the new IOS update, (on iPad, iPhone) which is why I purchased the ap, the portability. But with that feature gone it doesnt make sense to use it. All emails I have found and tried in contacting the company dont work, so if you believe that you may need help at some time, this is not the ap.

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