Always On Electronic Paper Display (EPD) on a Phone?


The other day came across version 2 of the first ever smartphone from Russia. It has specs on par with some of the leading smartphones and runs the latest version of Android, but its main differentiating factor is an a second display on the back of the phone which is similar to e-readers (2nd version includes a touch screen UI).

Very interesting idea as this allows you to use the phone without consuming a lot of battery life and enables you to see things well in broad daylight. If you’ve ever tried reading an article or an ebook on your phone while chilling at the park or on the beach on a sunny day you know how that’s pretty much impossible to do without really straining your eyes.


Wonder if other manufactures will follow Yota Devices in trying something like this. I’d be curious to play with it to see how they’ve handled the issue of accidentally touching something on whichever screen is facing away from you. Unfortunately, it’s not slated to hit the U.S. market until 2015.


Stop Reading. Start Spritzing.

Read significantly faster with under five minutes of training? Sounds too good to be true yet a new startup called Spritz, that recently came out of stealth mode, promises exactly that by making you read even long pieces one word at a time. Let me hand it over to them for a short explanation of why this works.

“Removing eye movement associated with traditional reading methods not only reduces the number of times your eyes move, but also decreases the number of times your eyes pass over words for your brain to understand them. This makes Spritzing extremely efficient, precise, convenient and comfortable”.

For a more detailed explanation check out the science behind it all. The interesting part is that they claim that your reading comprehension doesn’t decrease, but rather the opposite. Think about what reading a lot faster and retaining the information better can do for you.

As of right now this technology is not available on any web or mobile app, but can be had by partnering with Spritz. If you’d like to check out how it works for yourself check out the demo.

While I am 100% fluent in English, because it’s not phonetic, like my native language, I still read slower than I’d like in it. With Spritz technology I was able to start reading at 400 wpm almost immediately. Later, I noticed that the demo is also available in my native language and was able to read at the demo maximum of 500 wpm. As someone who is very curious and reads a lot about various subjects I’m really looking forward to being able to process written information this way.

Why Imo Messenger is Cutting Support for Third Party IM Clients

Woke up this morning to bad news (and not even in my own inbox). imo messenger, my favorite chat client that combines most chat services into one and has a slick user interface has made the decision to cut support for all the third party messengers and become yet another stand alone client. I was originally going to post about how I feel about it, but since that is rather obvious, I’ve decided that it would be more valuable to post imo’s reasons for making this decision. I came across an imo broadcast in which both founders participated. Here are some of their responses to unhappy users.

Ralph Harik
We understand this is going to make some users unhappy. However, we want to provide a reliable a great messaging service. We feel that the only way to do that is to have us build out our own network.

Ralph Harik
But beyond that, providing a feature like video calling isn’t possible across all these other networks. So we end up with complicated interfaces to handle many corner cases.

Ralph Harik
That’s true but these other networks don’t always provide a reliable way for us to connect to them. What ends up happening is users get upset at us and often it’s out of our control.

Georges Harik
there are some problems with the 3rd party approach as well. For example, Facebook has a setting that says whether they deliver messages to 3rd party apps. So we decided we could never do Facebook messaging as well as Facebook.

Georges Harik
@Steve half the people don’t turn that on and they tell us we have an unreliable service, and in that case they’re right. They’re better of receiving a message from someone using Facebook. So if you want to use Facebook messenger, Facebook is a better option for you.

Georges Harik
With Google we discovered that while we supported the busy status, Hangouts doesn’t and was showing our users with a busy status as offline. It’s hard to keep track of these subtleties in a product we don’t control.

Georges Harik
AOL released their entire aim team and doesn’t let us connect to aim half the time.

Georges Harik
We want to provide a good service, and we want to run more of the experience, and the complexity of dealing with these networks is making our service worse.
@Steve we don’t even understand the repercussions, Skype turned us off without a warning.

Georges Harik
The other networks have been clear they don’t want other people connecting to them. So we decided we’re going to spend our effort on our network.
If we get bigger, we can let other people connect to us, and fulfill everyone’s desire for an open network where anyone can be a client.
But we’re not going to do it by debugging issues with each of the other networks daily.

Georges Harik
@Fer we agree completely, we’ve been working on our clients, and have decided that more of our attention should be paid to making our apps, and our service, bug free and fast.

Mailbox Promises to Solve Your Email Problem

A new startup called Mailbox is promising to solve your email problem by letting you snooze some messages. An interesting email exchange regarding some of the UI choices they’ve made after the jump.

Me: Just started using it. One issue is that I sort all my Gmail with labels and those don’t appear in Mailbox meaning that a lot of junk is intertwined with important emails. So my suggestion would be to incorporate labels.

Mailbox: Hi Marat,

Thanks for your email!

As noted on our FAQ website (, labels/folders are something we continue to consider how to best support.

At present, Mailbox implements and encourages a different form of email storage/filing than Gmail, iCloud, or Yahoo. We’ve found that encouraging people to minimize the use of labels has a huge benefit in terms of productivity, so our initial product only syncs labels inside of the [Mailbox] label (as seen on your Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud web app).

For many users, relying on search and snoozes significantly reduces the need for labels and filing systems. We know this can be a challenging behavioral shift; we encourage you to try it.

We believe there are a couple of good use cases of folders (like clustering a bunch of messages that you need to tackle later at once) and a ton of bad ones (like ‘filing’ everything you’ve done and think you might want to reference someday).

If you’re interested, we’ve found the following blog informative regarding label use and tradeoffs (

All of that said, Mailbox is being designed to promote productive and transferrable behaviors across various platforms (e.g. Gmail, Exchange, iCloud, Yahoo) and clients (i.e. iOS, Android, desktop).

We understand behavior change can be difficult and we do appreciate your feedback. Mailbox is a constant work in progress, and user feedback will influence how it’s shaped.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks for using Mailbox!

Me: I understand your points, but I disagree. Let’s see if you understand mine. It isn’t about changing behavior. Most people, like me, simply get a lot of email that isn’t really important at all. I simply don’t want to have to sift through it all the time. I go and look at it once in a while when I have the time. I want to sift only through emails that are addressed directly to me by real people. I also have a system where all my emails go through my own server and get assigned labels like “personal”, “finances”, “shopping”, etc automatically because I actually use different email addresses. With Mailbox all of a sudden all that email that was nicely separated is now in one giant pile. That certainly doesn’t make me more efficient. Quite the opposite. All the junk I normally don’t even look at unless I want to now gets in my way.

This was pretty much the end of our conversation. They thanked me for the feedback and told me to feel free to suggest anything else.

What do you think? Has Mailbox solved the email problem for you or made it worse? For me personally the lack of labels became a non-starter, as it totally blows up the rather well oiled system I’ve been using for years.

I Can’t Wait for 1960!

While visiting the Museum of New York City came across this fascinating piece made in 1940. An idealistic look at what our urban infrastructure was supposed to look like just 20 years in the future, by 1960, as seen through the eyes of pre-World War II visionaries. It’s 2014 and we’ve still got a long, long way to go.