Yotaphone 2

I really like e-ink displays. I’m not a huge fan of OLED displays, though; they’ve become much better in recent years, but they can still be difficult to read in bright sunlight. Conceptually, the Yotaphone 2 made a ton of sense to me. I’ve been using one for a month now.

The hardware itself is beautifully designed. It looks fantastic. Because there’s no home button, and because the SIM card slot is hidden behind the volume buttons, the device itself seems almost featureless.

It’s very thin, particularly considering that there are two screens in that thing. The phone’s edges are bent inwards, which looks amazing, and makes it easier to hold.

The back screen is slightly curved along the left and right edges, which is cool and makes it easier to hold, but can be annoying when you actually use the screen. The back screen has an antireflective coating, which also gives it a bit of grip. It’s still a pretty slippery phone, though.

All in all, I think this is one of the most beautiful phones on the market right now.

Battery Life

The phone has a 2500 mAh battery, which is kind of anemic by today’s standards. The phone I carried previously, a Galaxy Note 3,1 released back in 2013, came with a 3,200 mAh battery. As a result, battery life is not great. I usually get around 14 hours of life out of the device, which means that the phone typically doesn’t quite make it through a day. It’s about on par with what I got out of the iPhone 4S I used to own,2 and quite a bit worse than the Note 3.

Ostensibly, the e-ink screen is supposed to fix this problem; just avoid using the OLED screen, and battery life will skyrocket! Reviews of the phone claim that you can easily extend the phone’s battery life from one day to two or even three. To me, this doesn’t seem plausible. On average, my Yotaphone claims that the OLED screen is responsible for about 25% of its battery usage. If I only used the e-ink screen,3 that would extend battery life from 14 hours to maybe 20 hours — nowhere near two days.

The battery problem is compounded by Android’s terrible standby battery usage. iOS barely uses any battery if the device is in standby mode. I can let an iPad sit on my desk for a week, and it’ll still have a charge when I turn it back on. The same can’t be said for Android. Unless I turn my Android devices off, they keep draining battery at a pretty astonishing pace.

All of this means that even if I avoid using the OLED screen whenever possible,4 the Yotaphone still has pretty mediocre battery life. That doesn’t mean that the e-ink screen is irrelevant to battery life, though. Having it means that I can read a book on my phone without draining the battery in a few short hours.

In other words, the e-ink screen doesn’t allow me to easily make it through more than a day on a single charge, but if I do something on my phone that requires me to look at its screen for long periods of time, it will prevent the battery from dying prematurely.

Hardware

The phone doesn’t have a replaceable battery or an SD card slot. I don’t mind the battery part that much, though I would prefer to be able to swap the battery. The missing SD card slot, though, is a bigger problem. The Note 3 I used previously had 32 GB of internal storage, and I added a 128 GB SD card. The internal storage held apps, the external storage held downloaded podcasts, photographs and movies taken with the phone, and similar data. As a result of this, I effectively did not have to care about storage space. Going from not having to even think about storage space to having to actively manage storage space sucks, and just shouldn’t be necessary anymore.

The phone’s front screen is covered with Gorilla glass 3, but for some reason, I’ve already noticed some faint scratches. They’re barely visible, but still; this is something I haven’t seen on a phone in a long time. It’s a 5 inch AMOLED screen with 1920 × 1080 pixels, which is more than good enough, even though it seems comically small after using 6 inch screens for years.

The back screen is also covered by Gorilla glass 3; at 4.7 inches, it has 960 × 540 pixels, a resolution of 235 ppi. I’d like it to be slightly higher, but it’s certainly good enough for most situations. The back screen is curved at the edges, which looks really cool (and makes the phone easier to hold).

Unfortunately, it can mean that it’s harder to find a position where there’s no glare on the back screen — a problem that Yota’s own picture of the phone shows beautifully.

The back screen’s texture makes it less reflective and helps make it less slippery, but when holding it «backwards», you’re effectively holding a slab of glass. This is particularly problematic when you put it down backwards on a table or sofa. If it’s not entirely flat, the phone will just slide away.

One issue I’ve noticed with the e-ink screen is that the Yotaphone is not great at detecting when it should do a full refresh. E-ink screens show a visible ghost of the previous image. To get around that, e-ink devices refresh the screen from time to time (turning the full screen white, then black, then white, resulting in a visible flash). Yotaphone’s built-in apps that are specifically designed for the e-ink screen know when to do that, but if you use normal Android apps on the e-ink screen, the phone seems to have some basic heuristics for deciding when to refresh the screen. Sometimes, this works well, but other times — when using the Kindle app, for example — the refresh is barely ever triggered, and ghosting starts to accumulate.

The only thing that should be visible on this screen is the book page’s text, and a page number and progress percentage at the bottom. Everything else is ghosting.

It’s not a huge problem, just a small detail that could likely be improved with a software update.

The device has 2 GB of RAM, which is not quite enough to run Android well. The Note’s 3 GB of RAM meant that I could easily run multiple apps and switch between them, but on the Yotaphone, I can barely switch between two apps without the first one being auto-killed.

The camera on the phone produces quite beautiful pictures, even in most low-light situations. It’s not quite fast enough — from lock screen to taking the first picture can take a few seconds, and there’s perceivable shutter lag. The camera sometimes has problems auto-focusing on objects close to the lens, but tapping on the screen to manually focus, and then taking a picture, usually fixes the problem.

Like the iPhone, the phone doesn’t have an LED. Personally, I really like notifications LEDs, since I tend to leave my phone lying around, and the blinking light tells me if I’ve missed any notifications. No such luck on the Yotaphone, though.

Integration

The Yotaphone 2 runs stock Android with some added features related to the e-ink screen. There are basically four different ways you can use the e-ink screen:

  • YotaPanel puts interactive widgets on the e-ink screen (alternatively, you can put a picture on there, but, weirdly, you can’t have a picture and some widgets)
  • You can take a screenshot of the front screen, and put it on the e-ink screen
  • Special e-ink apps can be launched from Android, and then take over control of the e-ink screen
  • YotaMirror allows you to use regular Android apps on the e-ink screen

Of the four, YotaPanel and YotaMirror are the most useful. The e-ink apps are cool, but there are only a few of them. Putting a screenshot on the back panel sounds useful (you might think that could take a screenshot of a train schedule, for example, and always have it available on your phone — even if it runs out of power), until you realize that the screenshot only stays on the back screen for a few mintues, until the phone decides to go back to showing your YotaPanel widgets. And once the phone starts running out of juice, it automatically puts an «I’m in battery saving mode» picture on the back screen.

YotaPanel and YotaMirror are really cool. Just being able to see the time without turning on the phone is actually more useful than I thought. I can’t help but think that there’s more you could do with a touchscreen on the back of the phone, though. How about using the back touchscreen to send touch events to the front touchscreen, for example? That would allow you to play games without covering the touchscreen with your fingers.

One interesting aspect of the Yotaphone is how the phone figures out which screen you’re using. Through experimentation, I’ve come to the conclusion that it uses both the phone’s orientation and its touchscreens to decide which screen you’re looking at. If your hand covers one of the screens, it assumes that you’re looking at the other screen. If it can’t tell based on that, it assumes that the screen pointing up is the one you’re looking at. In everyday usage, this works surprisingly well; at times, it’s almost spooky how well the phone knows what I’m doing. Lock the phone, turn it arouhnd, unlock it — now the other screen is unlocked. It’s not quite perfect, though. Every few days, I’m looking at the OLED screen, and it suddenly goes dark — because the phone somehow interpreted my hand movements as an attempt to unlock the back screen.

Android

Yotaphone’s e-ink screen has caused me to neglect my Kindle a bit, and do more reading on my phone. This has given me a renewed respect for Android, and really reminded me of why I switched from iOS to Android. Just the Kindle app alone is so much better on Android than iOS. It can use the volume buttons for turning pages, which works beautifully on the Yotaphone. And it has a built-in, fully integrated store!

But using it has also reminded me of the issues I have with Android, particularly with its hardware ecosystem. There are a ton of different Android phones, but they’re all variations on the same theme. The few phones that do something special typically only do one thing. You can get the waterproof phone, or the phone with the pressure-sensitive pen, or the phone with the superhuge screen, or the phone with the e-ink screen, or the phone with the multi-day battery life, or the phone that’s rugged and won’t break if it falls, or the phone that has a fantastic, fast camera, or the phone that has two SIM card slots, or the phone that has a lot of internal storage — but you can’t get a phone that does all — or even more than one or two — of these things.

My phone is probably my most used electronic device I own. I want to do sketches on my phone, but for that, I need a pressure-sensitive pen and a larger screen. I want to take my phone everywhere I go, but for that, it should be waterproof and rugged. I want to read books on my phone, and use it in bright sunlight, and for that, an e-ink screen is a fantastic feature. And so on.

The phone I want doesn’t exist.

Conclusion

The Yotaphone 2 is an incredibly beautiful phone with one incredibly useful feature. I just love going for a walk in the sun, turning on the OLED screen, seeing almost nothing, turning the phone, and being able to see its screen perfectly. I particularly love reading on this thing.

But this is also a phone that has quite a few flaws, and that I can’t easily recommend to most people. Unless you do a lot of things that work well on the e-ink screen, this phone is probably not for you.

For me, I love e-ink screens so much that I will put up with the phone’s problems, at least for now. In the long run, though, I wish that Android phone manufacturers would stop making «one special feature» phones, and instead start making more well-rounded phones that are aren’t kind of mediocre in every aspect except one.


  1. By the way, comparing the Note 3 to the iPhone 6 plus makes the 6 plus look a bit ridiculous. It’s quite a bit larger than the Note 3, but its screen is visibly smaller; side-by-side, the 6 plus looks bulky, and its design seems wasteful. back

  2. And carry in a Mophie Juice Pack. back

  3. And assuming that the e-ink screen uses zero battery. back

  4. Technically, you could use the device without ever turning on the OLED screen. All you need to do is add the Android launcher as one of the apps that can be launched from the back screen, then unlock the back screen and start the Android launcher — voilà, you’re running Android on your back screen without ever turning on the OLED screen! In reality, some apps don’t work well on the back screen, because they require colors or a higher resolution than the e-ink screen provides to be properly usable. back

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Burger

BBC Magazine:

«I did multiple tests,» says James Foster, a web developer based in New Zealand, who has surveyed users’ interactions with the button over the course of many months. «The results all came out the same - the icon is not as clear to some users as developers and designers think it is.»

Adding the word «menu» underneath the three lines increases the button’s use by 7.2%, according to Foster’s tests.

Putting the hamburger inside a box, so it looks like a button, increases use by 22.4%.

Switching the lines for the word «menu» makes 20% more people click, Foster found.

(…)

People are getting used to the hamburger button - albeit slowly. Foster carried out his first test on users in early 2014, and has been testing since. Users do seem to understand it more.

The inventor of the hamburger - or air vent - is sanguine about his legacy. «Though I don’t condemn or condone its usage today, my guess is it’s probably here to stay,» says Norm Cox. «All the ‘controversial’ discussion about it has burned it even more into our digital vernacular.»

Recognition of the hamburger icon also depends on where it is positioned. If it’s positioned in an unusual location, putting a box around it is definitely a good idea.

At this point, replacing it with something else doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. Even Microsoft is putting it into its products now.

I guess we’ll just have to keep our heads down, push through the valley of incognizance that always occurs when we replace something people know with something they don’t, deal with the burger icon as well as possible,1 and hope that people will soon get used to it.


  1. This includes rethinking where it is located, particularly on mobile phones. iOS’s «navigation at the top» scheme made sense on a 3.5 inch screen; the larger the screen, the more problematic this approach becomes. back

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My friend Jon Bell is now publishing things on Patreon. The first issue is online. Among other things, it contains two essays I’ve written, and one written by my friend Valentin Filippov.

Card Sort Generator

I was preparing for a card sort yesterday, clicking around in OmniGraffle, trying to come up with a good grid for the cards, entering labels, when it occurred to me that there had to be an easier way. A cursory Internet search didn’t reveal anything, so I made the obvious choice, and spent half a day implementing a tool that renders a card sheet PDF from a list of terms:

cardsort.ignorethecode.net

It’s pretty simple. Enter your list of terms, select US Letter or A4, select how many cards there should be on a page, and download the rendered PDF.

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Matt Gemmell has written an extensive article explaining Windows Phone’s user interface from the point of view of an iPhone users:

This isn’t a review, or even a comparison. You can think of it as a sort of traveller’s guide for iPhone users, who find themselves in the land of Windows Phone. It’s also about the platform itself, rather than any specific handset.

Well worth reading.

Nintendo's Mobile Games

Nintendo is collaborating with/licensing its IP to DeNA, a mobile game developer. Some people are reading this as «Nintendo games on iPhones», but I think that’s making some tenuous assumptions. These are Nintendo games in the same way that this is the Apple watch:

Apple-branded quartz watch1

There’s a huge difference between «a watch with an Apple logo», and «the Apple watch».

All of DeNA’s currently available games are free to play. This isn’t entirely new territory for Nintendo, who has been flirting with free to play gaming for a while now. So far, they’ve released a bunch of free-to-play games on the 3DS, including the terrible Pokémon Shuffle2 — which, like these new games, was developed by a third party developer.

Pokémon Shuffle is not the first time Nintendo has licensed its IP to other developers, either. If you don’t remember the Zelda and Mario games for the Philips CDi, please try to keep it that way, because they were horrid.3

That’s not to say that Nintendo’s IP licensing always fails; Capcom made some truly fantastic Zelda games, and Sega’s F-Zero4 was one of the best games on the Gamecube.

Still, if you were one of the people asking for Nintendo to bring their games to iOS back in 2013, this is very likely not what you had in mind. John Gruber writes:

Not sure what to make of this yet, but it sounds like they’re doing what I suggested back in 2013.

Maybe I misread the essays back then, but my impression was that people were hoping that Nintendo would go the Square-Enix route, and release higher-priced premium games on iOS, not that they would license their IP to a third-party and allow them to make Mario-themed free-to-play Skinner boxes.5

In fact, Nintendo explicitly acknowledges that they won’t bring what most people think of as «Nintendo games» to mobile platforms:

We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP.

It’s not clear to me what exactly Nintendo’s strategy is. They do point out that their console games sell well:

Last year, an unprecedented thing in the history of the Japanese video game market happened: Five titles for Nintendo 3DS sold more than two million copies each in the latter six-month period of 2014. As this record-breaking incident attests, video game software sales have been progressing smoothly on dedicated video game hardware even after smart devices have become widespread in this country.

Of course, the challenge of asking our consumers to purchase dedicated video game hardware has become harder now that smart devices have widely spread. However, we recognize that our business model of producing both video game hardware and software is effective even today, and we do not share this pessimistic view of the future for dedicated video game systems.

And Iwata acknowledges that Nintendo’s IP is its biggest asset:

When we further analyze the situation, Nintendo’s strength lies in, or our consumers see the most value in and are willing to pay money for, Nintendo IP, such as our software and characters, and we have been creating and nurturing them together with the history of home video game entertainment.

I don’t see how licensing Mario for usage in free-to-play games will «nurture» that character. Iwata suggests that the idea is to use these mobile games as «advertisements» for the real games:

Nintendo has made this decision because we have concluded that the approach of making use of smart devices is a rational way for us to encourage even more people around the world to recognize the great value of the wonderful game software available on our dedicated game systems.

(…)

We aim to construct a bridge between smart devices and dedicated video game hardware that connects consumers to our dedicated video game systems.

For the consumers who are connected with Nintendo through smart devices and interested in Nintendo’s IP, we would like to provide even more premium gameplay experiences on Nintendo’s dedicated game platforms. By taking this approach, we firmly believe that doing business on smart devices will not shrink our dedicated video game system business and will instead create new demand as this broader reach will enable us to provide consumers around the world with more opportunities to experience the appeal of Nintendo IP, and instead of trying to seize the other’s demand, dedicated video game systems and smart devices will benefit from the synergies created between them.

But I’m not sure that free-to-play games can work as ads for console games. You know, the ones where the developer’s incentive is to create a good game and get people to buy it, not the ones where the developer’s incentive is to trick people into constantly coming back to something that’s actually not very enjoyable. I’m buying Nintendo consoles exactly because I want to avoid these kinds of games.

I have no doubt that Nintendo will make a lot of money from this, at least in the short run. I’m just not convinced that this isn’t going to do more damage than good in the long run. Nintendo’s place in the market should be as an alternative to the terrible free to play games, not as yet another purveyor of them. That’s their value; if you buy a Nintendo game, you know it’s going to be good.

DeNA has published some good6 games, so there’s at least a chance that these will not be too terrible, particularly if Nintendo is involved in the development process. Still, this could easily end up being a case of «be careful what you wish for».

In the end, though, I’m pretty sure the next real Zelda game is still going to come out on Wii U, and not on the iPhone.

Addendum

Nintendo is now saying that at least some games might not be free to play:

Considering the issue further, Iwata said he doesn’t want to «choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo’s brand image or our IP,» and that it is important to have a business model «parents feel comfortable letting their children play with. Also, it’s even more important for us to consider how we can get as many people around the world as possible to play Nintendo smart device apps, rather than to consider which payment system will earn the most money.»

Also relevant:

Elsewhere in the interview, Iwata clarified that the actual development of games as part of the mobile partnership will «be mainly done by Nintendo,» though legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto will place priority on continued development of Wii U titles. Iwata also reiterated that Nintendo wouldn’t just port existing console games to the mobile marketplace wholesale, owing to differences in the platforms. «My understanding is that, on smart devices, the main demand is for very accessible games which smart device users can easily start and easily finish,» he said. «These are not necessarily the characteristics that people demand from games for dedicated video game systems.»

Sounds promising. I guess we’ll see.


  1. Image sourceback

  2. The Verge: «Nintendo has started making bad free-to-play games like everybody else - Pokemon Shuffle brings the worst of mobile gaming to your 3DS.» back

  3. Remember when Sega still made good games? Getting out of the hardware business sure did wonders for them. back

  4. Hence my argument that Nintendo could make more money selling 60$ games with an attach rate of 50% on the Wii U, than premium-priced games on the iPhone. back

  5. Good for a free to play game, that is. back

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False Dichotomies

Here’s something I’m noticing quite a lot during design meetings. We’re talking about a specific design detail, and somebody takes a stance. «I think we should hide this button in the header of the table, and only show it when the mouse hovers over the header. Otherwise, we have to add this button to every single column, and it’s going to look cluttered.»

Somebody else disagrees: «I would just show it. Otherwise, people won’t figure out that they can access these sort options, because they won’t hover the mouse over the header.»

Now the other people in the meeting are starting to take sides.

«We should show the button, hiding it is not discoverable.»

«I disagree, I think it’s better to hide it, showing it looks ridiculous.»

Pretty soon, you have two groups of people. At this point, the people inside each group are no longer really listening to the people in the other group. Each group is only reinforcing its own position, and coming up with better and better reasons for why their approach is correct, and the other group’s approach is flawed. Trenches are being dug. The situation slowly escalates.

You’re witnessing the human tendency towards tribalism.

Once you have two groups of people, each advocating for its own position and reinforcing its own beliefs, people seem to start turning off parts of their brains. Things get emotional. Assumptions turn into unquestioned facts. At this point, people are no longer looking for solutions, or for common ground. They’re fighting an adversary.

Tribalism based on superficial, insignificant criteria — the computers or phones we use, the sports teams we like, the clothes we wear, the car brands we drive — is pretty common human behavior, and we fall into it easily.

But if you take a step back, you’ll notice that the whole discussion between these two groups is now based on a fallacious assumption. People have replaced the actual question they’re trying to answer — «how should this UI look and work?» — with a different, misguided question: «which of these two options should we pick?1

This is a false dichotomy.

A few years ago, there was an argument going on in the Apple community about the iPhone’s mute switch. The mute switch only turns off some alerts, not all of them, which sometimes causes the iPhone to sound an alarm even though it is muted. Very quickly, people took sides, some arguing that the iPhone should not make any sounds when it is muted, others pointing out that this would inevitably cause people to accidentally miss important alarms. Eventually, as always happens, people started arguing that, since this dilemma could not be resolved, it should just be a setting, so everybody could make a personal decision as to which failure — accidentally sleeping in, or accidentally interrupting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 — would be preferable to them.

But again, if you take a step back, you’ll notice that the options presented — mute mutes everything, mute doesn’t mute alarms at all — are not the only two options. For example, if the phone is muted and an alarm is triggered, it could start out by turning on the screen, then, if the user doesn’t react after a few seconds, start buzzing, then slowly increase the volume of the alarm. This would give the phone’s owner time to notice the problem before the New York Philharmonic’s conductor has to stop the performance, but it would still wake up a sleeping person — maybe half a minute later than scheduled, but that’s well within an acceptable range in almost every situation.

In creative endeavors,2 tribal, black and white thinking can be problematic, because it prevents you from noticing all possible options. Whenever the discussion veers from «how can we solve this problem» to «should we pick option A or option B», you need to take a step back, and ask yourself — and your team — if these are really the only two options.

Is there any kind of middle ground?

Are there entirely different approaches we didn’t consider?

Are there valid concerns the other group is raising, and can we take these concerns into account without completely dismissing our own concerns?

Most often, the answer to all of these questions is «yes.» Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, figuring out that there actually is middle ground is often difficult. If you find yourself in the midst of one of these tribal moments, your best option is often to just table the topic, and pick it back up once people have had time to turn their brains back on, and reconsider their own positions under a more rational light.

And by the way, there are multiple solutions to the «button problem» I mentioned at the top of this piece. Coming up with a few is left as an exercise for the reader.


  1. In the end, you could aways create some prototypes and do a few usability tests to see if hiding the buttons really works, but the argument for hiding them isn’t really a usability argument, it’s an aesthetic argument. If we don’t hide them, the UI looks bad. back

  2. And elsewhere. back

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Geoffrey K. Pullum:

Virtually nothing useful about English grammar can be learned from Strunk. Setting aside a few standard conventions of punctuation, which barely deserve to be called part of the grammar, the grammatical claims Strunk makes are foolish assertions like that however in the sense «nevertheless» cannot be correctly used to begin a sentence; or that none of us cannot take plural agreement; or that passive clauses are inherently bad; or that they cannot have a singular antecedent (so No parent would harm their own child is a mistake; Strunk insists it should be No parent would harm his own child). Strunk condemns words as familiar as very or clever or system, and phrases as ordinary as six people or so warm or the student body. His booklet is replete with hogwash about English.

You can see that Strunk is telling untruths if you simply take a look at the usage in high-quality literary works published when he was in his prime. His claims not only aren’t true of English now; they never were true at any time in the history of the human species.

I read Strunk and White because a lot of people recommend it. Having finished it, I came to the following conclusion: Strunk and White’s only redeeming factor is that even the people who profess to love it don’t actually follow its rules.

I will also second Pullum’s recommendation of The Sense of Style.

Addendum

When people criticize Strunk and White, they usually talk about the section on «words and expressions commonly misused» (if they’re commonly misused, it’s probably not misuse at all; that’s how language works), and the section on the passive voice. These sections are bad, but they’re not the only things that are wrong with the book.

Here’s another rule that I think is harmful: «place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.» This rule makes your sentences harder to read, because words that contribute significantly to the meaning of the sentence are placed at the end of the sentence. In other words, you have to read the whole sentence before you can start to parse its meaning.

The example used in the book illustrates the problem. It offers this perfectly readable sentence:

Humanity has hardly advanced in fortitude since that time, though it has advanced in many other ways.

As a reader, you can parse and understand this sentence easily, piece by piece, while reading it. Unfortunately, the book suggests replacing the sentence above with this:

Humanity, since that time, has advanced in many other ways, but it has hardly advanced in fortitude.

In order to understand what the words at the beginning of this rephrased sentence refer to, you have to read to the very end of the sentence. You can’t parse this sentence piecemeal, you have to read the whole sentence before you can figure out what it is trying to say. This is not an improvement.

Paul Thurrott:

In the years since [its initial release], Microsoft has slowly removed all of Windows Phone’s key differentiators. And it appears that the release of Windows 10 this year will be the final death knell for this beloved platform.

(…)

Specific Metro design ideals that have been stripped away to nothing include hubs and panoramic experiences, pivot-based tabs, single-scale UIs that don’t let the user change font sizes or colors, and app bars and app menus. Today’s Windows Phone does have live tiles, but the rest of the system seems cribbed from the iPhone and Android playbook, with hamburger menus and other bland UI.

(…)

And now even the Windows Phone brand is gone, just the latest in a long line of capitulations over the past five years.

When your platform doesn’t sell, you obviously have to make changes. I just can’t help but think that the things Microsoft is changing in Windows Phone (and Windows proper) aren’t the things that caused these platforms to fail, but instead the things that caused them to stand out, to be unique.

Being like everybody else is not the path to success. If your platform is exactly like everybody else’s, but less popular, nobody will have a reason to switch to it.

I’m not sure if Microsoft isn’t learning the wrong lessons from its failures.

Brianna Wu:

The week before last, I went to court to file a restraining order against a man who calls himself “The Commander.” He made a video holding up a knife, explaining how he’ll murder me “Assassin’s Creed Style.” He wrecked his car en route to my house to “deliver justice.” In logs that leaked, he claimed to have weapons and a compatriot to do a drive-by.

After the crash, he sent me a deranged video that Jezebel called “bizarre” and “terrifying.” Sam Biddle of Gawker said that if this happened to him, he’d be “locked in a closet rocking back and forth.” For me, it’s just another Tuesday. My capacity to feel fear has worn out, as if it’s a muscle that can do no more.

This is not just a problem of a bunch of angry, frustrated kids, letting out their frustration on people they probably feel jealous of. There are actual adults in positions of power who contribute to the problem. Wu writes:

When Twitter is completely ineffectual at handling harassment — it’s because women don’t truly have a seat at the table in running it. We don’t have a voice. They tell us they’re going to do better.

When Wikipedia’s highest ruling board chooses to discipline only feminists — it’s because 9 out of 10 of its editors are men. They tell us they’re going to do better.

When a Silicon Valley founder sends a woman reporter a gift basket with a dildo and K-Y jelly then doesn’t understand why it might be offensive, it’s because most of the venture capital system and the tech entrepreneurs are men. We don’t have a voice. They tell us they’re going to do better.

Amazingly, the field of video games is the most misogynistic area in all of tech. The lead writer of Ubisoft’s hit franchise Watch Dogs angrily denied that Gamergate was a hate group, calling such statements a “smear tactic” and an “obvious lie.”

In related news, Wu’s game, Revolution 60, was put up on Steam Greenlight, where gamers vote on games to be made available in Steam — basically the only Windows online games store that matters. It’s no longer available, because, predictably, people used the game’s greenlight page to attack Brianna Wu. It should be noted that Steam’s online conduct rules include this:

You will not: Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.

Steam’s subscriber agreement allows them to terminate the accounts of users who violate these rules. As far as I know, Steam has done absolutely nothing about this.