App-a-Day: POP

By Andy Feng on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015


Hello everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day! Happy Hump Day! Today’s app, POP, is a special treat to all my fellow designers and app developers out there. POP is an acronym for “Prototyping on Paper”, which pretty much explains exactly what the app is used for.

The POP app is designed to take photos/screenshots and quickly stitch them together to create a fluid, transitionable user interface prototype. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick-and-dirty scribble you jotted down on the back of a napkin or a polished, perfectly photoshopped selection of UI screenshots, POP will quickly bring your designs to life, giving you practical preview on how each design element will look and feel when put together.



Most great designers know that having a nice looking UI is only part of the equation, that the real challenge comes from delivering a great user experience. Creating a fluid, engaging, and memorable user experience is no easy task, often requiring copious amounts of time, energy, and real user feedback to nail down and is integral to the success or failure of a product or company.



This aspect of design is called UX, also known as user experience design. In most startups today, UX and UI go hand-in-hand and are usually entrusted to the same person. This is not to say that UI and UX are interchangeable and that they mean the same thing. In simplest terms; UI is how your app looks, UX is how people use it, how they “feel” when interacting with the product.



Designing an exceptional and intuitive UX is often extremely difficult yet can be approached in a very straightforward way. Come to think if it, the approach to designing a good UX can be summed up in a single word… Simplify.



Simplify the experience. Make it easy to use. If a certain function currently requires three taps to execute, think about how you can simplify that to just one tap, or better yet, zero taps! Successfully streamline and simplify how users interact with your product in every way possible and you’ll end up with the best possible user experience. It’s that simple.



Ok, so enough with the design lesson already… Let’s get back to today’s app, POP. The ability to rapidly prototype your designs empowers the designer to be able to “experience” the design without having to build the whole thing out. It allows us to test not just the UI but also the UX! This is where the magic happens.



Ever wonder why hardware is so much harder to get right than software? One of the reasons: It takes significantly more time to prototype and test out products made of atoms as opposed to bits! Hardware designers aren't afforded the same luxury that their software counterparts have with tools like POP.



This is a big reason as to why although 3D printing is much less affordable compared to traditional fabrication techniques, there’s still a huge demand for reliable 3D printing products. Where 3D printing currently lacks in affordability and scalability, it more than makes up for in speed and efficiency to prototype testable designs. That’s the game changer.



Thankfully for us software designers, when it comes to rapid prototyping, we have an array of reliable solutions, one of which is today’s app, POP ( Other notable products and services in the same playing field include Marvel (, Invision (, and newcomer Atomic ( All these companies are competing to solve the same problem; to make it easier for creators to quickly test out their ideas.



While all these companies deliver exceptional products, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, I chose to feature the relatively unknown POP app today because in the end, I’ve genuinely found it to be the easiest to use out of all the others. And because of that, I use POP the most...


Remember what I said before about simplifying things for the user? This is just another example of where although a certain app might not be as flashy, feature-packed, or powerful as some of the others, it wins out in the end simply due to great UX. And by great I really mean simple.. as in simple to use... because I’m lazy… and I’m guessing most other users are too. Why tap twice when I can tap once? Ain’ nobody got time for that!!?


App-a-Day: Medium

By Andy Feng on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015


Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day! If you follow this blog regularly then you might’ve noticed that yesterday’s edition was a little different. Yesterday, I wrote about a small messaging app, Jott, that’s growing increasingly popular among teenagers in junior high and high school campuses. But instead of describing about what Jott is and what it does, the article I wrote yesterday focused more on the bigger picture behind why apps like Jott are able to succeed and some of the bigger issues relating to Social Media companies in general.



Now, if you’re a regular reader of my App-a-Day blog series then you’ll notice that my writings are generally lighthearted and I’ll throw in a joke or two here and there. I try my best to have a little fun with my blogs because honestly, I just don’t have the time, energy, or focus to produce a polished and insightful article every single work-day… But every now and again, when I’m hitting on topics that genuine intrigue me, I can get a little carried away.... I’ll put on my big-boy pants, pretend to be a respectable writer and dive into the more serious stuff.



Granted this does not happen often, but on days when I feel that I’ve produced writings that are more polished and worthy, I’ll publish it on Medium. (Yes, I made a meme for this...)



Medium is new age publishing platform designed to quickly showcase insightful articles written by people from all around the world. Think of it as the ultimate modern blogging platform, elegantly designed to be stupid easy for users to quickly post and consume high quality reading content, wherever they are, across all platforms. The Medium app works just as well, if not better than it’s web version.



Medium understands the modern reader. They understand that people today seldom have the time or patience to sit down in front of a monitor and commit to reading a twenty page article. They understand that users today consume content on-the-go and have very limited attention spans (perhaps a reason why Twitter is so popular…Oh, and not to mention, Medium was created by the same people who founded Twitter). Medium content is extremely easy to share, bookmark, and recommend. You can even follow your favorite publications and individual users to stay up to date on all new articles they publish.



Medium is a blogging forum for content that can’t be summed up in only 128 characters but also don’t warrant a full fledged ten page article. Medium lives in this middle space, the space in between simple tweets and long, polished articles. This “micro-blogging” space. I guess you can say that Medium is a medium for publishing medium sized articles. (Yo dawg….)



My favorite feature is that every Medium article has an estimated read time conveniently stated on the initial screen. Depending on the length of the article, they’ll show you just about how much time you’ll need to commit before you even start reading so you’ll know if you have the time or not. The article I published on Medium yesterday took me about three hours to write but it turns out that it’ll only take you about four to five minutes to read… talk about efficiency.


In summary, Medium is the perfect platform for both modern “micro-bloggers” and professional content publishers. Designed for the modern reader and streamlined for maximum efficiency. Medium is essentially a grown-up version of Twitter. If you’re looking for great articles to read, go download the Medium app or go on and search for Andy Feng. (In case you have trouble finding me, just look for the one with the best looking profile pic and don’t forget to click follow!)


App-a-Day: Headspace

By Andy Feng on Friday, June 5th, 2015


TGIF and happy Friday to everyone out the reading! Not sure if you know this already but today is National Doughnut Day! Yep, that’s right… Every year, America has an entire day dedicated to celebrating sugary circle snacks! Amazing right!??



Anyway.. Back to business. Today is Friday, and if you’ve been following up on App-a-Day, you’ll notice that on Fridays I generally steer away from all the more serious or work related topics that I’ve touch on throughout the week. No no.. Fridays are sacred. On Friday we plan for the weekend.



The weekend is a time for us to relax, to unwind and unbend our body and mind, rehabilitating some of the mental and physical damage incurred throughout the work week. Now, for an aching or fatigued body, there’s nothing some good ol’ fashioned sleep can’t settle. However for a enervated mind, there is no quick fix.



The app I’m introducing today is called Headspace, and it’s sole purpose for existing in this world (or in your phone) is to help you improve your mental health through meditation. Headspace is a immensely well designed, elegantly gamified meditation regimen that’s designed to guide you through the process of attaining and sustaining a healthier, clearer, and more peaceful mental state. Think of it as massage therapy for your brain.



Now, I’ve heard a lot of great things about meditation… but being the immature and skeptical person I am, I’ve always found it a little weird and fatuous to sit in one spot, doing nothing for minutes on end, staring blankly into the distance. Come to think of it, I’ve never really even attempted to practice meditation in real life, despite all of its supposedly awesome benefits.



Headspace is a really cool app to try if you’re serious about starting a meditation regimen and for those who are ready to dedicate time towards improving your overall mental health. If you’re even considering meditation as something you might wanna try, I highly recommend you start with Headspace. Besides, Emma Watson seems to like it.. so it must be magical! (..see what I did there?)



The app itself is very well designed and the UI looks amazing. To be totally honest, in the beginning, I only tried the app because I really liked the overall style and design of the app.



Delving deeper, I discovered that the meditation programs were intuitively designed to walk you through each individual session and the instructor had a really calming voice. He’s also british.. and a monk...and he’s also named Andy!



The moments after I downloaded the Headspace app was the first time ever that I’ve tried meditating. I put on the 10 minute program and sat on the floor of my apartment, staring blankly into the distance. For a whole 10 minutes.. Did it work? To be honest I don’t feel any different..  Although I would recommend turning the TV off before you start… I eventually ended up just sitting on the floor, watching silent TV for 10 minutes while the program was playing. So fail..



In summary, Headspace puts a playful twist on meditation by making it a daily, progressing journey, and is designed to guide the user through the process of learning how to effectively meditate. Although meditation might not be for everyone… for those of you who do have the patience, getting into a consistent and efficacious meditation routine may just prove to be a life changing experience. After all, who doesn’t need some extra zen and clarity in their lives? Hey, maybe I’ll give it another shot, one day when there’s a power outage and there’s no TV or internet..



That’s it for this week. I hope you all have a relaxing weekend and don’t forget to subscribe to our Wechat account and follow our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with our latest blog posts. Have a great weekend and see y’all next week!




App-a-Day: iBillionaire

By Andy Feng on Thursday, June 4th, 2015


Hello everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day! Yesterday we talked about free stock trading app Robinhood. Today we’re going to continue on that topic and introduce another interesting financial app.



With Robinhood, you can instantly buy and sell stocks conveniently from your mobile device. The process of trading is now streamlined and simplified to the point where you can do it almost anytime, anywhere, with only a few simple taps from your phone. That’s great! But buying and selling stocks has always been the easy part… The real challenge is picking the right stocks and trading them at the right time. Robinhood simply gets you into the game, now it’s time to play it.



When it comes to picking stocks there is no ultimate formula and more often than not the element of sheer luck is what separates success from failure. The stock market is for the most part unpredictable and any investment, big or small, comes with it’s corresponding risk. Sometimes more, sometimes less. However… It always helps if you do your homework and do your research before you commit. This is where today’s app comes into the picture.



Today’s app is called iBillionare and essentially it’s an app that shows you what kind of stocks known billionaires are investing in and how well their portfolios are performing. Remember before when I said it helps to do your homework? Oh, I wasn’t talking about actually researching the companies.. (although you might want to do that too..). Another approach is to let the professionals, geniuses, and insiders do the heavy lifting and to keep an eye on the moves they make. After all, these people are billionaires for a reason right?



iBillionare is a cool app that gives you a window into what all the big boys are up to. In all seriousness though, it’s definitely a bad idea to only follow blindly what others do and not think for yourself before making any kind of investment. However, taking into consideration the investment strategies of some of the world’s most wealthy individuals might not be such a bad idea before pulling the trigger on your next major stock purchase. It’s just another resource to help you along the way.



The iBillionare app itself is pretty straight-forward. You can follow your favorite billionaire and choose to receive alerts when they make major moves. Want to see how well Warren Buffet’s portfolio is doing? Simply tap into his billionaire profile to view all his positions and see what stocks are providing the biggest return. With iBillionaire, users can also view performance rankings of the biggest winners and losers of the day or throughout the whole year. It’s like a billionaire stock portfolio battle royale! Ok, not really… But regardless, it’s interesting stuff if you’re either looking into or are currently investing in stocks.



In summary, iBillionare is worth checking out if you’re interested in seeing what the world’s wealthiest professional investors are up to. You shouldn’t take the app too seriously but with the proper research and preparations, it just might help you find that next dark-horse stock that’ll make all your hard work pay off. Investing in the stock market is and always will be a highly emotional and risky endeavour. Just remember to invest based on facts and not impulse, it’s always wise to do your homework beforehand and use whatever resource you have available to help you make a better decision. Don't be like Spiderman..


App-a-Day: Robinhood

By Andy Feng on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


Happy hump day everyone! Welcome back to App-a-Day, a mini-series of blogs where I introduce a different innovative mobile app everyday for your reading pleasure.



Today in App-a-Day we’re going to talk stocks. As in tools that help you better navigate the financial landscape and assist in your investment activities. We’re going to continue with this theme all throughout next week because there’s a multitude of great financial apps that I want to introduce to you guys that might help with your investment process.  



Today, we’re starting with the very basics. I’m looking for a simple tool to help me buy and sell stocks. Now, instead of diving into what’s already available, let’s take a step back and approach this problem in a different way. Let’s take a look at what the ideal solution would be. In an ideal world, if we could build a stock trading system from scratch, build it from the ground up, using today’s technology and disregarding all previous restraints and entrenched processes. How would you build it?



Let’s see… First of all, it would have to be really easy to use, super efficient, and highly secure. A lot of time should be spent on perfecting the user experience, making it ridiculously easy and quick to deposit and withdraw funds from my account. The trading process itself should be streamlined to minimize the number of clicks required to finalize the deal, accompanied with a concise and intuitive interface to display investment statistics and metrics. We would have easy access of all these functions straight from our mobile devices and lastly… In an ideal world… It would all be FREE!



It seems a little far-fetched, but ideally, that’s more or less what we would want out of a modern trading platform. And for those of you who are interested in or already investing in the stock market, I’ve got great news..


Introducing.. Robinhood! An all-in-one mobile stock trading service designed for the modern world. Robinhood encompasses everything I've described above and is completely free to use. There is currently a waiting list but generally speaking, you simply download the app, create your account, deposit some money into your account, and within a few minutes you can buy and sell stocks straight from your phone, all for free!! Robinhood offers zero dollar trades. Zero. Ziltch. Nada…



How do they do it you ask? How can they sustain such a seemingly ludicrous business practice? Well, it’s actually quite simple. Robinhood re-imagined and simplified the stock trading process, building their product from the ground up, bypassing traditional inefficiencies and designing it with common sense, for modern users. They’re an agile start-up that leverages technology to innovate and disrupt traditionally static industries, filling in the gap between what can happen and how things are happening. Other companies fitting this profile? Uber, Tesla, AirBNB perhaps?



Robinhood is the new kid on the trading block, targeting younger, relatively inexperienced traders with the goal of making stock trading easy and accessible to everyday folks. Their strategy is to first perfect their system and build up their user-base by offering convenient, free stock trading and eventually monetizing their efforts by charging for premium services such as commodities trading, futures trading....etc. They want to get the millennial generation on board first with their simple, mobile-first, free stock trading app and then as those initial users mature into more seasoned traders, provide them with a selection of more advanced premium features at a cost.



Overall, Robinhood is a great stock trading app for beginners, or for any experience level really… It’s totally free to use and easy to set up. The service is currently only available in the US and Australia but they’re working hard to expand into other overseas markets in the near future. From what i see, innovative companies like Robinhood, although relatively small today, have the potential to redefine and reshape entire industries, significantly impacting the way we live our lives in the future. Will Robinhood live up to its promise and truly shake up the financial landscape? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure though... In this day and age, no company or industry is immune to disruption. We live in a world where it’s no longer the strongest who survive. Today, it’s whoever’s the most adaptable that get to live on… because change is the only constant… and from the looks of it,  things are changing very quickly.



That’s it for this edition of App-a-Day and thanks for reading. Please follow Hanhai Studio’s Facebook page to stay up to date with new postings and check out our official blog page to see all previous editions of App-a-Day. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about billionaires and how you can see what stocks they’re buying.





App-a-Day: Pocket

By Andy Feng on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


Happy Tuesday everyone. Today’s App-a-Day is short and sweet. We’re going to piggyback off of yesterday’s post about Slack and introduce another nifty productivity tool that’ll make your life a little bit easier.



Slack is great for messaging and sharing with teammates, but sometimes we need to share things with only ourselves. These are the times when we stumble upon that insightful article or funny gif link and want to save it for later.



We could bookmark the link, email it to ourselves, or even post it in a Slack group with no one else in it. All these solutions work just fine, but I've found that by far the easiest and fastest way to save links for later is with a small app called Pocket.  



Pocket is simple plugin that will allow you to save web or mobile links with a single click. Users can browse saved links using the Pocket app or directly from their browser. There’s not much to explain. Pocket is one of those singular focus apps that just works. It does one thing very very well and that thing happens to be saving and bookmarking your links.


That’s about it. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re regularly saving links to browse later, try using Pocket. It’ll make your life a lot easier and you’ll never lose another link again. So the next time you run into a link you wanna save, you can simply put it in your Pocket….

App-a-Day: Slack

By Andy Feng on Monday, June 01, 2015


Hello and welcome back to App-a-Day! Hope everyone had a fun and restful weekend. Today is Monday.. the day where even your coffee needs a coffee..



But hey, all joking aside, Monday is the perfect day to really buckle down and get stuff done, setting the tone for the rest of the week. I’ve introduced a couple of productivity and work related apps in past editions of App-a-Day. Apps like Any.Do, and Sunrise Calendar help you to be more organized but if you’re really looking to maximize your work productivity and streamline inter-team communication then you gotta have, yes you guessed it.. Slack!

Slack is the mother of all work apps. In a highly general sense, Slack if your Facebook for work. It’s a uber powerful platform that makes it easy to connect, share, store, and communicate with team members, making it extremely easy to collaborate with everyone on your team in near real time. Yes, emailing team members memos, documents, and files has officially become obsolete.



Today, Slack has developed to be one of the few Unicorn companies of our age, raising over 340 million in venture funding to date. But it’s interesting to note that the hugely successful Slack we all know and love today was once just a curious and simple side-project, born out of necessity rather than ambition.


Slack was originally developed in a company called “Tiny Speck” to improve internal team communication during their push to create an online video game called “Glitch”. In the end, the game itself didn't make much of an mark but boy did they find a giant pot of gold under their new teamwork tool we now all know as Slack.



Tiny Speck has since re-branded their company as Slack Technologies and has successfully (and quite ironically) pivoted from what was originally a gaming company, whose product is designed to eat away at your productivity, to an international team collaboration platform, aiming to optimize teamwork efficiency.



Today, thousands of companies and teams use Slack to streamline internal collaboration for all kind of projects and work tasks. The platform allows users to share important messages,  documents, files, and videos directly with another team member or with the whole team. Slack’s sharing settings are highly customizable and the overall interface is simple and intuitive.



Users can link their Slack account with Dropbox, Google Drive, Github.. etc, and have convenient access to all their project related files straight from Slack’s interface. And best of all, everything connected to Slack will be easily searchable from one central search-box so you won’t ever need to worry about finding that lost file from months ago secretly stashed away somewhere in your deep abyss of folders and drives.



Speaking of apps though, the Slack mobile app is a great tool that greatly complements the web experience. The app allows users to remotely access their Slack account and quickly follow up on project details. Another useful feature is the ability to have a real-time notifications when something requires your attention, further helping to streamline internal team collaboration and improve efficiency.



In conclusion, you should try using Slack if you find yourself working on anything requiring teamwork and collaboration. Slack’s sole purpose is to make it easy for you to work with others and vice-versa. So if you haven’t done so already, go download the app and cut you and your hardworking team some much needed slack..



Teamwork make the dream work!




App-a-Day: Fandango

By Andy Feng on May 29, 2015


TGIF! Happy Friday everyone! Boy, that 8.8 earthquake yesterday sure was crazy! Amirite?.. Most of the buildings I’ve passed by this morning seems to still be standing so that’s a good sign. Whew..  really dodged a bullet there. (**sarcastic voice)



For those of you who don’t know, there was a silly rumor going around the past few days that Southern California was going to experience an 8.8 magnitude mega-quake on Thursday, May 28th. How they came up with such an exact and detailed prediction I do not know…


Oh wait, I actually do know.. It’s pretty obvious to me that this whole debacle was all a big marketing ploy to get people to go watch the new earthquake movie San Andreas! And hey... I guess it worked since I did go see the movie last night!



I went to watch it in AMC Prime, the one where they have super comfortable seats that you can adjust up and down. But moreover, those seats must have had some kind of vibration system installed inside since my chair was shaking like crazy throughout the movie.. I could quite literally feel the earthquakes in the movie! It was awesome! If you plan to pay money to see San Andreas, I highly recommend seeing it in AMC Prime or D-Box. This is probably the one movie where I’d say it’s worth it to pay extra just to feel the trembling.



Anyway.. We’re here to talk apps right? Right! Today’s app is Fandango, a nice little movie app that let’s users easily view and buy movie tickets straight from their phone. In fact, I got my San Andreas tickets from Fandango. I went to look up showtimes for the movie, selected the seats I wanted, and boom.. I’m in!



There’s really not much to say about Fandango. The app makes it quick and easy to browse and purchase movie tickets. Everything is done within the app and they’ll even text you your digital tickets, which will get you in the theater. It’s real easy.



The only thing with movie ticket apps like Fandango (and the previously mentioned Flixter app by Rotten Tomatoes), is that they’re not universal and might not work with certain theaters. That’s why it can be a hassle sometimes to switch between apps to book tickets from different theaters, but hey, Fandango seems to have one of the largest selections to book from so it’s certainly worth downloading the app if you’re into watching movies.



Oh, and one more interesting fact I forgot to mention… here in LA, we don’t just watch movies, we “screen” them (**sarcastic voice again)... Here audiences will actually applaud during climaxes and when the movie is over. Is that normal or is it just an LA thing? I’m actually really curious to know.

Feel free to leave your comments below and as always, have a great weekend!




App-a-Day: Venmo

By Andy Feng on May 28, 2015


Happy Thursday everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day, the blog series where I profile and introduce a new mobile app everyday for your reading pleasure.



Today’s app is a payment/wallet app called Venmo. Venmo is one of the quickest and easiest ways to pay friends using nothing but your phone. The app is designed to simplify the process of p2p mobile payments and is entirely free to use with your debit card or bank account. Venmo is great for paying friends when sharing a bill, for times you forgot your wallet, or for anytime you need to pay another individual in general... This app basically takes away all your excuses for not paying someone back.. Thanks a lot Venmo...



Founded in 2009 by former UPenn roommates Iqram Magdon-Ismail and Andrew Kortina, Venmo was a huge success right off the bat and within only five months from launch, gained enough popularity to be acquired by Braintree, a major payment processing service, for $26.2 million.  That turned out to be a great move as Braintree was later acquired by eBay’s PayPal in 2013 for a whooping $800 million, making PayPal the owner of Venmo instead of its main competitor.



Today, the p2p payments game is already swimming with competitors, with new high-roller players like Facebook Messenger and Google Wallets vying for their own piece of the multi-billion dollar payments pie. Not to mention the growing influence and acceptance of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (or some may argue Dogecoin?...), slowly but surely coming into the picture.




Nonetheless, The Venmo app has cemented its position on consumer’s phones mainly due to the incredible success it had with initial market penetration. It’s actually really simple... If I use Venmo and all my friends use Venmo to pay each other, then if I happen owe you money and you want that money to be paid back in a quick and efficient manner, go download the Venmo app..



Services like Venmo make it easier for you to pay others but more importantly it makes it a lot easier for others to pay you! Now that’s what I call a killer value proposition. Do you wanna be paid? Yes? Ok, get Venmo. (or you can carry around an ATM machine on your back everywhere you go, that’ll probably work too… But I’m guessing that’s not something Lucas would do. #Wompwomp..)




PS: In case you’re bored, google “Lucas uses Venmo”..

App-a-Day: Acorns

By Andy Feng on May 27, 2015


Happy hump day people! So there’s a weird new bug out there that crashes your friend’s iPhone when you text them this message:




لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ



I've tried it on a few friends and I've been able to confirm that it actually does work! Some are calling it the Unicode of Death. Other’s say it’s a ISIS conspiracy to take over our phones! Good job Apple… You've just created the ultimate trolling tool and now nobody’s getting any work done.



Anyway, back to business. Today’s app, Acorns, is micro-investing app that saves up and invests your spare change to grow your money over time.



The app is named Acorns because it represents how squirrels and other critters bury acorns in the ground and forget about them, eventually resulting in new trees being grown.



Acorns wants you to bury your spare change with them, forget about it for a while, and eventually watch it grow into something bigger!

The Acorns app connects with your credit or debit card and will automatically round up the change for all your purchases until it accumulates to about five dollars. Once this limit is reached, Acorns will add this money into your Acorns investment account and use it to invest in a number of different positions including large company, small company, emerging market, and real estate stocks, as well as corporate and government bonds.


Now, normally we wouldn't be able to invest only a few dollars into stocks and bonds but Acorns in effect does all this for us, automagically and without us even knowing it. Acorns combines all the spare change of all it’s users and uses this larger, combined sum to invest in an expertly selected, highly diversified array of different holdings which will slowly grow your funds over time. Quite clever.



Once you have Acorns set up and working, the money really does start to add up. After a few months you’ll find what was once a $20 account now has over $150 saved up in it. The best part, money in your Acorns account is free to withdraw anytime with only a few taps from within the app.

In summary, go download Acorns from the app store if you want to save up your change and have the chance for that money to grow and appreciate over time. Acorns is a slow and steady approach to wealth accumulation and won’t make you rich overnight, although it might surprise you sometime down the road when you serendipitously find that acorn you planted many years ago has now grown into a crime-fighting Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.


App-a-Day: SoundHound

By Andy Feng on May 26, 2015


Hello and welcome back to App-a-Day! Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend. Today’s we’re going to talk about a handy little app called SoundHound.



SoundHound is song recognition app that scans whatever music is playing in the background and instantly gives you the name and corresponding info of that song. It’s great for music lovers who want to build their playlist or simply want to know what’s the name is of that new song on the radio.



The SoundHound app is directly integrated with Spotify and Rdio so it’s really easy to add newly discovered songs to your existing playlists. The app is extremely simple to use and the interface quick and responsive. Once the system recognizes a song, there’s immediately options to listen to the song, bookmark it, look up lyrics, or share with friends.


SoundHound is a simple yet useful app that really comes in handy if you’re into discovering new music. It’s free to use and is available on iPhone, Apple Watch, Android, Windows, and yes... even Blackberry.

Have a great Tuesday! 


App-a-Day Twitch

By Andy Feng on May 22, 2015


Hey guess what??



It’s Friday!!

TGIF! Happy Friday and welcome back to App-a-Day, the super awesome daily blog series that introduces a hot new app every day. On Fridays I like to feature apps that are a little more lighthearted and entertaining, apps to help you kick-start your weekend.


Yesterday I was chatting with my coworker Kharissa and she told me I should write about Twitch because she know a lot of gamers who don’t know about it. Of course my first reaction was: No way?? That’s ridiculous.. obviously all gamers know about Twitch right? Don’t they teach you that in gamer school 101? If you’re into video games then how could you possibly not know about Twitch?




Well, in any case, today’s Friday so we’re going to talk about the Twitch app. For those of you who've yet to discover the magical world of Twitch, prepare to be edumacated!



Twitch is basically a live streaming version of YouTube for video games. It’s a platform where thousands of users stream live videos of themselves playing all the latest games for your entertainment. You can find just about any relevant video game readily available on Twitch and get a glimpse into live streaming gameplay free of charge, straight from your computer, tablet, or phone.



Since its official launch in June 2011, Twitch has come a long way to becoming the hugely popular unicorn it is today (Twitch was acquired by Amazon for $970M in September 2014). On top of perfecting all the technology required to deliver a seamless live streaming experience for both the gamer and his/her multitude of viewers, Twitch had to figure out a way to get people interested in watching other people play games. On that front, a lot of things had to fall perfectly into place for Twitch to be successful and luckily for Twitch, just about everything did.


Here’s how..


For those of us who were born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, we’re all classified as the “Millennial Generation” also known as Generation Y. Our generation of kids grew up playing all kinds of video games and as even as we slowly step into adulthood, various aspects of video game culture will forever remain a treasured part of our identity, something we can all relate to.


A lot of us still love to play video games, but as we grow older we find that sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day to get enough sleep let alone play video games.. Nowadays, being excited about finally buying that new game and immediately marathoning through it for hours on end is a rare luxury few of us can afford. Even if we did have time to spare, there’s just so many great games out there that it would be impossible to experience them all. And not to mention, playing through and beating a video game is hard work, often requiring extensive amounts of time, energy, and dedication to master a single game and to get the full experience. Do you got time for that?



This is where Twitch comes in. With Twitch, even though I’m not playing the game myself, I’m still able to experience the journey and follow story arc of the game and it’s characters through the streamer’s gameplay. I’m getting most of what I would otherwise buy the game for, for free, all without having to expend any energy and effort actually thinking about playing the game.



There are many reasons people use Twitch. Most users log on just to follow their favorite streamers and spectate on whatever they play. Others go to observe world-class tournaments and try to find ways to improve their own skills. E-sport competitions have been growing exponentially in global popularity year after year and Twitch has been at the center of it all, sponsoring events dating back to 2011 and streaming live matches exclusively available on the Twitch platform.



Some gamers, like myself, are just curious to see what the fuss is all about regarding that new game release. Lately I've been watching a lot of Witcher 3, which was released on May 19th. That game has a really interesting storyline and some super badass visuals, it’s basically a free roaming Game of Thrones type world with way more monsters and magic.



Twitch have grown increasingly popular because it has created a sharing community for gaming experiences. It allows people to experience gameplay, together with a group of fellow gamers, through the eyes of your favorite streamers. All for free, and with minimal commitment or effort required on your end.


So hey, if you’re a gamer and you don’t know about Twitch then you’re welcome.. and welcome to 2015.. (kidding of course.. but then again, I’m still pretty sure those people don’t exist...)



Wow, I just realized how long today’s post is.. For those of you who made it to the end, thanks for reading. Oh and by the way,it’ll be three days before my next App-a-Day post since Monday is Memorial day and people are strictly forbidden to do any work on national holidays..


That’s it for this week, have a great rest of your Friday and hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend. Let the games begin!



App-a-Day: Sense

By Andy Feng on May 21, 2015


Hello everyone! Today’s edition of App-a-Day is slightly different, today I’m going to review the Sense app by Sense is a hardware product designed to monitor your sleep environment and provide useful insights into ways you can improve sleep quality. The app itself only works if you have the hardware setup linked to it so I guess today’s review is more of an over product review rather than the traditional app review.



Why change things up today you ask? Well... because after backing their Kickstarter campaign almost a year ago, last night I finally received my Sense device and got to try it out for myself. Better late than never right? (chough* Lockitron* cough cough**)


Ok, so here’s the basic run-down of what Sense is. The main product, the Sense ball, is a little ball of lights and sensors that you place next to your bed. It comes with a smaller clip-on “sleep pill” that attach to your pillow and together, they track your sleeps patterns and the environment around you while you’re asleep.



Sense can track when you've fallen asleep, how well you've slept, as well as external variables such as noise level, temperature, light, and humidity. All this data is collected from the Sense ball and Sleep Pill and neatly displayed and recorded in the Sense App on your phone. Sense makes sense of all this data and calculates a “sleep score” for each night.



Last night after using Sense, the app shows that my sleep score was 80 (out of 100) and that I only slept soundly for 1.4 hours… not sure if that’s normal?

It’s obvious to you right out the box that the creators of Sense really put a lot of effort into the overall design of both their hardware and corresponding software products. There are no buttons or messy wires, the Sense ball lights up in different colors after you wave your hand on top of it. Green means everything is good, orange means something's wrong and your room is not optimal for sleep. The hardware feels extremely well made and setting up all the systems was a piece of cake. Basically plug and play.



The app itself is nice and simple and displays all your sleep and environmental metrics. It also comes with a smart alarm feature that allows the Sense ball to play sounds to wake you up during the optimal time in your sleep cycle. Users simply wave their hands over the Sense ball to turn off the alarm.



After tying it out, I’d say that from what I've seen so far, Sense is a really well thought out product that more or less delivers on what they promise. The smart alarm is quite useful and even after using it just once, I did feel the difference as it made getting out of bed slightly less painful this morning. The app looks nice and presents all the data collected in a way that’s easy to understand. The hardware is cool to look at and blends into the background. It’s like one of those products that just works without the user having to do much at all.




In conclusion, Sense is a great gadget that will help you gain insight into how well you sleep and what you can do to make it better. Will this information actually make a positive impact on your sleep quality? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll find out over time. One thing’s for sure though, we could all use some better sleep…..



App-a-Day: Spotify

Wednesday 5-20-2015


It’s hump day! Happy Wednesday everyone. Today we’re talking about Spotify, the immensely popular music streaming service. And yes, I know you probably already have it on your phone or have at least heard about it at some point.



Why write about something most people already know about you ask? Well, on any other day this would be just another colum trying to tell you what you already know. But today is different..



Today, in New York City, Spotify announced to the world that it is no longer just a music service. The company is planning to add a bevy of new features to make Spotify the all-in-one entertainment jukebox.



New features include enhancing their already spectacular selection of curated playlists fit for almost any mood or occasion, adding a special “Spotify Running” tab that has the ability to sense your movements and draw up music with BPM’s that match your pace, and finally the introduction of video streaming on their platform.



Spotify has partnered with an array of different content producers including ABC, ESPN, TED, MTV, Comedy Central... among many others to bring video streaming and podcasts to their platform. With this new update, users can enjoy music, stream videos, and listen to podcasts all while in the Spotify app.



The new features seem cool and Spotify obviously know what they’re doing, but only time will tell if their new direction will fly with mainstream users. Although it’s quite clear that in the cut-throat tech landscape we live in today, innovation is key to survival, it’s also true that with every new big feature release company's risk over complicating their service and delivering a bloated product.



Don’t get me wrong, I love Spotify and use the app almost every day. I can’t wait to try out their new update and play with video service but until I do, I remain a skeptical to this new pivot. Because essentially what Spotify is announcing today that the company is no longer a music streaming service, it’s now an entertainment streaming service.


App-a-Day: 1Password

Tuesday 5-19-2015


Happy Tuesday everyone! Today’s edition of app a day is going to be short and sweet. The app we’re going to feature today is called 1Password, an app that neatly keeps track of all your internet passwords.



How many different accounts and logins do you have? 40? 50? Who knows?? Let’s be honest.. it’s a crazy hassle keeping track of all that login info and most of us are just too lazy to write things down. And even if we do, we eventually lose track of where we wrote it..



The 1Password app makes it extremely easy to store multiple account logins and passwords on one single, highly secure, easily accessible app. No more forgetting that weird password or username that always auto-fills but for some reason today it randomly asks you to manually fill it out. Sometimes the world is just out to get you.



1Password uses one master password to securely lock away all your sensitive account information. The master password is usually a long passphrase like “youshallnotpass”.. and no, that’s totally not the passphrase I use on my account.. or is it?

1Password is available on multiple platforms and syncs all your data automatically. They even have a Safari and Chrome extension to make it even easier to securely login to your accounts. Moral of the story, make a habit of logging all your new account info into the 1Password app and never forget another password ever! Simple.

App-a-Day: Telegram

Monday 5-18-2015


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to App-a-Day. Today’s app, Telegram, is inspired by a very interesting and thought provoking article I stumbled upon this morning. The article is published in Mashable and is titled “A long way from Moscow - ‘Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg’ took on the Kremlin and lost his country and the business he build,” written by Christopher Miller.



In the article, the writer (quite accurately, I might add) refers to billionaire Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov as “Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg” and tells the sobering story of how he went from superstar founder and CEO of Russian social media giant VKontakte, one of the richest and most influential people in the tech world, to a dishonored outcast, fired from the company he helped build and banished from the country he once loved.



“VKontakte, meaning ‘in contact,’ is Russia’s most popular social network, dwarfing Facebook and Twitter in Russia with its more than 69 million monthly users.”



Pavel Durov, along with his brother Nikolai and business partner Vyacheslav Mirilashvili founded the company in 2006 to rival up-and-coming Palo Alto based social network Facebook. VKontakte was a huge hit in Russia and quickly became the most popular social network in the country, trumping Facebook and Twitter.



That was then. At the young age of 22, Durov was at the helm of social media unicorn VKontakte, he was a multimillionaire celebrity, he was on top of the world.


Today, at age 30, although still considered extremely successful, Durov is no longer head of VKontakte. Currently residing in New York, the Russian entrepreneur spoke with Mashable about his tremendous journey from being one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Russia, to being outcast by his own government, losing all control of the company he helped build.





The Mashable article describes this in length and is a very interesting read.

Long story short, in recent years the Kremlin has become increasingly aware of the potential social and political impact online services like VKontakte can make and have begun ramping up efforts to censor and control the flow of information.



Pavel Durov, who is known for his cynical attitude towards the Russian government, of course did not cooperate. The young entrepreneur went so far as to write, “on Victory Day when Russians celebrate their defeat of Nazis, that Josef Stalin had ‘defended from Hitler his right to suppress the Soviet people.’ a satirical remark that drew the ire of many Russians at the time of mounting nationalism.”

In late 2011, when the Kremlin demanded that VKontakte take down anti-government groups and block the profiles of key opposition leaders, Durov did not budge. Little did he know at the time that his actions of defiance against Russia’s political powers would eventually cost him his country and his job.

In the wake of his fallout with the Russian government, losing his company in the process, combined with the news of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s flight to Moscow, Durov realised that security from the prying eyes of corporations and governments was a growing and frightening concern.





Which brings up back to today’s app. Telegram



Telegram was created by Pavel Durov. A faster and more secure messaging app. With over 50 million users worldwide, the app has since earned its place among privacy conscious users. Unlike many other messaging services, Telegram vows to never spy on its users.



“Durov insists there are no outside investors involved in Telegram - and there never will be. He learned his lesson with VKontakte.”


Telegram’s messaging service is lightning fast and the overall app experience is exceedingly fluid, but Telegram’s biggest selling point by far is its extremely secure encryption protocols that keeps user’s conversations private. It’s “secret chats” feature provides users with an added level of security.

The app itself is free and has no ads.  Behind Pavel Durov, Telegram has firmly positioned itself as a strong proponent of internet privacy and security in an age where governments, corporations, and agencies are vying to track your every move.

App-a-Day: Sunrise Calendar

Thursday 5-14-2015 (& Friday 5-15-2015)


Happy Thursday everyone! Today’s App-a-Day is a special extended edition that counts for two days! Two days worth of App-a-Day stuffed into one super-long blog post extravaganza! ganza!... ganza.



In today’s special edition of App-a-Day we’re gonna be featuring a truly rare specimen, a diamond in the rough type app that despite fighting among hordes of competitors, had managed to rise above the rest and has since solidified it’s place in app history. I’m referring to the one and only Sunrise Calendar



Due to the lackluster and bland nature of Apple’s native calendar app, there was an interesting phase a few years ago when everyone and their mamas were building calendar apps. It seemed like the cool thing to do at the time. And as a result, we were presented with tens if not hundreds of calendar apps that ranged from great to absolutely worthless. It was a calendar app big bang!



But to be fair, calendar apps are just inherently hard to get right. They've got to present tons of information in a limited amount of space, all while remaining flexible and easy to use. Even Apple, with their gang of brilliant engineers and cutting edge design aptitude (not to mention practically unlimited access to capital) couldn't get it right.


Sunrise is a superior calendar app in both form and function.


First let’s talk form. The aesthetics, the design and flow of the app. The interface is simple and clear, presenting only the most relevant information to the user at first glance. The first page you see when you open the app contains all the scheduling stuff you’d care about in the upcoming days. Users can scroll up and down to easily view events in the past and future. Everything is presented in an organized and efficient manner, helping to eliminate clutter and to create order among chaos.



The function side equally impressive. If you’re like me, then you have multiple calendar accounts that you use for work, personal, or whatever. For me, I have three google accounts, one outlook, and one apple account that all have their corresponding calendar schedulings that I need to pay attention to. Let me tell you.. things can get out of hand quick.


Now, how do I handle all that craziness? I’d have to switch between multiple accounts and shuffle through five different apps right? Wrong! Ain nobody got time for that??!


I use Sunrise! The Sunrise app lets you link multiple calendars from different accounts. They categorize and label all your various activities and neatly presents everything all in one place. Once the accounts are linked, no matter which calendar you modify or update, everything gets synced to Sunrise automagically and order is restored in the world. Brilliant!


Sunrise has always made it easy to schedule new events and meetings. Today, they’re stepping up their game once again with their new product update and the introduction of Meet. Meet is a new Sunrise feature that is “the fasted way to schedule a one-to-one” meeting with friends and acquaintances. The feature itself is pretty straightforward and it makes confirming a time slot so much easier. Check out the video can see for yourself.



Once you have the latest version of Sunrise, all you need to do to get Meet working is to enable the Meet keyboard in your settings and BOOM. Now you can access the Meet feature anywhere you use your keyboard and start blowing people’s minds when you send them time slot selections in the matter of seconds! And when friends ask how you did that you can say you learned it in wizard school.

In summary: Sunrise calendar is the calendar app to end all calendar apps. One calendar to rule them all. Link all your different accounts to Sunrise and have everything neatly organized in one place. The app is extremely easy to use and is thoughtfully designed to remove clutter and make order out of people’s convoluted schedules. The new Meet feature is a keyboard that lets users schedule meeting slots with an unprecedented level of ease and efficiency. If you’re a busy professional and haven’t downloaded Sunrise already, try this app and you can thank me later.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend everybody and if you like the blog, please give us a like on Facebook and stay up to date with all new blog posts.

Have a great weekend!



Written by: Andy Feng

**Follow Hanhai Studio's Facebook page to stay up to date with our latest blog posts. 



App-a-Day: TunnelBear

Wednesday 5-13-2015


Hey camel! Guess what day it is?! Today is Wednesday, that means it’s hump day! …Unless you live in Asia, in which case you’ve already passed the hump and well on your way to the weekend already… Congratulations you lucky future people!



Speaking of Asia though.... With great power come great responsibility as there are certain costs for living in the future and getting to experience Thirsty Thursday before the rest of us in North America. What costs do you speak of you ask? Well, let’s see...



Do you live in a country where internet censorship is commonplace? Have you ever been frustrated because you couldn't reach some of your favorite sites or programs due to your location? Do you care about protecting your privacy and having the peace of mind of knowing that your network is always secure? Do you want to check out an app because it just looks freakin' awesome??



If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you should definitely check out today’s app, TunnelBear. TunnelBear is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app that harnesses the raw power of a ferocious grizzly bear to help users tunnel around pesky censorship walls, fend off unwanted network intruders, and viciously maul down requests from tracking services so they won’t even have a chance to load their pathetic scripts on your computer/mobile device.


That’s right, your TunnelBear will literally sprint out and MAUL down intruders and tracking requests! Is that even legal??




Using the app, you get your very own personal “Tunnel Bear” that acts as your virtual bodyguard and tunneler.. Tunneler. Is that even a real word? Anyways.. what that means is that the bear will dig a tunnel from wherever you are now to a new location in select countries around the world. That new location is where your VPN is now set up. So if you live in Beijing and wanna watch some funny cat videos on YouTube (YT is censored in china), TunnelBear will help make that happen by tunneling your virtual network to somewhere in the US, where YouTube is obtainable and your desire to binge on cat videos is socially acceptable. It’s okay, we understand you.



VPN services are traditionally rigid and boring. We use it sometimes because we have to. Every time we use it, we always wish we didn't have to..

TunnelBear did the unthinkable and made using VPN cool! They made it fun. They thought about the the sentiment and the emotions their product evoked within its users and innovated around the fundamental user experience. That’s how you make a killer product. If you haven't already tried the app I highly recommend you go download it now. I mean, who wouldn't want to see a fierce looking grizzly bear maul advertisers and shoot lasers beams out of its eyes?? I need more of that in my life.



In summary; The TunnelBear app is a straight gangsta looking, easy to use, feature packed VPN service that is guaranteed to be the most fun and entertaining VPN you’ll ever use. TunnelBear is perfect for mobile/web users who live in areas where a lot of online content is blocked or for people who just want a secure internet connection to protect against exploitation from outside intruders. The app is free to download and comes with 500MB of free usage per month (1G is you tweet about it). The unlimited plan for iPhone costs $2.99/mo or $29.99/yr. Pretty good deal if you ask me. So go download the app and try it out for yourself.


Happy Hump Day!


Written by: Andy Feng

**Follow Hanhai Studio's Facebook page to stay up to date with our latest blog posts. 


App-a-Day: WildCard

Tuesday 5-12-2015


Hello and happy Tuesday everyone. Lots of things going on in the world today! Another major earthquake hits Nepal.. George Zimmerman is in the news again, apparently someone shot at him while he was driving, and Tom Brady has been suspended 4 games by the NFL for cheating! (but just to be fair.. Just like Jon Snow, he knows nothing..)



Speaking of news, in the second edition of App-a-Day I introduced two mobile news apps, Yahoo News Digest and Funny or Die’s News Flash. Today’s featured app is called WildCard and can be classified in the same category. These are all apps that aim to provide users with the latest trending news in the most efficient way possible.


WildCard presents a new, faster way for people to consume news and information from the mobile web. The app draws from multiple online publication sources and aggregates all the latest news, articles, trending topics… etc and displays them in the form of ‘cards’. These nifty little content carrying cards provide a quicker and more efficient way to discovering and consuming news on your mobile device.



Unlike Yahoo News Digest and FOD’s News Flash, WildCard goes beyond just curating a handful of stories each day. It takes a more customized approach to quick-and-dirty news delivery. Users can enter specific topics into WildCard’s search bar and the app will present all the corresponding cards associated with that topic. Think of it as a faster and more efficient Google but specifically for news topics.



WildCard works because unlike traditional news outlets, its entire card based news delivery system is deliberately designed for mobile consumption. The user interface is streamlined to deliver quick and informative news cards that link to longer articles from the original source. The app is made to save people time by giving them a quick glance of currently trending news and by allowing users to search for specific topics they’re interested in.

In summary, WildCard is great for busy people who want to consume news but only have a few minutes a day to spare. The app is a mix between Yahoo News Digest and Google. Like YND, WildCard presents users with bite-sized, mobile-tailored news cards that are designed to be consumed quickly and efficiently. Moreover, WildCard goes beyond what YND has to offer by showing users what’s trending and gives them the freedom to search for particular topics they’re interested in.

App-a-Day: Any.DO

Monday 5-11-2015


Good morning and happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a fun and relaxing weekend. Today is Monday… That means it's time to put on the big boy pants and get back to doing responsible adult stuff. Great..



But hey, things aren’t so bad once you have everything clear and organized right?? Uh.. I guess?.. Ok then you’re in luck my friend because today’s app is designed to do just that. Of course I’m talking about the super awesome and elegantly simple task management app Any.DO.



Any.DO takes an incredibly minimalistic approach to task management and although quite powerful in feature set, the overall UI remains consistently clean and simple as you use it. The general theme and underlying philosophy of the app is to help keep things clean, organized, and simple “so you have a clear path moving forward”.



I've been using Any.DO ever since it was made available to iOS users in 2012 and since then they've made a series of improvements and new feature additions to their product. When Any.DO first launched, it was a simple to-do list app that was designed to help people keep track of their lists.



Today, Any.DO is expanding their scope to full on task management and team collaboration, landing them in the same category as Trello or Slack. Any.DO now has the power to automatically sync with all your devices and integrate with your phone contacts so you can call or text directly from within the app. Other features include sharing and delegating tasks, the ability to write notes and comment on tasks, attaching files to tasks… etc.



In summary, Any.DO is a powerful yet minimalistic task management app that strives to eliminate some of the clutter associated with being a busy, responsible, hardworking adult. The app itself is elegantly designed and easy to use; bringing forth some much needed clarity and zen to your otherwise hectic and never-ending list of to-do’s.


Any.Do is available to on:




Chrome Extension

Web App