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This is a bad picture, but I wanted to start the email with something other than text. It's a collection of old Chinese beer bottles and matchbooks. 


There are moments in everyone's life when they are pushed too far for too long. Where every day is a coin toss on whether today's going to be the day that you actually for real complete lose it. 

Such were these past two weeks. 

We were working +65hrs a week to complete our project on schedule. This week has been an insane week of bug crushing, compatibility testing, and long hours to finish new features. I've been keeping a diary of all of my experiences developing here under the direction of a friend of mine. I think it will make for a good retrospective.

Now onto the next project...and hopefully a life where I don't eat dinner in the office and catch the last subway home. 

Chinese Apps

I think something that could be fun is take a look at some popular Chinese apps. Because China has blocked the entrance of Western technology companies, many copycats have appeared to fill the void. The lack of clear competitors allowed the Chinese companies to flourish and grow to dominate the market here in China.

There are many minute, but important differences between the mobile app ecosystem in China and the United States. An interesting one is that there is no real use of a common login system (think "Login with Facebook"). Furthermore, essentially any app is reliant upon users having a Chinese phone number before signing up. Whereas in the states, most times you can opt to not enter your phone number, and sign up with email that is never an option. A phone number is unique identifier of choice for most apps.

虾米: The Streaming Service to Rule Them All

It's going to sound a lot like I'm being paid by Xiami (which means shrimp rice btw, and no I don't get it either), but I am in fact just an adoring fan of their product.  
Xiami is one of the most popular music streaming apps in China. They have a shockingly large collection of music available through their site entirely for free. I also haven't seen or heard mention of an advertisement while listening. Xiami is WAY more feature packed than iTunes or Spotify. Chinese companies fully give themselves to feature bloat and attempt to build an environment where every one every customers use-cases are handled in app. Phone apps being able to do many many different things is expected and enjoyed by users.

Mood Radios

You can listen to music to fit your situation or mood. This is not at all dissimilar from Spotify, 8track, or Pandora.


One immediately noticeable differentiator is song lyrics. Most songs have synced, sing-along style lyrics. If the song is sung in anything other than Chinese, both the original language and the Chinese translation are shown. On my Android, the lyrics animate in even from the lock screen.

Save Music

Any of the music available on Xiami can be saved to your phone directly for offline listening. Phone apps / phone OS's are extremely conscious of limiting data usage. I get warnings every time I attempt to download anything whilst on my data connection. So in this context, Xiami users can choose the download quality according to the data they are willing to use to complete the download.

Listen to Something Different

This is Discover Weekly with a twist. 听见不同 (Listen to something different) is an endless radio mode that focuses on bringing you new music. You have a slider at the bottom of the screen to select just how adventurous you are feeling. On the left is "Conservative", in the middle is "Balanced", and on the right is "Radical". I like the ability to determine how adventurously different my music discovery should be.

Music Alarm

You can create an alarm from your Xiami music. It's a really simple feature, but the convenience of it makes me wonder why I haven't been able to do this before now with any of my Spotify playlists. 

Changing the App Color

Many apps allow you to change the apps appearance according to your preferences. This ranges from simply altering the theme color to adding themes from popular tv shows, movies, and designers. You can change the color of the app. 

Pictured here is altering one of the custom themes (notice the buttons at the bottom).

Environment Effects

You can alter the sound of your music to sound like it's being played in a whole host of different locations. Some of the options available are city, car garage, kitchen, auditorium, or cave.

I honestly don't get this at all. I have never wanted to hear how Blank Space would sound in a Parking Garage. But it's here and you read it. 

DJ Mode

Have you ever wanted to have a collaborative playlist with your friends? Anyone can add music, everyone listens, and can comment / react to song choices. Even though you may be in different rooms, classes, states or even timezones, you would be listening to your music together.

Xiami doesn't quite solve that use case, but DJ Mode is certainly a lot of fun. DJ Mode lets you queue up music for a "room". You can choose the background animation, customize the picture name, tag the room with genres, and then share it with friends. Popular rooms are also browsable for users to drop in on.

Left: A public DJ room I joined. Right: The playlist for my own DJ room

While you are listening, you can comment / react with emojis live for the room to see. Additionally, you can ask to become a DJ for the room and queue up songs for the room to hear.

There is a whole lot more that Xiami has and can do, but most of that relies on Chinese to show off. Particularly the social components, which allow you to follow postings from your favorite artists and see what your friends are listening to. There is also a great music video browser / player. 
There is a whole lot more that Xiami has and can do, but most of that relies on Chinese to show off. Particularly the social components, which allow you to follow postings from your favorite artists and see what your friends are listening to. There is also a great music video browser / player. 

in closing: a poem

Roses are Red
Violets are...intrinsically Violet

Similarly to how 
Oranges are Orange
Nothing rhymes with Orange.

Please stop 
teaching our childern

In hindsight, a poem may very well not be the best venue to make a point about academic integrity...

Keep Striving Upwards!

-- Timboslice
Copyright © 2017 Timothy Blumberg China Trip, All rights reserved.