Joining Samsung in Seoul

Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve accepted an offer from Samsung. Starting in September, I will be working in the Seoul office as a Senior Designer, helping to craft the user interface (UI) text for mobile devices.

Saying no to Samsung

The whole process with Samsung actually began a year ago, when they found me on LinkedIn and began recruiting me. At the time, I was still at Google, but I was nearing the end of my MA in Korean studies at Columbia and already planning a move to Seoul in the future. I went through the interview process, they made an offer. And I declined.

It wasn’t the right time. Yes, I wanted to move to Korea, but I had also been planning these six months in Southeast Asia for a long time. When I get to Korea, I want to settle there — to make it my long-term home. I didn’t want to find myself staring out the office window, wondering when I’d ever get the chance to go on this trip I’d been thinking about for so long.

I talked to my family about my decision, and my father passed on some words of wisdom from my grandfather, his father-in-law: “Money comes and goes, but you can’t make up time.” I went on the trip. I figured that if Samsung didn’t want me in a year, someone else would. I’d manage in Korea just fine.

Saying yes to Samsung

Well, a year passed, and the recruiter got back in touch. And this time, I was ready to say yes. After my longest stretch of time off since before nursery school, I’m ready to go back to work.

And I’m excited to work on mobile devices. My time here in Southeast Asia has given me a look at a part of the world where mobile is how people connect to the Internet, to each other, to the wider world. I’ve seen how important these devices are, and how important it can be to get the design right so that people can use their devices to the fullest.

My writing at Google was on specialized ads software. It reached thousands. What I do at Samsung will reach millions. Samsung sells more smartphones worldwide than anyone else. Making these phones even marginally better to use can have a vast impact.

I can’t wait.



Moto X Pure gives you wood

I’m a few weeks into using my new Moto X Pure, and I love it. It’s beautiful (mine is white, with a bamboo back and silver highlights), it feels good in the hand, and it is neither too large (Nexus 6) nor too small (Nexus 5).

Why I got a new phone

Last spring, when my first Nexus 5 was dying from a bad battery, I jumped up to a work-issued Nexus 6. It was so huge that it wasn’t quite comfortable in my pocket, but I liked the big screen, which made reading The New Yorker more pleasant.

Even more, I liked the big memory.

Ever since the 120 GB iPod Classic went obsolete, I’ve missed it. I use Google Play Music now, so in theory I could stream everything, but I like to have my music on my phone for when my connection is limited, and I love to shuffle my way through a big music collection.

Then I left Google, returned my Nexus 6, and went back to my Nexus 5 (I’d been given a replacement with a new and better battery). It’s a fine phone, but 16 GB felt like a straitjacket. A few bands’ discographies maxed out the memory to the point that I couldn’t update apps.

Why I chose the Moto X Pure

I wasn’t sure I even needed a new phone, but I looked at a lot of them. The Sony Xperia Z3 has nice speakers and is supposed to be waterproof, but Sony’s whole mobile strategy seems confused at best. The Samsung Galaxy line is pretty but very expensive and burdened with Samsung’s TouchWiz software. And I thought about holding out for the new Nexus 6P, which I knew would be a great phone offering pure Android.

But then along came the Moto X Pure, with two killer features — beauty and memory — and very little fluff on top of the Android operating system.

First, the hard facts: The Moto X Pure, along with its on-board memory (I went for 64 GB), lets you add an SD card with up to 128 GB. That’s a lot of music. The rest of the phone’s specs are flagship-worthy, if not always quite the very top of the line (Snapdragon 808 instead of 810, but who cares?).

Second, the soft stuff: The Moto X Pure is pretty. It looks and feels premium. Every phone I’ve had for years has been some variation on matte black or matte gray — Nexi One through 6, and before that an HTC Hero. The white front and especially the bamboo back are surprisingly satisfying. It might seem like fluff, but your phone is an accessory you look at and touch all the time. It makes a difference when that accessory is elegant and appealing.

The speaker quality has also been a pleasant surprise. This is my first stereo phone, and it sounds pretty amazing for what it is.

And the Moto software is mostly pretty good. I like the camera app, the motions, the notifications, the subtle tools that change how the phone behaves at certain times or under certain conditions. It’s never invasive and often smart.

We’ll see how it holds up over time and as I travel, but so far, I’ve loved the Moto X Pure experience.