Kindle App vs iBooks on iOS 13

Amazon isn’t exactly known for its design capability, yet I am relatively pleased with the Kindle App on iOS 13. Below is a brief comparison between the two apps in terms of features and UX.


The Kindle app offers different options to adjust the font, the theme, the spacing between rows, the brightness and the view.

With the exception of the ability to change spacing between rows, all the other features are very similar to what iBooks provides. Personally, I appreciate the green theme available on Kindle.

Looking up and translating words

Additionally, readers can translate, look up unknown words and learn more about them via Wikipedia inside the Kindle app handily. All readers need to do is to select the word and the features are automatically presented.

On iBooks, it’s a little bit different. After clicking on a word and choosing “Look up”, readers will be taken to a page that includes various options related to the word in question

Taking notes

It’s a little bit frustrating to take and copy notes on iOS. As the short video shows, users have to select a block of text manually again for any use.

If users want to use the copied text somewhere, iOS has a default footnote that comes with every single copy. The note itself reminds users of the title and author at hand, but it creates another step that becomes annoying if repeated.

On Kindle, taking notes is a bit easier. A whole block of text can be chosen and copied with only a touch of your fingertip. Additionally, there is no default footnote as in the case of iBooks.


Kindle has one feature that is absent on iBooks: Flash Cards. It’s pretty handy for those that like to take notes and come back later to test their memory.

In short, the two apps provide very similar core functionalities. The difference comes, I suspect, mainly from special use cases. Personally, because I often copy quotes and notes from books to this blog in my book review entries, I prefer Kindle to iBooks.

The stark difference in how airlines display their purchase policies

During a purchase process of a flight ticket, interested buyers like you and myself care a lot about the policies such as those on baggage, change, rewards redemption, cancellation or refund. The longer and more expensive a flight is, the more we want to know about the policies of such a flight. Let’s look at how some of the popular airlines display their policies

Cathay Pacific – Great

It’s easy to see the important policies on Cathay’s flights.

Emirates – Great

You can see the difference in policies across tiers. It gives the audience a chance to compare the options and select what works best for them.

Eva Airways – Good

Eva Airways opts for a text-based presentation of policies instead of bullet points and icons like Emirates and Cathay. Even though the information can be read easily enough, there is room for improvement

Delta – Acceptable

Delta spells out whether a flight can be changed or refunded, but the UI is not as user-friendly as other airlines that we have seen above

Singapore Airlines – Great

Similar to Emirates or Cathay, Singapore Airlines makes it easy for travellers to see what they are paying for

Korean Air – Good

Even though the comparison is easy to spot, the information leaves something to be desired.

American Airlines – Below average

The airline displays some basic information, but you’ll have to click on the baggage and optional fees on the bottom left corner to have more details. Even then, it’s not really easy to digest their complex policies

United Airlines – The absolute worst

Look at these chunks of text. The airline doesn’t seem to want their customers to know what they are paying for. The use of text instead of visuals is bad enough. They manage to make it worse by using capitalized fonts which are not user-friendly AT ALL.

Customers do buy services or products deemed good value for their money. Subtly and implicitly scamming customers doesn’t generate much trust or goodwill. In a cut-throat industry, trust and goodwill can be the difference between prosperity and struggles.

Booking flight tickets in Vietnam

Since the infrastructure in Vietnam isn’t quite developed, flights offer arguably the most convenient method of transportation, especially if you are traveling over a far distance. Flight tickets can be booked through a travel agent, at an airline office or through the airlines’ websites. In this post, I’ll walk you through the different techniques airlines use to charge you more and how much these webistes leave to be desired


Starting with Vietjet, you can see how the fare jumps from 99,000 VND to 504,900 VND. It’s fairly deceiving, but it’s not an uncommon practice. You just need to be aware that what you see isn’t going to be the final price you pay

After filling in passenger details, you see the fare jump again from 504,000 VND to 755,000 VND. The seat selection is automatically chosen for you

As are the luggage and insurance options. You’ll need to remember to turn these off unless you really want them

Vietjet charges you 55,000 VND to process credit card payments, a bit higher than what is charged by others. Nonetheless, they repeatedly declined my Chase credit card, even though it was accepted by Bamboo. It is intriguing because the number of Vietnamese who live in the US and return to travel within Vietnam is significant. Declining a legit American credit card while your competitor accepts it is really mind-blowing. It at least cost them my business with me

Bamboo Airways

Bamboo Airways is a new airline. I have heard both good and bad things about it. Several of my friends praised it for its services while a close friend of mine got delayed for 7 hours on one of her flights. To be fair, she was compensated, but I still want to have it out here for the sake of disclosures

The fare jump in the screenshot below is nothing special or extraordinary. It seems a common practice in this industry

But at least Bamboo keeps the interface fairly clean and doesn’t automatically force extra options on guests

It processed my ticket very quickly and accepted my Chase American credit card without any hussles. 50,000 VND for processing the payment compared to 55,000 VND by Vietjet


Let’s talk about what I think is the worst of the bunch. Jetstar. Common extras and fees on top of the fare, nothing special to complain about here

Like Vietjet, it automatically chooses a luggage option for guests that would force them to pay.

Even after you said no, they still persist. Here, you have to consciously choose the right on the left.

They automatically choose a seat option for guests

After the processing fees, they still want to charge you 15,000 VND for having an itinerary sent to your phone!!!

Vietnam Airlines

Different from other airlines, Vietnamairlines presents the sum of fare and fees.

They do not try to trick you into buying a luggage option. They also have an option for communication via Zalo, which is a popular social media channel in Vietnam. However, they could have removed the news on the right hand side to make it more minimalist and less cluttered

They have several payment options and each comes with some strings attached

  • If you buy a ticket at a Vietnamairlines office, the fees are 100,000 VND per ticket per passenger
  • For collecting the ticket at home, tickets have to be paid for at least 48 hours before the departure time
  • Payment through wire transfers or ATM must be made at least 4 hours before the departure time
  • It seems they only accept cards from domestic banks and payments need to be at least 12 hours prior to departure times

I am pretty annoyed by all the tricks and practices that Vietnamese airlines employ on their website. They can also design the websites to be more user-friendly. Bookings through their own websties are the most profitable as there is no commission to a third party involved.

Weekly readings 18th May 2019

How does WeWork make money? A good write-up on WeWork and its business model.

Saying goodbye to Microsoft. A personal account of the author’s time at Microsoft. Sometimes, the grass on the other side isn’t as green as we thought it was

The professor who beat roulette. A very nice piece on a relatively less known subject and historical figure.

Many Hospitals Charge Double or Even Triple What Medicare Would Pay. Read it and let it sink in. The insane healthcare system here never ceases to amaze me

The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre of 1902 Did Not Go as Planned. A case of incentives leading to unwanted outcomes.

There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans.

How Uber Makes — And Loses — Money. Hats off to CBInsights. They delivered a really good piece on Uber.

Dark theme. A cool post on how to design a dark mode nicely

Introducing Translatotron: An End-to-End Speech-to-Speech Translation Model. This is one of the things I like most about Google. Hope the service will be widely available soon.

Editorial: Why Apple created Apple TV+ rather than buying Netflix. I can see the merits of the “Apple should by Netflix” argument, yet I agree with the blog post.

The State of Gen Z. A nice profiling of Generation Z. The part on their slangs is pretty interesting.