I just updated the PCB and that's pretty neat indeed !
- No more series resistors, less soldering, smaller BOM (if you work @3.3V)
- LED orientation is less critical, more forgiving for assembly blunders (as long as the LED are reverse-wired, and you update the segment definition in the software)
- single-sided PCB ! Routing is even easier ! No need to connect every end of every segment, because they are chained in pairs :-)
So it looks like the protection diodes are a "feature" that can become beneficial if it is used creatively :-)
The Eagle file is updated as well and a PCB run is started, stay tuned !