Creative review: An app that lets users browse through wallpapers, homescreens of people worldwide


This new personalisation app is quite like a social network. For starters, you have to sign up for an account. You can choose to log in using Google, Facebook or Twitter. On the app’s home, you can browse through wallpapers, ringtones and homescreens of users from all over the world. For wallpapers and ringtones, when you find one that you like, you can directly download it to your phone. When it comes to the homescreen setup of other users, you can view which launcher app they’re using, which icon pack and which widgets. You’ll also get download links for these from within the app itself.

If you like another user’s work, you can follow him/her and get updates whenever they post something new. You can also upload wallpapers and ringtones on your own profile to share it with other users. Compared to a typical wallpaper app, this is a good way to discover how people have customised their own Android phone. The only irritating bit is the persistent banner ad at the bottom. There’s no way to remove that at the moment.


Google Play’s New Subscription Center Starts Rolling Out, Lets Users Easily Manage Their Subscriptions

Google Play's New Subscription Center Starts Rolling Out, Lets Users Easily Manage Their Subscriptions


  • Google Play is rolling out the new Subscription Center
  • The new center opens each of subscriptions in a full page
  • Developers will get a chance to add deep links

Google Play has started widely rolling out the new Subscription Center that was announced at I/O 2018earlier this year. The newest development is designed to make it easier for Android users to manage their recurring payments from apps and services. Notably, the new hub comes as a one-stop shop to manage subscriptions on Google Play. The search giant is also adding a list of tools to uplift the app listing experience for developers. These are heading to developers using the Google Play Billing Library that received an updated version at I/O.

Among other developments, Google Play has added the redesigned Subscription Center that lets Android users easily view all their subscriptions, including the subscriptions of apps and services, and see their details and status. Each subscription in the main list comes with a larger icon, and the text listed on the Subscription Center is clearer over what was available in the past. Subscriptions listed on the new center also show their monthly/ yearly rate and their next renewal dates.

Unlike the previous version that was overlaying a menu to manage subscriptions, the redesigned Subscription Center opens each of the subscriptions in a new page once tapped. The fresh full page view includes options to let users easily update their primary payment method and add a back up of their existing payment method. Similarly, there is a larger Cancel Subscription button over the original Cancel button. Google has also added a cancellation survey that emerges once a user cancels a subscription. This survey will give developers feedback as to why the user is cancelling the play subscription center Google Play Subscription Center

The new Subscription Center also has a “Get Started” link for all those users who are yet to begin with the subscriptions on Google Play. Once tapping the link, the screen shows apps and services through curated and localised collections. Google has also added deep links to direct users to manage their subscriptions directly from the app, over email or via the Web.

For developers, there is an enhanced billing experience through which the deep link can be added as a button or link from anywhere within their app. Google Play Console will also soon receive the ability to let developers easily ask users to accept a price change without having to set up a completely new SKU. Users will be notified about the change via emails, push notifications, and in-app messaging. Google also at the I/O revealed that there will be the ability to upgrade a subscription without changing the user’s expiration date. Additionally, developers will be able to issue a partial refund from the Play Console or refund specific subscription renewals instead of refunding just the one. Developers will also get the option to use their order IDs with the server-side API and use the Refund API with the Google Play Developer API. These features require the Google Play Billing Library version 1.1.


Zoho Chartistic Lets You Easily Create Graphs and Charts

Zoho Chartistic Lets You Easily Create Graphs and Charts
Zoho Chartistic is free via the App Store
It lets you make graphs and pie charts
The app is very easy to use
Numbers and data are a part of everyone’s lives whether they release it or not. From simple things such as a sheet for daily expenses, to more complex things like a scorecard, charts and graphs definitely make numbers a lot less intimidating. We find it much easier to visualise data when looking at images as opposed to trying to remember numbers.

Zoho Chartistic is a free iPhone app that lets you make charts and we used it to find out whether it works for our charting needs.

The USP of Zoho Chartistic is making it easy to create charts, and the app is certainly easy enough to use. Hit the + button to create a new chart, and the app asks you to choose one out of five types of charts. Each of these are represented by icons only, which is a good thing considering this app is for people new to making charts.

Once you select a chart, the app creates a chart with some random data. This is again a nice thing because you don’t have to figure out how to create a chart. Quickly we figured out that swiping downwards lets you edit values manually, and dragging any of the nodes lets you adjust values on the chart itself. Swiping sideways opens the settings menu where you can adjust a bunch of details such as whether or not you want to see the grid and borders.

zoho chartistic expenses Zoho Chartistic

The charts we made using this app looked quite good but the app’s interface could use some improvements. While flipping between different chart modes we discovered a bug that took half the chart off the screen; the only fix was to force quit the app. We encountered another freeze when changing multiple options in the settings menu. We tested the app on an iPhone 7, so the bugs are not due to slow or old hardware, but likely down to the fact that it’s a new app and not all bugs have been ironed out yet.

The settings and editing screens don’t look anywhere near as neat and polished as the charts themselves, but they get the job done. We’d have liked to have finer control over which colour to use for which bar or pie, but this feels like a design decision to keep the app simple. Tapping a button flips all the colours on your bar or pie chart, so eventually you are likely to find a colour scheme you like.
One neat feature of this app is clip arts. You can download clip art through the app itself and use it to help people visualise data. We created one showing the globe and a man on it, to highlight humanity’s adverse effect on the environment.

Once you’re done with a chart you have to hit the Save button to prevent it from disappearing. This is another issue the app needs to address – automatic, cloud saving has become the norm with most modern applications, and having to hit save before quitting feels archaic. All apps should automatically save your progress no matter which stage you’re in. The app froze once while we were fiddling with settings and after force quitting, we lost the chart we’d worked on for 15 minutes. This is the kind of experience the developers should work to avoid.

zoho chartistic drought Zoho Chartistic

Once you’ve saved a chart, you can open it again anytime and continue editing. The app uses the standard iOS share sheet to help you send charts to friends or post it online.

If making charts and graphs isn’t something you’d normally do, Zoho Chartistic offers a fun way to make these. The app has a few issues that need to be ironed out but for the most part it is beginner-friendly and helps you turn boring, raw data into fun visuals.

Zoho Chartistic is a free download via the App Store.

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Tags: Zoho, Zoho Chartistic, Charts, Graphs, iPhone, iOS, Apple, App Store


Apple iMessage Update Lets You Send Payments, Edit Photos, More

Apple iMessage Update Lets You Send Payments, Edit Photos, More

Until very recently, the thought of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) ever opening its applications like other companies for developers with APIs and SDKs wasn’t even contemplated. The company is notoriously protective of its platform, so when it announced third party developers would have access to several of its applications, including Messages, which is the company’s most used app, at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference 2016 it felt like the dawn of a new era.

The new Messages framework in iOS 10 lets you create app extensions so users can interact with you directly within messages.  What this means for businesses and developers is, they can now create and share content with more features as well as real world solutions such as making payments without ever leaving Messages.

iMessage Update Details

With iMessage, apps developers can leverage the full framework to interact with Messages. This includes: presenting a custom user interface; creating a custom or dynamic sticker browser; inserting text, stickers, or media files into the Messages app’s input field; creating interactive messages that carry app-specific data; and update interactive messages to create games or collaborative apps.

The fun feature is Stickers, which lets you express yourself in more ways. This includes buying stickers from the App Store created by artists and developers with many imaginative options. Once you buy the sticker of your choice, you can adjust the size, send it in a thread or place it on photos, bubbles or other stickers.

The new features in the new Messages app on iOS 10 are:

  • Handwriting capabilities and personalization
  • Written text can be automatically converted to an Emoji
  • Tapback feature to quickly and visually respond to a message
  • Website preview in Messages
  • Listen to Apple Music directly in Messages
  • New bubble animations
  • Fullscreen iMessage animations
  • Conceal images or text behind an invisible message
  • New stickers on iMessage speech bubbles
  • Search for images and videos directly through Messages
  • Take pictures directly from Messages

For businesses that want to add real world functionality to Messages, they now have access to one of the most popular apps in iOS. The first solution that was highlighted at the Worldwide Development Conference 2016 event was Square Cash, an app for sending or requesting money with instant deposits to your bank account.

Once Square Cash is downloaded on your device, you can access it from the new iMessage “App drawer.” Pick an amount you want to send to a friend or pay for a service and attach it to a message, and with a single tap it will be deposited to their bank account.

Apple iMessage Update - Square Cash

This is not connected to Apple Pay, so the app has the limitation set by Square Cash. Make sure you read the instructions and bylaws carefully, because you are making your financial information available.

In addition to this payment system, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, demonstrated another iMessage app, DoorDash, an on-demand restaurant delivery service.

In the demo, Federighi was able to collaborate with a group to order lunch without leaving Messages. The order was then shared with everyone in the group through contacts in Messages and he added his lunch to the group ticket.

The iMessages features are in the development stage, so there weren’t many other apps made available during Worldwide Development Conference 2016.  There will undoubtedly be a large number of apps by the time the end user version of iOS 10 is available later in the fall.

Apple’s change in direction comes as the company is experiencing the first slowdown of iPhone sales in the company’s history. As hardware saturation continues to increase, Apple has to make itself more available just as Android has in order to give businesses more access to the iOS platform. We will have to wait and see what developers and businesses create, and whether Apple will make the rest of its OS available.

The developer page for iMessages is available here.

Images: Apple