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Soon every enterprise will need its own App Store

Digital transformation isn’t just a single wave, it’s a series of them, each one transformational – it’s an environment in which change is a permanent feature.

No one size fits anyone any more

We know every single Fortune 500 firm now uses Apple equipment in their business.

We know that many enterprises now offer their own proprietary apps and business processes, and we also know that incoming technologies such as RPA will continue to transform business practise.

We recognize that, given the choice, most employees will choose Apple kit, and we know those employees who do may be more productive, cost less in tech support and less likely to quit.

We also know that not every task requires the same toolkit, and that the very notion of apps favours development of software to address one single task well, rather than multiple tasks poorly.

Modular everything

Think about your business.

It’s likely you have different business units engaged in different tasks, each one with different resources and varying practical needs. Maps, spreadsheets, presentations, data analysis, field service manuals, passenger manifests, cargo manifests, location detection systems, data analysis, pre-emptive maintenance, warehouse navigation — look around and you’ll find most business needs now enjoy access to an ‘app for that’.

Particularly on iOS.

The problem is that while Apple’s App Store is by far the most secure shopfront for apps, it’s still not perfectly safe (nowhere is).

This has led many companies to white list specific apps while banning use of others in managed environments.

This leads inexorably toward scenarios in which enterprises will begin to create and populate their own internal App Stores.

These will deliver a mix of curated consumer and proprietary enterprise apps giving employers control and insight and employees trusted environments of choice.

Businesses recognise that in an App environment in which even the most secure platform provider is grappling with threats, while other platforms offer slick marketing to hid inherent weakness, it behoves them to put together their own source of truth.

In the form of an enterprise app store.

None of this is new

But Enterprise App Stores will become far more commonplace.

Many already exist.

SAP has its own SAP Enterprise Store, for example, but a recent Gartner report predicts 40% of workers will manage their enterprise apps in this way.

The model will only extend as incoming employees arrive to market with their own technologically sophisticated needs built as a result of a lifetime engaging with digital tools and App Store distribution.

  • These tech-savvy employees will digital tools to be as easy to access as downloading an ‘app for that’.
  • They will want intuitive user interfaces for those apps, will want apps that work together and will not want to navigate through confusing UI elements in order to find the function they need.
  • We already know employees will quit if the tech they use is worse than what they use at home, so there’s an HR need spurring this evolution.

Ultimately, this means enterprise app developers will approach app design from a widget-like approach, splicing business processes up into modules.

This will enable employees — already used to piecing together a bunch of different apps in order to get things done in the consumer space — to adopt a similar approach at work: They will select the specific apps they need in order to transact the tasks their specific role requires.

Some will use more apps, some will use less, but the overall impact will be that the friction of app use will be reduced and autonomy and simplicity should unlock productivity.

Employees will also be equipped to use third-party apps that have passed through the IT support vetting process and have been whitelisted to work across a company network – while enterprises will be able to sandbox emerging solutions for use by authorized employees, enabling agile business users to choose to use new tools that may augment the business need.

This gives employees the autonomy to use what are for them the best available tools for their job (including emerging solutions), while also protecting the business from hack, attack and user security slack.

The impact?

Enterprise app deployment becomes a frictionless user experience, just like consumer App Stores.

iPhone-wielding workers can use the best digital tools for the job, and the collections of apps used by workers can be changed in response to changing needs, nurturing business agility and digital dexterity.

There is a downside to this digital dance.

Not every company has the resources to launch its own proprietary app store, but there are service providers who may fill that gap.

At JNUC I spoke briefly with Setapp CEO, Oleksandr Kosovan. He was there to evangelize the SetApp for Teams service, which offers Mac-based enterprises access to a collection of useful productivity apps for a set fee. The idea is that these apps are curated by his company and enterprises can scale their app deployments to demand.

While this service is only for Macs, it’s no great leap of imagination to add links to enterprise-approved iOS apps and distribution to proprietary enterprise apps to this kind of curated and branded store.

While Kosovan’s is a consumer play with a background in consumer markets, firms like Arxan and others also offer proprietary App store solutions for enterprises.

And it’s possible the good times for this segment of the enterprise services business have only just begun.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Food fight: Slack and Microsoft trade barbs, sling stats in collaboration app battle

Competition between Slack and Microsoft over their respective chat apps has intensified recently, as the two companies clash over new usage stats – with Slack’s share price tumbling last week in the wake of new adoption figures for Teams.

Even so, analysts say Slack’s stickiness and strong user engagement offer it an advantage as businesses begin to adopt workstream collaboration software more widely.

Microsoft last week announced that Teams now has 20 million daily active users, up more than 50% from 13 million in June. The publication of those user figures appeared to have an immediate impact on Slack’s share price, which saw an 11% drop the following day. In fact, Slack’s share price has fallen by more than half since its public listing in June – an apparent sign of investor concern over its ability to compete with Microsoft long-term. 

Launched by Microsoft in 2017, Teams is available at no extra cost with certain subscriptions of Office 365; the suite has more than 200 million monthly active users. It competes with Slack and others in a team collaboration software market worth $3.5 billion this year, according to IDC analysts.

However Slack – which announced it has 12 million daily active users in October (up from 10 million in January) – has frequently called Microsoft’s user metrics into question, claiming it does not measure daily use the same way.

Daily active use and the battle of stats

The upstart contends that its customers spend more time using its application productively each day, with individuals logged in for more than nine hours, on average. This includes 90 minutes of active interaction, the company said, such as sending direct messages or reading posts in public channels. 

“As we’ve said before, you can’t transform a workplace if people aren’t actually using your product,” a Slack spokesperson said in response to Microsoft’s user figures, which it claims are overinflated. 

Microsoft said it defines daily active use as “the maximum daily users performing an intentional action in the last 28-day period across the desktop client, mobile client and web client.” 

Examples of such actions include “starting a chat, placing a call, sharing a file, editing a document within Teams, participating in a meeting, etc.”  Microsoft said it removes “passive actions” like auto-boot, minimizing a screen, or closing the app from its calculations, and de-dupes all actions across a single user ID. 

The spokesperson added there were 27 million voice or video meetings held in Teams in October, and 220 million “open, edit, or download actions” on files held in Teams. That equates to 11 such actions per user each month, on average.

Slack meanwhile said there are more than 5 billion user actions each week, such as reading and writing messages, uploading and commenting on files and interacting with apps.

Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight, said that the focus on granular levels of app use amounts to more than just posturing by Slack, serving to highlight how central the app can be to team workflows.

As Slack contends, its app is often central to a range of team interactions and workflows.

Ashenden said that, while Microsoft’s adoption figures are certainly impressive, much of Teams’ traction appears to center on meetings, thanks to Microsoft’s decision to essentially move Skype for Business Online and its users into Teams, rather than supporting employee workflow, as Slack claims to do.

“At the moment, Slack definitely has the edge in true workstream collaboration, both in terms of capabilities and customer usage,” said Ashenden. 

“Slack’s discussion about active interaction on the platform might sound pedantic, but it does highlight how central its platform is to its users’ daily activities – it’s part of their workflow, and this makes it very sticky.”

She added that, while Microsoft has made moves to improve Teams as a workstream collaboration tool, with renewed focus on integrations and automation tools such as PowerApps and Power Automate, it still lags behind Slack. 

“Until Microsoft gets a better story here, in terms of its communication to customers as well as its third party integration and developer/partner support, Slack’s position remains strong,” she said.

The gloves come off

Rivalry between the two companies has existed since Microsoft first announced the creation of Teams in 2016. Slack’s response was to take out a full page ad in the New York Times, to “welcome” Microsoft as a competitor.

CEO Stewart Butterfield has been more publicly critical of the Microsoft in recent weeks. During an on-stage interview with WSJ Tech Live last month, Butterfield accused Microsoft of “surprisingly unsportsmanlike conduct,” claiming the company has offered to pay businesses to use Teams, and took Microsoft to task for releasing Teams adoption stats soon after Slack’s post-public listing, a federally mandated quiet period for the company.

“The bigger point is that’s kind of crazy for Microsoft to do, especially during the quiet period,” he said. He added that “I think they feel like we’re an existential threat.”

Butterfield also questioned the popularity of Teams among users, noting that most the popular Google searches for Microsoft Teams relate to ways to uninstall the application.

“All of the top searches are how to uninstall, how to stop it from popping up, how to get rid of it,” he said. “So there is a very aggressive push to get people in there.”

On Thursday, Slack’s PR team also hit back at Microsoft on social media, tweeting a video that compared promotional videos for their respective products to show clear similarities. The tweet text read “OK, boomer,” referencing a meme in order to mock the perception of Microsoft as old and out of touch.

Microsoft has also fired broadsides recently. In an interview with The Verge, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, said that Slack lacks the “breadth and depth” of Teams.

During a pre-recorded press briefing for Microsoft’s Ignite conference last month, Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of communications, also made a thinly-veiled reference to Slack when discussing Teams usage with Spataro.

“Everybody has a different way of measuring things; what success looks like for us might be different to somebody else. But I have wonder if, hypothetically, spending nine hours a day in a chat app is a good productive use of time,” said Shaw.

“We are not trying to replace email with chat,” responded Spataro. “If someone is spending nine hours in a communications tool, we wonder is that really where you should be? We look at Teams as this hub where its strength undoubtedly is the underlying Microsoft 365 workloads. That is what is all about.”

How will Teams’ growth affect Slack?

While such talk is par for the course between two competing companies, it shows how seriously the two firms are throwing rhetorical elbows. Last year, Microsoft, with a market cap of more than $1 trillion, listed Slack as an official competitor to its Office suite in its annual 10K report, placing it alongside Apple, Cisco, Google and IBM. 

And it reportedly put Slack on a list of internally banned apps, ostensibly for security concerns. (Slack’s CEO claims there are still pockets of use within the company.)

Perhaps the most significant sign of competition between the two  is the scale of Microsoft’s investments in building out Teams. In addition to deepening integrations with Office 365 tools, it has introduced a wide range of features, including capabilities to support “frontline” workers. At its Ignite event, there was a notable increase in the volume of Teams announcements, including the launch of private channels, an important feature Slack has had for some time.

And Teams has plenty of room to grow, too, with only a small proportion of Office 365 customers currently using the app.

Despite Slack’s swift uptake – it has claimed to be  the fastest growing business app of all time – and growing revenues, the company has yet to make a profit. It reported an annual loss of $138.9 million for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31 on revenues of $400.6 million. In its most recent quarterly results, Slack posted higher-than-expected revenues of $145 million. 

Slack has struggled at times since its public listing in June. Despite its swift uptake – it’s regarded as the fastest growing business app of all time – and growing revenues, it has yet to make a profit. It reported an annual loss of $138.9 million for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2019 on revenues of $400.6 million. In its most recent quarterly results, it posted higher-than-expected revenues of $145 million. 

Nevertheless, it has continued to attract more users in the past year as it has added automation capabilities, improved links with email (including Microsoft’s Outlook), while boosting security and management capabilities in Enterprise Grid, which is aimed at large businesses. Slack sees big potential in the long term, and estimated in its S-1 filing that the market has a potential value of $28 billion

While Slack and Teams play in the same market, the impact of Teams on Slack’s growth can easily be overstated, said Larry Cannell, a research director at Gartner. 

“Certainly, users in Office 365 enterprises are getting exposed to Teams, but that alone does not guarantee success,” he said. “Also, Slack has a fair amount of momentum all its own with some extremely passionate users.”

For many companies, this is not necessarily an “either/or” scenario; in many cases, businesses are using both apps.  (Computerworld employees have access to both apps.) According to Slack’s CEO, the majority of its customers also pay for Office 365 too.

Cannell added that, while it is natural for any company to be concerned when Microsoft offers up a successful competing product it is too early to see who will come out on top.  

“Successfully using either product requires changes in how groups operate on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Each vendor is taking different approaches to encouraging or enabling this behavioral change and is too early to tell who will be successful.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Mysterious app keeps you from shutting down — or does it?

At last, we have a description of the mysterious shutdown-blocking G — and a fix for Microsoft’s G-generating bug coming in the next version of Win10, commonly called 20H1.

If you look online, you’ll see hundreds (if not thousands) of reports about Win10 shutdown getting blocked by a mysterious app called, simply, G.

g blocks shutdown Overflowbr on Bleeping Computer

Most people assume it’s a virus, some other sort of malware or a harbinger of doom. In fact, it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a bug in the way Windows reports a specific kind of hang, and the bug has been fixed in the latest versions of Win10 20H1.

The KB article associated with the first Windows Insider beta build 19013 release says:

Some of you have reached out about when trying to shutdown, seeing a message saying that an app named “G” was preventing shutdown. We investigated and found an issue where windows related to GDI+were only referenced as “G.” We’ve fixed this, so going forward, these will now have the name “GDI+ Window (<exe name>)”, where <exe name> will show the .exe name of the app using GDI+.

In fact, people have been “reaching out” to Microsoft about this bug for years. I easily found six complaints on Reddit (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) going back two years. General consensus on Reddit, and elsewhere, is that the afflicted machines are running malware of some sort or another. General consensus is wrong.

It’s a bug in the way the Blocked Shutdown Resolver pulls the name of the program blocking a shutdown, and “G” may result when there’s a GDI+ program (a program that draws stuff on the screen) that turns belly up as you’re shutting down.

Raymond Chen, one of my favorite Microsoft explainers, has a detailed (if weighty) discussion on the Developer Blog.

At the time the GDI+ library was written, it needed to support Windows 98, which had very limited support for Unicode. Therefore, it was compiled as ANSI and consequently used the ANSI versions of functions like Register­Class, like Create­Window, and Def­WindowProc to create and manage its helper window. The lack of Unicode support in the helper window didn’t really cause a problem because the window never displayed any UI and never processed any text. The window was there to do things like listen for WM_SETTINGS­CHANGE messages so it knew when to invalidate its caches. A few years ago, the GDI+ team did a little cleanup, and one of the things they did was get rid of support for Windows 98 and Windows Me…

When a program prevents you from signing out or shutting down, Windows looks for a visible window belonging to that program and uses that to represent it in the Blocked Shutdown Resolver (BSDR) screen. But if the program has no visible windows, then the BSDR will take any window belonging to the program, visible or not. And sometimes the invisible window that gets chosen is the one named “G”.

So if you see that G is keeping you from shutting down, just go ahead and manually override it. No harm, no foul — and know that it’ll be fixed (finally!) when the next version of Win10 hits.

Thx, @b

Having G problems? Tell us about it on AskWoody.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Mobile App Website Inspiration: 20 Application Websites And Tips To Design One

App websites are sometimes neglected by app owners. The owners or developers set up everything in place for the app to go ballistic on the market, except doing the basic marketing step: designing an app website that converts your visitors to users.

But is it enough to create a random website for an app?


If you do a rushed job, your website will be just as good as not having one. You’ll end up having visitors come to your site that you’ve been promoting and they’ll close the tab as fast as they’ve clicked on your link.

You can avoid this unfortunate situation if you take the time to create eye-catching and engaging app websites designed to consistently convert visitors into users.

It’s really not all that difficult when you follow these 5 simple steps.


5 Simple Steps to Creating the Best App Websites

Step 1: Choose a Mesmerizing Color Palette

Not everyone will necessarily agree with your idea of what a mesmerizing color palette would be. Maybe you’re not even sure what it should look like.

Not a problem. Stick to these 3 simple rules and your selection should be spot on every time:

  • Your palette should feature colors that immediately attract visitors’ attention.
  • Make sure it’s on brand so as not to detract from the message.
  • It needs to be visually supportive of the message as well.

Notice how the use of pastel color touches in this Headspace example are every bit as effective as bold, brash colors. Much more so in fact. They give the site a friendly, lighthearted look that helps to convey the message.


You can create a similar colorful app website with this Be Theme pre-built website that puts an eye-catching palette of bold colors to good use.


Magpie illustrates the result of creating a color palette that aligns perfectly with its brand – in this case, visually memorable pastels.


Muse’s subtle use of a natural, neutral color palette reinforces the message that their product line makes users more mindful and connected as they go about their daily lives.


On the other hand, the vibrancy of the BeApp2 color palette is designed to perfectly appeal to a large audience of physically active users.


Step 2: Feature Crystal-Clear Product Photos and Images

People don’t want clever hints as to what the app looks like. Anytime visitors have to try to figure things out you’ll likely loose them. They want to be able to clearly understand how easy or how difficult using the app will be; and above all how it differs from the other 400 similar ones on the market.

Bite for example, clearly displays how the app appears on a smartphone while giving the user a sense of how easy it is to work with.


You can create a similar app website with BeWallet. This pre-built website provides an excellent starting point for building a website designed for financial apps. Financial apps are in great demand; especially those that are both helpful and straightforward to work with.


BeSoftware provides an excellent foundation for creating a website that allows a visitor to navigate through the inner workings of the app.


The use of before and after examples is a simple yet highly credible way to demonstrate what an app is capable of. JibJab applies this tactic to near perfection.


Step 3: Give Visitors A Clear Picture Of How The App Works

Showing visitors what an app does is a necessary step, but it’s not enough. You need to show how the app works as well. One of the most effective sales drivers lies in the ability of an app website to allow visitors to imagine themselves as actual users of the app.

Video is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. PeekCalendar’s hero section includes such a video.


BePolyglot may not have been initially created only for presenting an app, but its product in use hero section is exactly what you need to offer the users a preview of your app.


The best way to present a video is to invite the visitor to watch it (not everyone enjoys watching a video that automatically runs). BePay’s video is opened with a CTA button above the fold.


Tunity’s website uses a slider in the hero section to show several examples of how the product works. In fact, the entire website brilliantly presents the various workings of the app in great detail.


Step 4: Don’t Be Afraid To (Over)Use “White” Space On App Websites

An overly generous use of white space often does more good than harm, while sparse usage can have the opposite effect. Use just enough white space to highlight the main message on the page. Add a little bit more, and you’ll be in great shape. White space makes it easier for visitors to focus on a single message or element, or on several.

Curio utilizes a clean, fresh design that makes it ever-so-easy for the eye to focus on what’s most important.


The BeProduct4 or BeHosting2 pre-built websites can be used to create an app website that has the same, clean and fresh effect. Dark “white space” is used effectively in one example; white and pale blue in the other. The message is clearly presented in both examples.


SpellTower is an extreme example of white space usage. 90% or more of the page is white space, yet it is by no means excessive. The user clearly knows where to go or what to do next.


Step 5: Use CTA Designs That Will Grab Visitors By The Eyeballs

The very worst thing you can do with a CTA button (with the possible exception of causing it to send a visitor to the wrong place) is to make it hard to locate. The simple fact is, you want to make it virtually impossible to miss and make your visitor feel compelled to click on it.

Bright and bold are the operative parameters.

The Splitwise CTA button clearly stands out. A visitor will first be drawn to the headline, next to the sub-headline, and the flow naturally extends to the CTA button which is easy to see.


BeERP uses a bright green color to draw attention to the primary CTA button and a somewhat plainer color (black) to highlight the secondary button.


As the BeKids example illustrates, it can be perfectly OK to use the same color for the CTA button as is used in other visual elements; in this case blue. Rather than being lost in the shuffle, the button stands out.




Follow these 5 surefire steps and you should have little problem creating an app website that’s designed to turn visitors into customers. Your mesmerizing color palette and clean imagery will attract attention. Clearly illustrating what the app does and enabling a potential user to visualize how to work with it keeps visitors engaged. White space helps to make the user experience a pleasant one, and bright bold CTA buttons lead to conversions.

It’s important however to remember that the website presentation should be geared to making the intended audience want to use the app.

If you really intend to create as many app websites as possible (while avoiding Christmas Every Day or Groundhog Day issues) you might want to check out Be Theme’s gallery of more than 450 customizable pre-built websites. They’re functional and visually impressive, and they have intuitive navigation and everything else you need to create one attention-getting app website after another.


[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Be Theme –]

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New Microsoft Office App for iOS and Android Combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – Review Geek

New Microsoft Office App

If you’re among the millions of people who get Microsoft Office work done on a smartphone sometimes, you will soon be able to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the same app on your device instead of opening them separately.

In the interest of making mobile productivity more efficient when using Microsoft Office on a phone, the software suite has received an update that brings all of your Office documents together in one place. Along with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the new Microsoft Office app will provide easy access to Sticky Notes for saving quick thoughts, along with various mobile-oriented capabilities such as using your camera to scan documents.

You can also get recent and recommended documents stored in the cloud on your device and search for documents across your organization if using a work account. By combining all of these features into the same mobile application, it should reduce the need to switch between apps, and Microsoft says it will save storage space on your phone compared to having multiple separate apps installed.

The “Actions Pane” is another noteworthy addition. It provides quick access to tasks you might typically encounter on a mobile device such as creating PDFs with your camera, signing PDFs with your finger, scanning QR codes to open files and links, transferring files from your phone to a computer, and sharing with other nearby mobile devices.

You can get these features by updating your Office mobile app to the public preview that launched today for Android and iOS. The app can be downloaded for free and you just have to sign in with a Microsoft Account. Microsoft notes that Apple’s TestFlight program for preview software limits the public preview to 10,000 users, so you may want to hop on that sooner rather than later if you’re interested in trying the software on your iOS phone.

Note that the new Office app is only available for phones, with support for tablets coming later. As for the existing mobile apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Microsoft says it will continue to support and invest in the separate apps for everyone who prefers using those instead of the new all-in-one app. The company encourages everyone to submit feedback for the new Office app by going to Settings > Help & Feedback.

Source: Microsoft

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Spotify’s New Kid’s App Curates Your Children’s Music So You Don’t Have To – Review Geek

The Spotify Kids Logo

Spotify is testing a new Kid’s app for Premium Family subscribers, and it might save your sanity. The standalone app will feature human-curated music, playlists, and kid-friendly graphics. All while keeping music your little ones aren’t ready for out of sight.

Goodbye Sweeney Todd

Not sure I want my seven-year-old listening to Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge.

If you want to let your young children use Spotify, you currently have two basic choices: let them use your account or create an account for them and try to curate it by hand. Neither choice is great.

Choosing to share your account with your children means you’ll find your playlists and Daily Mix suggestions taken over by Disney music and TV show theme songs.

And creating a separate account isn’t great either. Spotify’s controls for children are less than adequate. It’s only recently that the service even added explicit filters, for one. And blocking explicit songs still isn’t perfect. You may encounter some songs that should be marked explicit but aren’t yet (that’s quickly improving). And just because a song isn’t explicit doesn’t mean it’s kid-appropriate.

The above screenshot comes from a seven-year old’s Spotify account. Spotify noticed he favors Disney music, so clearly, he likes musicals. Thus it suggested music from Sweeny Todd. That’s the problem with algorithm-generated playlists and suggestions; computers don’t understand context like a human can. And that’s where the new Spotify Kid’s app (available in Ireland to start, but coming to more countries soon) comes in to play.

A Shiny App with Human Curated Playlists

Spotify graphics showing kid-friendly avatars.

The Spotify Kid’s app (available for iOS and Android if you’re in Ireland) looks completely different from the standard Spotify app. For instance, the colors are brighter, and your children get to pick a cute avatar that looks like something out of the Endless Alphabet app.

But more importantly, all the music your children will have access to is human-curated. Someone somewhere listened to the song and confirmed it’s child-appropriate. When you create your child’s account, you can choose from two age categories to determine what kind of music they can hear. The Younger Kids grouping sticks to music from Disney and children’s stories. Older kids get access to pop songs that are still family appropriate.

The app is also ad-free, and Spotify won’t sell data from it to third-party advertisers. The company did specify it will only share data to third-parties for select reasons, like connecting to your smart TV.
That makes the Kid’s app a better choice from a privacy standpoint than using a full-blown account on the official app. Spotify didn’t specify when the app will roll out to other markets, but you can keep an out at the Kid’s site for more information.

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Spotify Launches a Standalone App for Kids

Spotify has launched Spotify Kids, a standalone app designed for “the next generation of listeners”. This is Spotify built for kids. And it features a child-friendly UI and a collection of songs curated for even the youngest music lovers.

What to Expect From Spotify Kids

Spotify Kids is designed for kids aged 3+. There are thousands of songs available, all hand-picked by a team of editors. Younger children get Disney soundtracks and the like. Older kids can listen to pop songs from the likes of Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

The Kids app looks and feels different than the regular Spotify app. With a bright and colorful UI, and a cast of characters to choose from. The look varies by age group too, so the Spotify Kids app can evolve as kids grow up listening to Spotify.

Spotify Kids is exclusively available to Premium Family subscribers. This is partly due to the lack of ads. Spotify Kids is currently in beta, and only available in Ireland. However, it will be rolling out to all markets that currently have Premium Family.

According to the press release, Spotify has intentionally launched its Kids app in beta owing to “the sensitivities around content for children”. Spotify will use the beta to learn from “parents, caregivers and other experts as they begin to interact with the app.”

Download: Spotify Kids on Android | iOS (Only available to Premium Family subscribers)

Spotify Is Building for the Future

With the streaming wars starting to heat up, appealing to the next generation of subscribers could be the key to the longterm future of Spotify et al. If children associate a certain company with music, they’re more likely to stick with them as adults.

Whether you’re interested in Spotify Kids or not, you should check out our previous Spotify coverage. If you’re new to streaming here’s our unofficial guide to Spotify

Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide

Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide

Spotify is the biggest music streaming service around. If you’re not sure how to use it, this guide will walk you through the service, as well as offer some crucial top tips.
Read More

. And if you’re a longterm user, here’s how to fix common Spotify problems

Spotify Not Working? How to Fix 8 Common Spotify Problems

Spotify Not Working? How to Fix 8 Common Spotify Problems

Like every other service known to man, Spotify is prone to problems that afflict millions of users. We have identified the most common problems, and found solutions for them all. You’re welcome.
Read More


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How to Cancel App Subscriptions on Your iPhone or iPad

Nearly every app and service available today wants you to sign up for a subscription. While this spreads out costs over time instead of charging you all at once, it’s easy to lose track of your subscriptions. If you typically enroll using your mobile device, you might wonder how to cancel subscriptions on an iPhone or iPad.

We’ll show you how to view all subscriptions you’ve signed up for on your iPhone and help you get these under control.

How to Find All Subscriptions on Your iPhone

Apple makes it easy to review all subscriptions you currently have active through your Apple ID. Here’s where to find subscriptions on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap your name at the top of the list.
  3. On the resulting page, tap Subscriptions.

In addition to app subscriptions, this page is also how you cancel magazine subscriptions on your iPhone. Next, we’ll look at managing them.

How to Cancel Subscriptions on iPhone

Follow the above steps to access the Subscriptions page for your Apple ID. Here you’ll see all subscriptions that are billed through your Apple account. Tap the subscription you want to unsubscribe from or change. If you only have one subscription, this page will take you right to it.

In the below example, you can see how to cancel Apple Music. Tap Apple Music Membership to see details and change the subscription if you want. It shows you what kind of plan you have, when the subscription renews, and your other options for subscribing.

You’ll see the Cancel Subscription (or Cancel Free Trial if you’re still in the trial period) button below. Tap this and confirm it to unsubscribe from the app’s service.

When you cancel an app, most services allow you to continue using them until your subscription period ends. This isn’t the case for some free trials, though. For instance, if you cancel the Apple Music trial, you’ll immediately lose access to the premium service.

Thus, if you want to utilize the entire free trial but don’t want to get charged when it’s over, we recommend setting a reminder to cancel the app subscription a few days before it ends.

How to Cancel Apple Subscriptions on Your Mac

If you’d prefer, you can also cancel an app subscription on your Mac. Because Apple has split iTunes on macOS into several distinct apps, this functionality is now located in the App Store.

Open the App Store on your Mac and click your name and profile icon in the bottom-left corner. Next, select View Information at the top-right. You may need to confirm your Apple ID password to proceed.

Mac View Account Info

Once you see the Account Information page, scroll down to the Manage section. You’ll see a Subscriptions entry with the number of subscriptions currently on your account; click Manage to the right of this.

From here, you’ll see a very similar panel to that on iPhone and iPad. This lets you change or unsubscribe from an Apple or third-party app, as long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID.

Mac Manage Subscriptions

How to Cancel iTunes Subscriptions on Windows

If you use a Windows PC, you’ll still manage your Apple subscriptions through the iTunes subscriptions page. Open iTunes and head to Account > View My Account. This will bring you to a panel similar to the App Store’s Account Information above.

Scroll to the bottom and in the Settings section, you’ll see a Subscriptions line. Click Manage next to this. Then you can edit or cancel your subscriptions.

iTunes Windows Manage Subscriptions

Managing Other Subscriptions on Your iPhone

Didn’t find the subscription you were looking for using the above methods? You’ll need to unsubscribe in a different way. The above subscription management only applies to apps that you’ve subscribed to through your Apple ID. It won’t show subscriptions you made through other devices.

For example, you might have signed up for Spotify Premium through the Google Play Store on an Android device, or joined Netflix on the company’s website. While you can enjoy these accounts by signing into the apps on your iPhone, Apple has nothing to do with your subscription.

You’ll need to deal with the service directly to manage your subscription. A quick Google search should bring you to the appropriate website so you can log in and manage your subscription.

Spotify Premium Subscription

If you have trouble tracking down where a subscription comes from, check your credit card statement to see who you’ve made payments to. Vendors like “Apple” or “App Store” signify a subscription through your Apple ID, while the company name will likely appear for direct subscriptions. You might have also subscribed using a service like PayPal or Amazon Pay.

Otherwise, if you use Apple’s Family Sharing, one of your family members might have signed up for a subscription on their own. You can’t manage this from your Apple ID, so you’ll need to use one of their devices to manage that subscription. You may also pay someone else for a shareable subscription

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and need to talk with them.

Finally, make sure you didn’t subscribe with a different Apple ID than the one you’re currently using.

How to Manage Your iCloud Storage Plan

There’s one notable exception when wondering how to unsubscribe from an Apple app: iCloud storage. Apple will bill you for iCloud plans that include more storage than the 5GB default, but this doesn’t appear in the above locations.

Instead, to unsubscribe from iCloud plans on your iPhone, you’ll need to visit Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage. Here, tap Change Storage Plan, then Downgrade Options to go back to the free plan.

A Note on Subscribing Through Apple

We’ve covered how to unsubscribe from plans on your iPhone, so you’re all set to take control of your recurring charges.

Before we wrap up, you should be aware that subscribing to services through Apple often results in paying a higher price. This is because Apple takes a 30% cut of all purchases made through the App Store, resulting in developers charging more to offset that cost.

For example, Spotify Premium costs $9.99 per month normally. However, if you sign up through the iPhone app, you’ll end up paying $12.99 per month instead. There’s no reason to do this, as you get an identical service either way.

If you have any subscriptions through Apple, we recommend checking the applicable company’s website to see if you can get it for a lower cost.

Cancel Subscriptions and Save Some Money

Subscriptions are a convenient way to access services you use month-to-month, but they can easily get out of hand. It’s wise to take a few minutes to review the subscriptions you’re currently paying for to make sure you aren’t wasting money.

For more tools to help with this, see our guide to managing your online subscriptions

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The Apple TV App Is Now Available on Fire TV Sticks

If you own an Amazon Fire TV Stick, you can now install the Apple TV app on it. Doing so will allow you to access your iTunes video library, and buy or rent new movies and TV shows. It will also enable you to use the new Apple TV+ streaming service.

Apple TV+ Is Going to Be Available Everywhere

In March 2019, Apple unveiled Apple TV+. This is Apple’s foray into the burgeoning world of streaming TV. Apple TV+ features “exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries,” made by and starring some of the world’s finest actors and directors.

However, Apple still needs to get people to subscribe to Apple TV+. To help bolster its chances, Apple is making Apple TV+ available on as many platforms as possible. First, the Apple TV app launched on Roku

The Apple TV App Is Now Available on Roku

The Apple TV App Is Now Available on Roku

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, and now it’s launching on Fire TV Sticks.

How to Install the Apple TV App on a Fire TV Stick

Amazon revealed the news on the Fire TV Blog, informing (some) Fire TV Stick owners that they can “download and begin using the all-new Apple TV app.” You’ll immediately gain access to your entire iTunes library, which you can now watch on your Fire TV Stick.

To download and install the Apple TV app on your Fire TV device, either: Click the Search icon in the top navbar of your Fire TV device and search for “Apple TV” or visit the Apple TV page on Amazon and send the app across to your Fire TV device.

If you want to buy or rent more movies or TV shows, you’ll have to do so on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, or PC. It will then appear within the Apple TV app on your Fire TV device. This is a little annoying, but surely a price worth paying.

The main reason Apple has agreed to launch the Apple TV app on Fire TV devices is the aforementioned Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is launching on November 1, 2019, at which point Fire TV users will be able to sign up at tv.apple.com.

The Best Apps to Install on a New Fire TV Device

At the time of writing, the Apple TV app is only available on the Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) and Fire TV Stick 4K in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and India. However, the app will be released for more Fire TV devices in the coming months.

It’s clear that Apple is going to be heavily promoting Apple TV+. Which is why the Apple TV app is being released on so many more devices. And we may have to add Apple TV to our list of the best apps to install on a new Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick

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How to Disable Notifications From Any App in Android

Notifications on your phone can be a pain, especially for insignificant apps. It’s a good idea to block notifications, especially at work. Studies have found that notifications ruin your concentration, even if it’s a small beep. In fact, it’s as disruptive as actually using your phone.

Here’s how to turn off notifications on Android altogether, or stop notifications for select apps. Note that these steps are based on a phone with stock Android 8 Oreo. The menus and instructions may vary slightly depending on your device and Android version.

How to Turn Off Notifications on Android

Android has a built-in option to turn off notifications, or only allow certain contacts to call or text. It’s called Do Not Disturb, and you can find it in Settings. We’ll look at how to switch it on and customize Do Not Disturb settings.

There are also options to block notifications from specific apps. You can do all of this without third-party apps.

Before you dive in, remember that some notifications are important and necessary. Thus, you probably don’t want to turn off all notifications. But while you do need to see an important text, you probably don’t need to know that Amazon has a sale on kitchen items today.

Use these tools to stop unwanted notifications and reclaim your attention.

How to Activate Do Not Disturb on Android

The best way to activate Do Not Disturb and turn off notifications on Android is through the pull-down Quick Settings menu:

  1. Pull down the top bar on your phone, and pull it down once more to show the Quick Settings menu. You can also pull down once using two fingers to jump right to this menu.
  2. Find and tap Do not disturb.
  3. You have three options:
    1. Total silence: Blocks all sounds and vibrations.
    2. Alarms only: Blocks everything except alarms.
    3. Priority only: Blocks everything except alarms, reminders, events, and important callers. You can customize this option, which we’ll examine in the next section.
  4. Under the mode you choose, set how long you want to activate Do Not Disturb. Set it on a timer for an hour or more, or until you manually switch it off.

How to Customize Do Not Disturb on Android

Android lets you customize Do Not Disturb preferences through the Settings menu. You can also set it up to turn on automatically based on calendar events or clock times. To change this:

  1. Go to Settings > Sound > Do Not Disturb preferences.
  2. Tap to Priority only allows. Here, switch the toggles as you see fit. You can switch off reminders and events and choose who can call or message you: no one, anyone, contacts only, or starred contacts only.
  3. Next, look at Block visual disturbances. Here, you can choose to prevent notifications showing when the screen is on, or prevent notifications from turning on the screen.
  4. Finally, head to Automatic rules > Add more > Event/Time rule and set up a new rule. Here, you can set Do Not Disturb to activate based on certain events on your calendar or at certain time or day. You can choose from the same three modes: Priority only, Alarms only, or Total silence.

How to Turn Off Notifications From Any App in Android

Depending on the version of Android you’re running, there are two ways to easily stop notifications from a particular app.

First, you can go through Settings to customize notifications. This method works on everything from Android 5 Lollipop up through Android 10.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications > App notifications.
  2. Here, you’ll see a list of all apps installed on your Android device. Scroll and tap any app whose notifications you want to customize.
  3. Next a list of all types of notifications the app can send will appear. Toggle each type of notification on or off as desired.
    1. For finer control, tap a notification type and you can change its sound, vibration, and other settings. You can also toggle the main switch to block all notifications from that app.
  4. Some apps have extra notifications in their app settings. This is indicated by the Additional settings in the app button. Tap it to access the app’s settings, and customize further notifications there. Obviously, what you see depends on the app.

Second, you can change an app’s notifications settings when it sends you a notification. Like the above, this works on Android 5 Lollipop through Android 10:

  1. When you see a notification, long-press on it or swipe it slightly to either side to reveal a settings cog icon and a clock icon.
  2. Tap the settings cog icon to be taken directly to that app in the App notifications menu.
  3. From here, follow steps 3 and 4 from the first method.

Note: The clock icon you revealed is a Snooze button. It does not turn off or disable notifications. Instead, this lets you temporarily stop notifications from that app for a set amount of time.

How to Turn Off Notifications on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to 4.4 KitKat

How to turn off app notifications in Android 4.1 Jellybean to Android 4.4 KitKat

If you have an older Android phone that can’t run Lollipop, don’t worry. You can still block notifications on your device without much fuss, as long as you are running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or newer:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Tap the app for which you want to stop unwanted notifications.
  3. Uncheck the box for Show notifications.

How to Turn Off Notifications on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or Older

Unfortunately, there is no way to disable notifications from an app in legacy versions of Android. If you have an extremely old device, you’ll need to either upgrade your phone or install a custom Android ROM

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to gain this functionality.

How to Turn Off Lock Screen Notifications on Android

To ensure that your lock screen does not show any notifications in Android, perform the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Notifications.
  2. Tap On the lock screen and choose Don’t show notifications at all.
  3. If you’d rather, you can choose to Hide sensitive notification content. This will, for example, let you know that you have a new text message, but won’t show who it’s from or what the message says.

How to Recover Dismissed Notifications

If you accidentally cleared all notifications, or missed an important item, you can get it back. Android lets you accomplish this using a simple widget that shows your entire notifications history:

  1. Tap and hold anywhere on your Home Screen to bring up the Widgets dialog.
  2. Tap Shortcut > Settings Shortcut > Notification log. On some versions of Android, you may have to select the Settings widget first.
  3. You’ll see a new Notification log icon on your home screen. Tap this to bring up your entire notification history.
  4. Tap any app in this list, and you’ll be taken to its Settings entry.

When You Can’t Disable Select Notifications

Unfortunately, what notifications you can and can’t disable depends on the app. Since Android 8 Oreo introduced notification channels

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, most apps have updated to support custom notification options for different types of alerts. However, some still only have an all-or-nothing option.

If you don’t see the notification options you want, it might be worth reaching out to the developer and asking to add this functionality to the app.

Do More With Android Notifications

You can turn off annoying notifications that just pester you, as well as use these utilities to make Android notifications more efficient. By setting custom ringtones and alerts for the various notification channels, you can make them better than ever before.

Notifications are awesome if you know what to do with them. Aside from the built-in features, there are third-party apps to let you do more, like Smart Replies and quick shortcuts. Here are a few apps and tricks to master your Android notifications

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