Adobe and Microsoft — along with Evernote, Wunderlist, and other web app companies — think the future of software is subscriptions. Apple seems to think the future is lower priced pro apps without upgrades on the App Store, and free bundled apps for everything else. Game developers think the future is free apps with in-app purchases. And traditional developers with paid apps and discounted upgrades are being pushed to the side.
Is paid indie software doomed, perhaps by the very App Store that pushed so many developers to prominence?
After making an app just to help their App Store customers move away from the App Store, the Omni Group has just removed their OmniKeyMaster app and stated that they can no longer offer upgrade pricing to their Mac App Store customers. It’s a surprising turnaround for a team that has offered their own workarounds for App Store policies already, such as extending a 30 day money-back guarantee even when Apple itself doesn’t, and even more surprising since apps like TextExpander have made workarounds to help App Store customers move back to non-App Store versions of their apps.
This time, though, it seems Apple itself didn’t want Omni’s App Store customers moving away.
Browsing through back issues of PopSci in the early 2000’s in a musty garage, I spotted the first cellphone I really wanted to own: a Nokia 3600. With its crazy circular keypad and a rudimentary smartphone OS, it for whatever reason captured my imagination like no tech gadget had yet. I never managed to get one, instead relying on the seemingly indestructible Nokia dumbphones that made their way through our family before getting my first quasi-smartphone: an HTC Windows Phone with a BlackBerry-style keyboard.
Once Apple launched the iPhone, it was only a matter of time before I got one — opting first for a cheaper iPod Touch to compliment my rapidly aging Windows Phone, and finally buying my own off-contract iPhone. There was never any question in my mind about which phone to get; I’d never even consider anything other than an iPhone since the App Store opened.
Only one other line of phones has caught my attention in recent years: Nokia’s Lumia phones. I’d stop by Nokia stores in the mall to try them out and see how they felt and worked, and jumped on the opportunity a couple months to get press loaner Lumia 520 to review.
But then, I never had the heart to write the review.
When the word “email” springs to mind, most people think of those Monday mornings spent gazing at an endless list of messages inside Microsoft Outlook, sifting through and sorting out the useful stuff from the spam, newsletters and other promotions that somehow always end up in our inboxes. Yep, it’s true — email really is an unnecessary evil.
We think we can live without it, yet we still check our inboxes several times a day, no matter where we are — and I’m no exception. I’m pretty much married to my iPhone — as we spend almost every second of the day together — and I feel lost and disconnected when I get that dreaded “circle of death”, the GPRS indicator, meaning I can hardly access anything online.
Yet I’m always a little sceptical when developers claim that they can reinvent email. Allow me to explain why.
I have long been a strong supporter of cloud storage, highlighting the many different ways to use Dropbox, for example. Combine that with iCloud automatically backing up most of our digital purchases and the documents we create in tons of popular apps now, and cloud syncing suddenly just works. We can just sit back and forget about all the complexity — that is, until we need to restore something.
That’s still usually not too much of a problem, since iCloud has all of our purchased music, apps, and movies ready for redownload. But it’ll come as a shock, however, to realize that iTunes does not fully meet this expectation at the moment. Audiobooks purchased through iTunes allow a one-time download at the point of purchase, but you can’t then download to other devices or even the same device once erased. You can re-synchronize them from your PC or Mac library back to your device, but it is the cloud functionality that is not behaving as expected here.
We thought it best to give you a general advisory about this, and to briefly show you how to prevent the loss of your important digital media purchases with a short backup tutorial.
I’m always a little bit bemused when I see reviews characterizing one app as the absolute best compared to another. I’ve been writing software reviews for a while now, and I’ve been a tech junkie for a significantly longer period of time. I’ve learned that there is rarely such thing as an absolute proof in the software world. In fact, there are usually compelling reasons to use as many apps you can get your hands on.
Photo management and editing software is the perfect example of this. I like Aperture and Lightroom — I recently gave Lightroom 5 a glowing review here at Mac.AppStorm. Professionals are also divided: Many use Aperture, but many others use Lightroom. There is no clear winner, and since the programs are mostly mutually exclusive, I decided to do a ton of workflow comparisons and some sleuthing to see if I could make them work together. (more…)
Back at the end of June, I received a press release from Toronto-based developers Marketcircle, the team behind the acclaimed Mac business app Daylite (which I recently reviewed right here on Mac.AppStorm), stating that Billings would be discontinued and that Billings Pro would be offered in its place. It took me a while (and a couple of reads through the e-mail) to actually process what was going on and, more importantly, what it would mean for me seeing as I was a keen Billings user.
For those of you who don’t know, Billings is a great time-tracking and invoicing application aimed towards freelancers. Not only can you keep track of all your clients (and bill them for your services) but you’ve also got access to some pretty powerful reporting tools (these are especially useful when it comes to filling out your tax return) and the app will also keep track of all your unpaid invoices, reminding you when any are overdue.
There’s little doubt that Minecraft has been an unprecedented success, attracting literally millions of sales in a reasonably short space of time for an indie developer. We’ve written about it before, from an initial review and extra coverage on new versions to a tutorial on setting up your own Minecraft server. It’s continued to be popular, enough that it’s every bit as relevant today as it was when we first wrote about it.
But what could we — and app developers of all types, not just games — learn from everyone’s favorite block-building simulator? In this article, we’re going to take a look at some key factors of Minecraft’s business and design that we hope can influence other Mac apps in the long run.
You’ve done a great job with your Creative Cloud apps. We love the new features, and the new Creative Cloud installation process is worlds better than the old Creative Suite installer. We’re excited about your new direction with training videos, versioned backup, and Typekit font sync. It’s great.
But that hasn’t kept everyone happy. Every time we write about Creative Cloud, our readers let us know how the new subscriptions plans don’t work out for them. Even if they like the new features, they’re not planning to upgrade because of price, or because they want to know that they’ll be able to keep their programs forever. They’re frustrated enough that they’re signing petitions to get you to change back to the old Creative Suite style.
That’s why we’re writing this letter. We think you’re onto something good with Creative Cloud — but you need to go just a bit further to make everyone happy. We think there’s a way to make everyone happy, or at least almost everyone, so here’s the idea. (more…)
Adobe shocked the creative world by announcing last month that it’s abandoning its Creative Suite in lieu of Creative Cloud subscriptions. Rather than paying thousands of dollars for a complete set of Adobe creative apps, you’ll only pay $50/month for everything they sell. That little change has many Adobe users up in arms, ready to desert Adobe for alternate apps.
But Adobe’s not the only one making a subscription play this year. Microsoft’s now doing the same thing with Office 365, and Autocad, Mathematica, and other major developers have done the same for years. The difference is, Adobe’s making a subscription-only play: individual purchases are no more, and subscription is the only option.
That doesn’t have to be such a bad option, though. Here’s why.