Thanks for being patient

I just wanted to take a second and thank everyone out there for being patient with the blog over the past month or so. My post volume has decreased a decent amount, and that’s because I have 2 major projects in the works that are keeping me from writing smaller, more regular posts.

The first project is my watchOS 4 review, which is coming along very nicely, and I hope it will be the authoritative watchOS review this year. It may be overly ambitious, but why not go for it, right?

The second project is an open secret, and it’s an iOS app called Today’s Forecast. I intend to have this app released the same week as iOS 11, but that’s a little ambitious. We’ll see how things go in the current beta, but I’m currently on track to hit that release window. Fingers crossed!

BirchTree Podcast #27: Figuring out your competitive advantage

This week we’re thinking about your personal advantages and how to leverage them. It’s hard to always know what you’re advantages are over everyone else in the room, so hopefully this episode will get you thinking about that a little more this week.

Dallol Volcano Wallapapers

I had never heard of Dallol before this week, and that’s a shame because it is one of the most interesting, beautiful places I’ve ever seen! If you are also not familiar, I highly suggest you do a quick search for the Ethiopian volcano and marvel at it for a few minutes this weekend.

These are a little different from my normal wallpaper style, but I made a few of them that I’m enjoying right now and I hope you do too.

Would rather buy a new iPhone than keep using WhatsApp

About a month ago my wife and her sisters ditched SMS and started using WhatsApp for all of their messaging. See 2 of them use iPhones and the other uses an Android phone. They had been using SMS for years to have a group chat, but there have been tons of issues with that. SMS is slow, relies on a cellular connection instead of Wifi, does not sync across multiple devices, and is a poor option for sending images/videos. To solve this problem, they decided to start using WhatsApp instead.

WahtsApp seemed to solve all of their problems. It was a web-based service that they could use from any device they wanted, it was more reliable than SMS, and it was faster in every single way. It seemed like a win.

But today my wife mentioned in passing that she was browsing eBay for cheap iPhones. Apparently after a month of WhatsApp, she and her iPhone-owning sister have decided that it would be better to buy their sister an iPhone and use iMessage than stick with WhatsApp. Wow!

As with all of these stories, it’s a sample size of one, and is not indicative of how everyone feels, but I was honestly taken aback by the desire they had to use iMessage as their messaging platform over anything else out there. For them at least, it shows the value of iMessage and the power of Apple’s services.

The amazing Ulysses has gone subscription only

The team over at Soulmen made an announcement today that I expect they were more than a little hesitant to make:

Today, we are switching Ulysses to a subscription model. The short story is this (tl;dr): Our users expect a continuously evolving high quality product — and subscription is the only way we can truly deliver on that expectation.

This whole post is full of gems, so I highly recommend you go read it, but one line really jumped out to me, and I think puts the whole subscription pricing argument nicely into one sentence.

Interestingly enough, the way we pay for software hasn’t caught up to that rather drastic change in development yet.

This is absolutely true! We demand that most of our software be under constant development, but we are equally into the idea of paying for software up front and never paying again. This is indeed an antiquated way to charge for software, and as we have seen time and time again, it’s the only way many developers can manage to stay above water.

I expect apps that I pay more than a few dollars for to get updates every few weeks with bug fixes and meaningful feature updates. I expect those apps to get enhanced for the new versions of iOS, macOS, and Android that come out every year as well. I expect that if I have a support issue someone gets back to me in a short time frame. These are all expectations that are not always practical when your customers pay up front and never give you another cent even though you’re spending countless man hours developing the app. The best way to stay in the black is to charge your current customers on a regular basis over a longer period of time.

The big benefit of this subscription model is that it’s a two way street. Yes, I will end up paying more over time for a subscription to Ulysses than I would if I had just bought it once and used it for 10 years. That said, I’m not going to pay more for a little while. Ulysses used to be $50 on the Mac and $25 on iOS. The subscription is $40/year, or $30/year if you already own the apps. So for me, it will take me 2.5 years before I pay more for Ulysses as a subscription than I would have by just buying it up front.

But Ulysses has a job to do as well. In order to get me to keep using the app for over 2.5 years so that they do start to make more money on me they need to keep updating the app so I don’t start to look elsewhere for a competitor. They are now doubly invested in keeping me as a customer, as it’s now much more important that they get customers to stick around for the long haul.

I personally paid the $30 today to get my next year of Ulysses. I didn’t even think twice about it. Ulysses is the best app I’ve ever used on any platform, and I don’t want to see it go anywhere, so I’m happy to support them. I even gave them a 5 star review to try and make up for the inevitable 1 star brigade they’re about to endure. Here’s to paying a living wage to those who make world class software 🍻

Ulysses for iOS and Ulysses for Mac are both free downloads and include 14 day trials. And don’t worry, your old versions of Ulysses won’t stop working just because this new model is in place.