My subscription reset status update: pain points, but surviving

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 6 min read

It's been about 2 weeks since I stopped using nearly $1,000/year-worth of subscriptions and changed to free or paid-up-front options, and I wanted to give an update with some micro-details on how it's going. I have only resumed one subscription, but I've put a hard stop on all others for at least 30 days to make sure I gave the alternatives a fair shot and didn't run back to what I was used to after just a few days. Here's how it's going.

Carrot Weather

I'm using Apple's app, and it's been fine so far. In fairness, we haven't had any serious weather events here lately, so I haven't had situations where I need Carrot's more granular data and radar, so we'll see how this goes. And yes maybe an unfair advantage, but it is nice that Apple's Weather app has more reliable background updates so my watch complications and home screen widgets are never out of date.


I moved to Apple's Calendar on my iPhone and iPad, and Cron on my work Mac. It's been…okay. I do a ton of work in my calendar, and both Cron and Apple's app have caused pain for me already. Apple's app is slow to sync, and as someone who has things being added to my calendar all the time, I keep finding myself force-quitting the app to get it to actually update to show new events. The lack of color coding events is a huge miss as well.

On the Cron side, sync is fantastic and you can color-code events, but two things bother me here. First is that there's no inbox for meeting invites, so when an invite comes in, it only shows up as a grayed out event on my calendar. One, this is hard to notice, and two it means I literally don't see them if they're not this week since I am in the weekly view at all times. I'm also annoyed at how many clicks it takes to add new events in Cron, and it really makes me miss Fantastical's natural language input.

Readwise Reader

Omnivore is free and pretty damn good, but this is the first time I'm using it as my only reading service, and I'm finding more paper cuts the more I use it. To be clear, it's still excellent in many ways, but there are a few things that make me go, "hmm, Readwise does this better."

The big thing is article parsing. I'm sure this is a very hard thing to do, and many sites don't have completely predictable page structures, but I think Omnivore is a bit too lax with what it considers part of an article. Things like author bios, inline ads, random slashes and URLs, and other such cruft appears in so many pages I save. It's not the end of the world, but when I saved the same articles to Readwise Reader, they were simply easier to read with little to no extra junk.

I'm also annoyed how archiving an article is often 2 taps on small touch targets on the iPhone, and sometimes I try to highlight some text and it simply refuses until I force quit the app and try again.

That said, the text-to-speech remains top-class, the Obsidian sync is delightfully fast, reliable, and customizable, and the UI generally looks very nice and is more iOS native than Readwise.


Apple Podcasts is doing pretty great so far, but I’d kill for tappable time codes in episode descriptions, clip sharing, and easier access to chapters.


I've been using Mona, and I'm really happy with a few features in particular. I love how reliably it syncs, even if I haven't used it on that particular device in a long time (Ivory can take a while to sync if you haven't opened it on say your iPad for a few days). I also like that it does a better job of showing replies to posts that aren't federated to my server. I love that when I tap the menu bar to scroll to the top, Mona shows a button for a few seconds that lets me scroll back to where I was, which is great when I accidentally tap the top of my phone.

There are some pain points, but they're not horrible. I'm annoyed that the UI just always feels a bit off to me, no matter how I customize it. It's fine…it's functional…but it's not delightful, and I feel like despite all the customization controls in the app, I can't get things like padding and icon size to be quite right.

I also find myself missing notifications more often than Ivory. I love how it groups my notifications together, so a post that gets 100 likes doesn't overwhelm my notifications tab, but what annoys me is that it always scrolls to the top, so it's hard for me to keep up with what is new since the last time I was there. For likes and boosts, it doesn't matter, but mentions are getting lost for sure, and I'm not seeing or replying to as many as I'd like.

In breaking news, Mammoth 2.0 just came out and it's doing some really interesting stuff with curated lists, a "for you" tab, and a very nice UI, so I'm going to try using that for a bit as well, although initial impressions are it’s not really what I want from a Mastodon app, but it still might be good to open up sometimes when I want to find new people.

Box Box

No F1 since last time, so no tempation.


The biggest thing I miss: easily telling how old an actor or actress was when they played a role in a movie I'm watching. Might be worth the $9/year for that alone. Also the ads on IMDB are soooo frustrating.


Completely fine, the free version of Notion continues to be world class.

Gentler Streak

Again completely fine.


Oof, this one might be coming back in the new year. Using the UPS & FedEx apps, plus USPS site has been pretty awful. It's too many apps to check in on, they don't let you add packages to track easily, and they're just slower and kinda painful to use for general tracking. I still like them when a package is close and I can follow on a map, but other than that it's rough. At $5/year this seems inevitable to come back.


I think this one will be fine. Pixelmator Pro can super-resolution for me when I need it, and Lightroom (thankfully paid for by work) is my normal photo editor anyway, so I think this one is gone for good.

Up Ahead

This is the one I broke on almost immediately! It turns out I really value having a nice way to count down to events, and Up Ahead is far and away the king here.


It's hard to say on this one. I haven't used the AI features since ChatGPT's web interface added so much recently, so my behavior has naturally had me using the free features anyway, so this one shouldn't be a problem. I'll keep using Raycast, but I don't feel the pain of using only the free features.


Sometimes I need to make a very quick little thing, and Sketch was nice for that, so now I'm using Figma for those little things and it's great too, but it is a little slower to open and wants to sync everything to the cloud, so it's just a little less convenient. $120/year less convenient? Nah, I'll be okay.

Acknowledging that work also pays for Figma, so this is a bit unfair to Sketch, but that's the way it is.

Microsoft 365

I sometimes use OneDrive to share larger files with people, but I have Google Drive and iCloud for that as well, so this isn't a big loss. It just means I can’t sync files from my Windows machine from the file system and need to go to the web to upload anything I want across devices.


Tough one, but I'm okay. Google search results continue to be quite good for me, although I do get annoyed by the number of ads in those results. Tough one, I don't know if I'll be going back soon or not.


As a reminder, this wasn't Google entirely, it was my second paid Google account, and this one actually hasn't gone away yet because I haven't been able to migrate my Google Photos library over to the other Google account I want them in. I'm working through the years now, so hopefully I can pull the plug soon.


I miss Dithering, but I‘m good on the rest for now.

I’m going to stick with everything until New Year’s, and then I’ll make choices about what comes back. Early contenders include Fantastical, Readwise Reader, and Parcel.