One month ago, I tossed out nearly $1,000/year in subscriptions so that I could see what apps and services I missed the most. I told myself I wouldn’t bring anything back for one month so that I could really get used to the alternative apps, and not make any hasty decisions. Since exactly one month is Christmas Day, and Birchtree’s international headquarters will be closed for this holiday, I thought I’d give the final update on this experiment a few days early.
Even after bringing back some subscriptions as listed below, I’ll save $779 in 2024. That means $192 in subscriptions are back on the table, and I feel even better than before that these are the right apps for me.
What I brought back
I don’t want to get into what stayed on the cutting room floor (see this post for some pain points I ran into), but here’s what came back and why I felt the money was well spent.
- Fantastical ($56/year): I tried living in a Cron + Apple Calendar world, and I simply couldn’t. I make a lot of calendar events, and the natural language entry alone was honestly worth the price all on its own for me. Add to that a better UI across the board, reliable syncing, and a proper inbox in the app for new calendar invites (something essential for my work) and this one had to come back. In fact, if I was only allowed one app to let back into my life from this list, it would be Fantastical.
- Readwise Reader ($96/year): Omnivore did a really nice job in some ways, but ultimately I’m a Readwise guy. I had issues with Omnivore’s article parsing that were a constant annoyance, and there were just a few paper cuts that were annoying. I could keep using this if I wanted, but I’m just happier with Readwise.
- Ivory ($25/year): I really think Mona is a great app, and I did also take this opportunity to try out a few other Mastodon apps again, but Ivory has my heart. Mastodon just feels right in Ivory to me, and that’s worth $25 to me every year. Some people are annoyed that the app doesn’t get as many updates as some others out there, and to that I’ll just say that if you’re the best app for me already, then I don’t particularly feel the pain of slower update cycles. I’m paying for the best experience, not the most updates.
- Parcel ($5/year): My experiment using UPS, FedEx, and USPS apps was a disaster and I hated every moment of it. Re-adding the cheapest subscription on this list was a no-brainer. I would love it if this app could get a UI makeover, though; it really has some UI and UX issues I’d love to see polished up.
- Up Ahead ($10/year): I mentioned in my first update post that I brought this one back already, and yeah, it turns out I really love being able to have a delightful widget on my home screen counting down to events coming up.
Ok, I will mention one app I stopped paying for
I cancelled by Raycast subscription, and a big reason for that was their pro subscription was basically all about having ChatGPT built into the app. That seemed like a good deal at the time, and I did use it a bunch at first, but over time I used it less and less; not because I stopped using ChatGPT, but because I found the web interface more useful and more powerful in ways the Raycast integration couldn’t match.
Raycast does its own version of Spotify Wrapped, and one of the pages of stats it shows you is all about how you used its AI features. This was mine:
Now this is on a MacBook Pro I bought in July, so the first half of the year isn’t accounted for in these numbers, and my work computer isn’t counted either, but according to this, I used the integrated AI features…13 times in 6 months. That ain’t worth $96/year to me.
I think this is a good example of how tenuous these thin wrappers over ChatGPT really are. Raycast made the main reason you should pay them their AI features, and it was the best wrapper over ChatGPT I’ve used, as ChatGPT has made their features better they’re removing the need for other interfaces to the same thing. I like Raycast and want the team over there to be successful, so I hope they find something else to pin their Pro sales pitch to, because I would bet I’m not the only one who has had this experience.