Blog logoMatthew Lang


A 20 post collection

Subscription pricing for Day One

 •  Filed under Posts, Apps, Business

Day One's change to subscription pricing model is taking some flak but I think it's a good move for them and ensures that it will be around for a long time to come.

Subscription pricing isn't new to apps, but it's on the rise and this is largely in part because upgrade prices alone for apps are not sustainable.

A great example of app pricing in my book is the Todoist app. While the Todoist app itself is free, they also have a premium subscription which really adds value what you get from using Todoist. It's subscription models like this that are the way forward. Paying for the software you use on a regular basis. In a lot of cases the pricing is very reasonable and I certainly wouldn't argue over paying between $20 and $50 per year for software that I value and use on a daily basis.

David Sparks rounds up the changing landscape of app pricing nicely.

The traditional model for productivity apps was the upgrade price, where developers released a new version every year or so and everyone paid a reduced fee upgrade price. I know the App Store has made improvements over the last few years but, having zero inside knowledge, I can’t help but feel we will never see upgrade pricing in the App Store. In the meantime expect more quality apps to go to the subscription model and, if they are apps you love (or even like), I’d encourage you to support them through the transition.

Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing by David Sparks

Replacing Evernote with Bear

 •  Filed under Links, Apps

Bear uses a simple three-paned design. The largest column is devoted to your current note. A smaller column to the left contains your notes in reverse-chronological order, topped by a search bar. The left-most column contains notes that you’ve pinned, as well as any tags you’ve created to organize your notes — #recipes, for example. I spent years trying to sort my notes into notebooks in Evernote, only to learn that what I really needed was a faster search box.

Why I finally replaced Evernote with Bear by The Verge

I've been a user of Bear for a few months now. Previously I used Simplenote but I found it lacking in a few features. Bear has these features along with a much more pleasant interface.

Timepage 2.0 Update

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools, Apps, Productivity

My favourite calendar app, Timepage, has just been released with a number of particularly nice features.

Theme colours

The themes preferences screen gets an overhaul that allows better manipulation of the theme as well as new colours and the ability to use light or dark text for your theme.

Advanced Repeating Events

Events can now be repeated with greater granularity. One example of this is you can set an event to repeat on a particular day and week of the month and repeat it a number of times.

Better Notes

Notes now support URLs, flight numbers, email addresses and phone numbers.

There's a also a number of other features and improvements like synchronisation between devices, text size and calendar colours.

What sets Timepage apart from other calendar apps for me is the user-interface. It's not like your typical calendar app. Almost all calendar apps start from a month view and work down to a daily view.

Timepage is different in that it starts with a view the upcoming days and allows you to switch to a heat map of the month or a view of your day.

The iPhone and iPad applications both share the same look and feel but with the extra screen space on the iPad you get a split screen view of the upcoming days and what's happening today.

There's also nice integration with Dark Sky for weather updates on both the iPhone and iPad versions.

All I need now is a version of this app for my macOS and the set of Timepage apps will be complete.

Goodbye Vesper

 •  Filed under Apps, Links

The notes app Vesper has closed down. I wasn't a user of Vesper but I did give it a try just over a year ago.

I'm never happy to see a product close down that the people behind it have invested in and love using, but there's a lesson here that many people ignore.

You need revenue.

John Gruber's analysis of what went wrong is simple and a lesson for anyone thinking that pricing a product is just a matter of slapping a price on it.

What went wrong was very simple. We never made enough money. Why we didn’t make enough money, what we should have done differently to make more money — those are complex questions (which I’ll tackle below). But what actually sunk Vesper was not complicated. Even as a relatively popular app at a relatively high price (for iOS), revenue was never high enough.

Vesper, Adieu by John Gruber

Sad to see Vesper go, but hat tip to John for providing such a detailed breakdown of what went wrong and what the Vesper team should have done to generate revenue for the app. This is required reading for anyone getting in the apps game with an idea of their own.

Hello Simplenote

 •  Filed under Daily Post, Note Taking, Apps, Tools

For a long time I’ve been looking for a notes application for myself. The criteria for such an application are simple:

  • It must be available on at least my laptop and phone
  • It should support Markdown
  • It should support plain text files

I’ve tried a few different notes applications in the past and a few wiki based solutions as well. The problem with most of the wiki based solutions is that they need a web server to run on which means a few bucks in hosting. Not a major problem but I’d prefer to not use a homegrown solution if it means needing a web server to run on.

I’ve also tried desktop based solutions like nvAlt but the lack of being able to view notes on my phone is a deal breaker so that didn’t meet my needs.

Finally I tried Apple’s own Notes app which recently received a minor upgrade and a number of useful features. The benefits of such an app are clear. Synchronised notes through iCloud, available on multiple devices and there’s little chance of Apple doing away with such an app. Drawbacks? I couldn’t think of any other than the lack of Markdown support but that’s me being picky if I’m being honest.

For a while I used Apple’s Notes app without fault but I missed the use of Markdown. Almost everything I write is in Markdown and not having the ability to take a note and copy and paste some if it’s contents to another Markdown supported application started to nag me.

It was back to the drawing board then. I looked online and after a few searches I came across Simplenote. To be honest I dismissed Simplenote in the past but for the life of me I can’t remember why.

I started by installing the Simplenote app on my phone and migrating a few of my notes over from Notes and Trello. I did have to do a few edits on the notes from the Notes app but the notes from Trello was a straight copy and paste.

Simplenote does support Markdown in it’s desktop based apps for Windows and Linux and also for the web client, but there’s no support (that I can see) on the OSX app and the iPhone app. It’s not a big problem though, as I suspect that this feature is coming soon for these platforms. I can wait.

Aside from the Markdown support in Simplenote there’s a number of other benefits that make keeping notes here easy.

Simplenote allows you to add tags to notes. This makes organising your notes much easier. Tags appear at the bottom of the note you can also filter your notes using these tags.

You can also pin notes so that they appear at the top of your notes list. This doesn’t make much of a difference in the apps that use larger screens, but on the iPhone app it makes navigating to these notes a lot easier. I have a number of notes that I use on a daily basis so it’s nice to be able to get to them quickly.

Finally there’s the ability to publish notes. It’s a feature I’ve been looking for in a number of wikis and note applications ever since I closed my Backpack account a number of years ago. Backpack was a great product and I regret closing my account there. It’s always been the best notes based application that I have used. The ability to publish pages from Backpack was a feature that I used so that I could bookmark a number of notes and have them readily available in my web browser. It’s nice to see a similar feature in Simplenote.

It’s early days with Simplenote but one thing that’s clear is that I like the minimal user interface and the small feature set. It does the job of keeping my notes accessible and in the one place and it does this job well. And that’s all I can ask for.