Apps that I would subscribe to

In addition to my thoughts about subscriptions, I was inspired by Jeff Mueller to think about which apps might still make my cut if they jumped to a subscription model.1

My current subscriptions

First off, here are my current subscriptions that are related to apps or services on my iPhone:

  • iCloud: Why doesn't Apple just give away storage for free? Do we still have to live in times when storage considerations are necessary? Free unlimited iCloud storage would be a differentiating factor for iOS and a true lock-in for the ecosystem.
  • Dropbox: Works mostly as a backup for my iOS photos as well as my digital file drawer. My paperless office is not yet based on iCloud. With further improvements to iCloud, however, I could see myself moving away from Dropbox in a near future.
  • YNAB: It was one of the forerunners of the current subscription debate and as I went progressively iOS-only, sticking with YNAB 4 was no longer an option for me. Whatever you say about YNAB 5 as a subscription app, it has helped me get a grip of my monthly budget and I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. This is a huge win.
  • Apple Music: I was quick to switch from Spotify with the initial release of Apple Music, mostly because Apple Music had the better catalogue for the more obscure stuff that I listen to. I am somewhat frustrated about the fact that Apple Music's data usage still draws from my monthly plan, while Spotify offered a special carrier arrangement. Also, I use Siri less often than I intended to because it still doesn't bridge the language gap between English and German.2
  • Netflix: I hardly ever use it on iOS, but mostly on Apple TV.
  • Amazon Prime: Not so much for the additional entertainment services, but for the free shipping which probably does pay for itself.3
  • Overcast: I am still a patreon. I love the dark theme which uses the San Francisco font. I suppose, Overcast will be one of the first apps to jump to a subscription model.

Apps that would have to go

Now, let's take a look at apps that I would potentially stop using if they switched to subscription pricing:4

  • Overcast: I have become an Overcast patreon to support the ongoing development of the app. However, within the context of subscription triage, the unique selling positions of Overcast (Smart Speed, Voice Boost, speedy sync) are becoming less important to me. The Smart Speed statistics never showed up on my iPhone, anyway, so I am not clear on what I would really miss. These days, I am back to listening at 1x to most shows and Apple's Podcast app would probably do the job just fine.
  • Fantastical: I'd be sad to see it go as TextExpander snippets and natural language input greatly speed-up my calendar management, but the standard Calendar app has also come a long way.
  • Reeder & Feedly: I would probably question RSS in itself and go back to Safari instead.
  • Spark & Airmail5: Apple Mail, then. I'm glad I don't get much email. 
  • Scanner Pro: It has obviated my dependence on a Fujitsu ScanSnap 1300i. Most likely, I could go by with plain JPGs instead of scans because I usually don't perform OCR-related actions on my scanned documents. 
  • Waze: Apple Maps gets me pretty far already. I use Waze mostly for its traffic updates. Maps will probably get better in the future in this regard, even though slowly.
  • My photosuite consisting of VSCOPixelmator and Metapho: I have high hopes for the future of Photos.app.6 I could only let go of these apps because I take a lot of pictures on my Fuji X100T and not only on my iPhone which requires less post-processing on my part. 
  • Streaks: I am using Streaks to outsource habits I want to form from my main task management system. I could see myself integrating these, though.
  • PillowI use this app daily to track my sleep. I have learned a lot from it about what influences the quality of my sleep, so much that I can go by without its help now. 
  • Notability & Goodnotes: If Notes.app sees further improvements, the additional benefits of these two are marginal to me.
  • Weather apps: I am currently using AccuWeather Platinum. I would stop using it.7
  • Ulysses: Sad story. I love this app, but Drafts is becoming my main text editor and I could go by without Ulysses.
  • Social media: Finally, a new reason to look for other channels of interpersonal communication.
  • Messaging apps: Everybody is on Whatsapp, these days. I still prefer iMessage whenever it is applicable and hope it catches up in iOS 10.

Probable subscriptions

Even though I want as few subscriptions as possible, I would consider subscribing if these apps went for it:

  • Drafts: It's more and more becoming the only place for textual interaction on my phone. Recently, I started using it as my main text editor and I hardly ever find myself needing another writing app.
  • 2do: My task management app of choice since I switched from OmniFocus as half the Internet did. There is no going back to a Reminders.app based system.
  • 1Password: Only to be questioned by a thorough overhaul of iCloud Key Chain.
  • Workflow: Oddly enough, I mostly use it as a health tracker. For any serious consideration of iOS as a main operating system, though, it's a must-have. 
  • Copied: It's possible to emulate its functionality in Drafts, but as you can only run one instance of an app in split screen multitasking, going without Copied diminishes my productivity when I need it. It has also become my TextExpander replacement to some extent.
  • Splitwise: Not a lot of talk about this longstanding staple of mine on the Internet. However, my girlfriend and I are using it daily to keep track of our joint expenses and it saves us the awkward discussion on who is paying for what next. 
  • PDFexpert: No better way to work with PDFs.
  • Stronglifts 5x5: This app is a great, no-BS help in becoming stronger.

I am using Bobby as a tracker for my subscriptions on iOS. I bet I'll have to use it more frequently in the near future. 

  1. For the sake of this argument, I will focus on frequently used apps that I work with at least once a week.  ↩︎
  2. It's too awkward to pronounce the English names of artists in a phonetic German version. ↩︎
  3. I did stream Fear the Walking Dead from Prime Video to my Apple TV, though. ↩︎
  4. It's not that I don't like these apps. They do solve problems for me in a big manner, but if I had to subscribe to them, I could most likely find a simpler alternative. ↩︎
  5. Still not fully decided, but I lean more heavily towards Spark these days. Airmail is just too buggy. ↩︎
  6. Raw support?  ↩︎
  7. The margin of error in weather forecasting is still too great, anyway. ↩︎