Subscriptions vs Paid up front apps

After trying a new app every month or so, I’ve stuck with two important apps for my task management system and email client for the last year and a half or so. They are Todoist for my task management and Airmail for my email. However, in the last month or so I’ve tried some new applications and services that have got me thinking about two different pricing models, Subscriptions and paid up front apps.

Things 3

The two new apps that I have been trying are Things 3, a new task management app which has a single pay up front pricing model (it’s their first paid upgrade since they launched with the iPhone app costing $9.99 and iPad app costing $19.99). This is in contrast with Todoist which has a premium subscription of $29 a year. As such, for the price of one years todoist, you get several years of updates from Things.

Of course, there are differences in features and functionality between the two apps so there are other reasons to choose todoist over things (most notable, Todoist is a web based service that opens up the option to log in and use it on any computer and link it with online services like zapier and so on.


Newton is an email client that unlike most email clients, has a subscription based premium price plan ($50). If you pay for the premium plan, then you unlock features such as

  • read receipts
  • send later
  • snooze
  • sender profiles
  • and connected apps

In many ways it has a lot of similarities with Todoist and not just because has a pricy subscription plan, but also because it can connect with different applications and trigger different actions.

Subscriptions vs Pay up front

These connected and more web based apps have on going costs for the developers. Unlike apps which run only on your device, an app which has a cloud based component requires running a server to keep going. More users, more data, more servers, and a higher cost for the developers.

As a user, it’s not great to have to keep paying a cost each year that is the same as other apps cost in total for several years of development or is much greater in the case of Newton’s cost over Airmail. But, if you want those server based features, and you want an app to continue, you have to pay.

As for me, I’m not sure which apps I’ll settle on, but I suspect it will be Airmail and Things. They are great apps and while they miss certain features, they are still very powerful and have their own advantages…and they are cheaper.

Apple’s New IFTTT applets

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago whether Apple would add greater support for IFTTT to some of their apps and services, I’d have said it was almost a certain no (the almost would have been to save your feelings from getting hurt by laughing in your face). Yet here we are and Apple has indeed added IFTTT support to calendars and the app store. Let’s check it out.

A brief history of IFTTT

I’ve been a long time user of IFTTT for lots of little things. Sometimes services like keeping my Twitter and Facebook profile pictures in sync (hardly essential but very helpful), or testing emailing myself a breakdown of my weekly completed tasks (turns out I hate email too much for that to be very useful) and more recently some fun with Hue smart lights.

IFTTT is a service which ties two different internet based services together. For example, you can get a notification every morning with the weather forecast, or saving your instagram images to a folder on dropbox. It’s been around for a while and can be very useful for saving time and good fun as well. But Apple had never supported it until now.

Apple Calendar and the App store are two very internet based services (as you can share and publish your calendar using iCal) but this is a signifiant step of Apple lowing the wall around their security and products a bit for the sake of automation. This is especially pertinent in the recent days after the Workflow acquisition.

Workflow was a similar service but more complex that ran on iOS device and could run tasks both locally and server side to do even more complex actions (via conditional statements, menus and so on). The fact that Apple have now also opened up to a similar service suggests that they see potential in this direction.

Useful Ideas with IFTTT’s new Apple Applets

Get a notification when a specific apps price drops

If there’s a premium app that you’ve had your eye on but just can’t justify the price, try this. Set up IFTTT to give you a notification when the price drops.

Check it out here

Track your work hours in your calendar

I’ve been using this for a while and it’s very interesting to see exactly when I get to work and leave. Of course, if you charge by the hour, this might be even more useful, but there is a practical application for us all. Often, it turns out that what we think, isn’t always true.

Check it out here

Mark when you complete tasks on your calendar

Another interesting productivity trick is to mark when you complete your tasks on your calendar. That way you can start to measure when you are most productive and what sort of things you prefer to do at certain times. You can also see if you are more productivity on certain days, or just after eating etc.

This one depends on your task management app.

What do you think about these new Applets?

Would you like to see apple open up more? What services would you like to see next?



Associates: Easily create Amazon Affiliate links on iOS

One of the tasks that shows how iOS and using apps can be a lot more efficient that using a desktop is affiliate links to the app store. The amazing Blink by Jon Voorhees makes it really simple to search for and then create an affiliate link to an app store item. Well now he’s taken that knowledge and applied it to the amazon affiliate programs with associate.

A bit about blink

Although affiliate links were fairly simple to generate (simply adding your affiliate code to the end of a link to the correct page) the real issue was in finding the correct item to link to. Sure you could log into the affiliate area and search from there, or search on the iTunes webpage but it required first going to the correct spot. Blink solves that issue by creating a simple app to open which would search the right app store and generate the code seamlessly and correctly each time.

I used it a fair but but wondered why there wasn’t a good version for the amazon affiliate market place, the other store I frequently used. Well, not there is.


Associates takes the same great approach to linking as blink did however there are some key differences. The first is that unlike the App Store, often items in the Amazon App Store are different in different regions. This means you have to specify which store you want to search (though you can switch).

The search also takes place within the website for the Amazon app store so you have the search functionality of the Amazon website but finding an item brings the affiliate link much quicker than trying to fiddle with the mobile website and highlight the associate item.

Click here to get Associate: Simple Affiliate Linking for Amazon

Click here to get Blink: Better Affiliate Links