Notability switches to subscription model

Update: Notability to let current users get everything, after all.

Popular note-taking app Notability is switching to a subscription model with their 11.0 release, which is out now. That means that the app is free to download, but usage is severely hindered, with limited editing capabilities and lack of iCloud sync across platforms. A subscription costs $15/year, but you can get it for $12 at the moment. That includes several things that was in-app purchases previously.

This is quite the turn, and it clearly rubs many users the wrong way, as the replies to the announcement tweet clearly shows. However, current users aren’t just thrown out, they’ve got access to all those subscriber features, as well as everything they used to have, for a full year.

From the announcement post:

If you’ve previously purchased Notability, you don’t need to do anything just yet! You can continue using Notability without interruption until November 1, 2022. After the year is up, you can become an annual subscriber or use the free version of Notability.

Notability isn’t the first app to go freemium, and get the backlash with it. I’m writing this in Ulysses, which went with the subscription model years ago, stumbling a bit while doing so. The same goes for popular journaling app Day One, it’s just not particularly user-friendly to change up everything for your users. That said, having a sound business model is obviously important, and while I was annoyed with the way both Ulysses and Day One altered their models, I’m now subscribing to both.

As for Notability, it’s a great app, and $15/year isn’t a lot for what you get. I wish the team all the best, and hope that they’ll weather through the bad feedback this decision has sparked.