Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: Revisiting App Subscription Fatigue

When Apple introduced iOS App Store subscriptions last year, there was a lot of talk about subscription fatigue. It was unknown how many people would be willing to pay monthly or annually for apps, and many people had a dim outlook on developers’ prospects of making regular income from everyday users.

It’s been a little over a year since subscriptions were turned on in the App Store, and a bunch of popular apps have made the move. I was curious to see how many apps I’ve signed up to pay for on an on-going devices, so I opened the App Store on my iPhone, navigated to my account settings and opened the Subscriptions page to see.

(A quick side note on this screen of the App Store. It feels and acts like a web view, as opposed to a native screen within the App Store app. It’s really odd, and I can’t quite put my finger on why Apple would build it this way…)

There were a few more apps in this list than I had anticipated. After scanning the list, I realized that not all of my subscriptions are for apps that I’m actively using, so I was able to set several of them to no longer renew.

The detail screen has a setting to change between monthly and annual subscriptions, if the developer supports those options. I’ve been using Nomorobo to block robocalls for several months and really like it, so I opted to “upgrade” that subscription to an annual one to save a few bucks over the next 12 months.

After some review and pruning, these are the app subscriptions I’m paying for now. The list is now much more in line with the apps I’m actually using on a regular basis:

  • Apple Music – $14.99/mo: My wife and I both recently moved to Apple Music after using a mashup of local iTunes libraries and Spotify, and we’re both really happy with it. I find it a little weird that this shows up in the Subscriptions list as we use an iCloud Family Sharing Account, but oh well.
  • Carrot Weather – $1.49/month: I pay for the “Ultrapremium” level to have access to Weather Underground data, which is more accurate in my neck of the woods than the default Dark Sky.
  • Day One – $2.99/mo – I’ve used this app as my journal for many, many years, racking up almost 1,300 entries since 2011. I store all sorts of memories here, and just love how the app looks and works, especially on the iPad.
  • Nomorobo – $1.99/mo: The aforementioned robocall blocker. It makes having a phone number way more tolerable.
  • Overcast – $0.83/mo: Overcast is the only app in my list that only bills annually, so that monthly amount is a little weird. This lets me disable ads and have access to upload files directly to Overcast, which is extremely handy in my line of work.

All in all, I’m paying $22.29 a month for access to some of the most commonly-used apps on my iPhone and iPad. Of that, the bulk of the money is going to Apple Music, which I use on all of my devices — including my iMac every day at work.

One on hand, that’s more money that I was spending on apps and services before this came along, but after doing some maintenance on my list, I’m comfortable with the expenditure.

These apps and services are all things I use nearly every day, and they make my nerd life better. I could cut back if I needed to, and thankfully Apple makes that really easy to do, but for now, I don’t feel the fatigue we were all worried about last year.

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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