Subscription Apps, Default Apps, and Cloud Services

1Password has received some negative press because of their push for more users to switch from purchasing the app outright to a subscription model and the use of their own syncing service. They have responded on Twitter in this fashion to see of the complaints:

On a recent episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, the hosts talked at length about some of the issues around this push from 1Password (and others) and, overall, are sympathetic to the needs of software developers for recurring revenue but are a little bit sour to the push toward more cloud services from software development partners. Panic, makers of Transit (my favorite SFTP and more software), has their own sync service and so does The Omni Group.

However, this proliferation of cloud sync services along with the continued push to never own software but need to continually pay a subscription has me rethinking some of the applications I use on a daily basis.

For one thing, I have an adverse reaction to paying a subscription for things. It doesn’t need to make sense, but I hesitate every time I am asking to pay, via a subscription, for a piece of software (even one I use often). I’m far more likely to search out alternatives at that point.

Another issue is that paying a subscription, especially to another vendor, requires maintaining correct payment information over time. When my credit card expires, I need to find all of the places I have used that card and update it. If I want to change my banking provider, then I need to search out all of those areas as well.

I pay Apple for iCloud storage and an Apple Music subscription. I pay Netflix for entertainment. I pay a VPS provider for my virtual server. After that, I pay for a lot of software but I pay once, use the software, and then purchase the next version the next time I am asked to pay. It is a one time purchase. I don’t need to maintain payment information. It is simple, low maintenance, and understandable.

I have the feeling we will continue to see more software vendors moving to subscriptions models (or trying it out), and so it has me looking hard and long at utilizing built-in apps on my Apple devices. Reminders, Notes, and some others might have a more prominent places in my life especially with the ability to lock Notes, I might be able to move off of 1Password if it ever comes to that point.

Moving from OmniFocus to Reminders would be more of a challenge.

What Happened to the Month with Linux

If you want the short version here it is:

I lasted about five days before I gave in and decided that I’m just going to give up with trying to do anything like this and continue to use the best tool for the job for me, or (as my friend Aaron Spike has said), the tool most familiar to me.

The longer answer starts here:

It is the same thing that always happens. When I need to get work done, I reach for my Apple products. If I need to do something quickly, I’ll reach for my iPad and/or iPhone and/or MacBook Air/mini because, frankly, they just work. They also work well together.

I also gave in because WWDC happened.

Why is that important? BECAUSE APPLE ANNOUNCED A LOT OF REALLY COOL STUFF!

So basically, I’m just really weak.

I’m still going to keep my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE around at work for doing the odd thing here and there (and for testing), but I think that I’m even more-firmly in Apple’s camp now than I was at the end of last month.

openSUSE still would serve my needs quite ably, but I enjoy using Apple’s devices and OS (on both desktop/notebooks and mobile devices) more than I enjoy using the laptop that I currently have openSUSE installed on.

The benefits still stand, as always. I really like having a dock available so that I can bounce between work and home with the same machine and have identical setups available to me with little-to-no fuss at all. I’m hoping that Apple can come up with something similar for their notebooks (a Thunderbolt dock with a power adapter comes about as close as possible right now … but that is still two cables).

The sheer amount of available hardware is great but it is impossible to find a great laptop anymore. Most of what is available does not entice me in the slightest. Apple’s hardware still, to and for me, is the best available. I’m hoping that rumored 12″ MacBook Air will actually happen one day.

Linux is still firmly with me every day, and that is not going to change. As for this challenge, I completely failed.

Limited Computing

Here’s a quote from John Siracusa from Episode 50 of Accidental Tech Podcast about his reason for the “iPad Pro” to be both bigger and more complex (some time in the future):

It can’t be the thing most people use for computing and remain as limited as it is now.

That quote is from about 5:29. The discussion then moved onto whether the iPad will ever actually gain the things Siracusa was talking about or if people actually even want that.

That statement above is, I think, key. It really is a look into the minds of current desktop users and what they are looking for in a computer replacement. That’s the rub, looking for a direct replacement to what they currently have. I hear, see, and read this sort of thing quite often when talking about the iPad in general as well.iPad Air

I think there are assumptions being made that our current workflows or the way we currently do things is somehow innately better than what might be coming. It is the idea that our usage (thinking of power users or long-time desktop computing users) is somehow better than everything else.

I would challenge that idea. The workflows created today are tailored for windows-based computing. Trying to pry apart our current workflows and shoehorn them into a touch-oriented systems is going to be painful and, possibly (or probably) fruitless. So far, no one has cracked that and Apple has admitted as much by not adding touch screens to their Mac lineup and stating time and again that OS X and iOS are going to be separate and complementary operating systems.

However, even more than the above (that our assumptions are holding us back), I think that the limitation of an operating system like iOS is the very thing that allows many people to finally be able to use a computing device without constantly muttering “I’m not a computer person”. Every time you add complexity of any type, even when you hide it (like the multitasking switcher), it is going to bite users in some unknown way. When you added multitasking and a switcher, all of a sudden people thought they needed to police their device and clear themselves of all of those icons in the multitasking switcher (for the record, no you did not).

Being able to have more than one app on-screen (which has been discussed when thinking of the future of iOS) will ultimately mean that people will abuse that feature and cause them to get into trouble. People can’t handle multiple applications on desktops computers and we’ve been working with this for decades!

I don’t disagree that iOS is going to get improvements, that much is inevitable. What I DO disagree with is the idea that complexity is needed to make iOS more powerful. I think that the power of iOS is actually housed in its simplicity. If you chip away at the simplicity, you’re going to have a substandard product.