Ulysses as a subscription service one year later

Awhile back I wrote why I would not be subscribing to Ulysses after having paid for both the iOS and Mac versions of the program. Essentially I said that Ulysses was already functional, so I couldn’t imagine them adding enough on an ongoing basis to justify constantly feeding money to the company behind it.

According to their own website, here are the features added in versions 12 and 13, the two that have released since the switch to a subscription model, with my comments on each:

  • image previews (nice, but inessential)
  • drag and drop (iOS) (supporting OS functionality should not be a paid feature)
  • improved code blocks (improving base functionality)
  • syntax highlighting (don’t care–and there are about a billion line editors out there that already have this and don’t require a sub)
  • colored keywords (nice, but inessential)
  • “full-colored” image previews (wow, color in 2018, how remarkable)
  • single library (iOS) (inessential)
  • multi-pane editing (iOS) (inessential)
  • library focus (iOS) (this is actually kind of absurd–it’s the equivalent to hiding files/folders in the Finder)
  • “fully optimized” for iPhone X (because I’m totally writing my next novel on the iPhone X)
  • new editor theme (inessential)

These three are all related to the goal-setting feature:

  • deadlines (inessential)
  • daily goals (nice, but still inessential)
  • goal writing history (eh…)

You can see I’m indifferent to most of these new features. As I said in my post last year, Ulysses was already an outstanding writing app and there was nothing I felt it really lacked. Yes, you can always come up with more “nice to have” features, but the core program was and remains feature-complete at a base level.

If you ask me if I would pay $25 on top of the money I’d already sunk into the program to get the above features, my answer would be no.

If you ask me if I would pay $50 (the normal going rate–and the only one available to me now) on top of the money I’d already sunk to get the above features, I would offer a clipped laugh, or perhaps make a quiet choking sound.

One year into its subscription model and Ulysses demonstrates what a poor fit it is. All improvements and feature updates are welcome, of course (assuming they don’t introduce bugs or affect the core functionality negatively), but there just isn’t much value to be had here, because the program was already complete when they changed revenue models.

Addendum: On the Canadian App Store Ulysses does not appear in the Top 200 list for Free Productivity apps. A few other writing apps do, such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word and even Bear at #194 (another dubious value, IMO, as it also requires a sub). Meanwhile, the pay-once-and-it’s-yours Scrivener is #44 in the Top 200 Paid Productivity apps list. Things that make you go, “Hmm…”

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