From the dawn of the App Store, it’s always been our goal to provide the best possible App Store experience that we can for our apps. We were there with our apps on the day the store launched, so that you could make your own choice about how you wished to purchase our software. And three years later, we finally solved the problem of offering upgrade discounts to our App Store customers, an offer which started with OmniGraffle 6 and continued through the rest of our product line.
But even with those discounts, the experience of buying our apps on the App Store still had some limitations when compared to buying directly from our own online store:
All of these limitations stem from a single underlying problem: they’re all due to the fixed cost of the original download of the app. If that download didn’t have that fixed price, all of these problems would be within our power to solve.
“Well, that’s sad,” some might say. “But that’s just the way the App Store works, isn’t it? At least you do offer customers a choice to use your own store, so it’s not like they’re forced into that experience if they don’t want it.”
I guess that’s true enough, at least for our Mac apps. But it’s still not ideal. And while customers can choose to buy directly from us on Mac, our iOS customers don’t have that choice. There’s no way for them to ever try our apps before buying them (unless they’re lucky enough to visit an Apple retail store when our apps are being featured). Or to get the price protection that we try to offer all our customers. Or to get upgrade discounts on the non-Pro edition of the app.
We’ve been asking Apple to extend the App Store to support all of these capabilities, of course. And they’ve certainly made changes to the App Store over the years to offer more flexibility in the way people buy software there, even if they haven’t addressed this specific problem.
Or… have they?
The underlying problem, as noted above, is that downloading the app has a fixed cost. We’ve always set that cost to be the standard price of our app, leaving us no way to charge less. But what if we take a fresh look at this problem, and make our downloads free? You know, like every iPhone app in the Top Grossing List has already done? It’s not that they don’t sell anything—or they wouldn’t be on that list. They just don’t sell the original download. (Which we’ve never done on our own store either.)
With the original download free, we can implement any pricing options we want to offer customers through In-App Purchases. We can offer our standard unlocks of Standard and Pro, of course. But we can also offer a free 2-week trial which unlocks all of the features of Pro and Standard, letting you freely choose between them. We can offer a discounted upgrade to the new Standard. And we can offer free upgrades to the new versions to any customers who recently purchased the old app.
Well, I’m pleased to share that that’s exactly what we’re going to do—starting next month, with the App Store edition of OmniGraffle 7:
The app is now a free download. When you first run the app, you’re asked whether you’d like to start a trial or purchase a license. But before you purchase anything, we also explain that discounted pricing is available to existing Mac App Store customers. If you check for discounts, validating your previous install, we either offer you discounted upgrade pricing (50% off) or—for recent purchasers—a completely free upgrade to the new version.
As a bonus, this free download of the app now also works as a free document viewer. You don’t have to buy anything to use the app as a document viewer; you can just dismiss the licensing dialog—in which case you’ll only be able to open documents in read-only mode. This means that our customers can send OmniGraffle documents to anyone who has a Mac, knowing that they’ll be able to download the latest OmniGraffle for free and view those documents.
This is just one small corner of what we’ve been working on for OmniGraffle 7. But I believe (and hope you’ll agree!) that this change finally lets us provide our customers with the best possible App Store experience.
P.S. — To be clear, we’re starting with OmniGraffle 7 on Mac, but will be bringing free downloads to all our App Store apps on both Mac and iOS. Also, all of our in-app purchases will remain one-time purchases (as they are today); none of them are subscriptions.
Posted by Ken Case on 29 September 2016 | 1:10 pm
Updated 2016-09-20: macOS Sierra has been released too! All of the shipping copies of our apps get cool new OS features like Universal Clipboard and Tabbed Windows automatically. For more information on app-specific updates and how OmniPresence for Mac works with the new iCloud Documents & Desktop sync feature, please see this support article.
It’s that time of year again! By now, some of you are already knee-deep in iMessage Stickers, and another large portion of you may have set up a repeating OmniFocus action to check area Apple Stores for Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus availability.
In updates that are out now, OmniGraffle, OmniPlan, and OmniOutliner are all ready for iOS 10. One of the things I’m most excited about is the ability to copy and paste between iOS 10 devices (e.g. iPhone and iPad) in all our apps using Universal Clipboard. When macOS Sierra comes out next week, you’ll be able to copy and paste between iOS and your Mac too.
OmniPlan for iOS shipped an update yesterday that supports iOS 10 (but doesn’t require it) and features App Lock—that’s the name we’re giving the ability to protect your Omni app behind a password or TouchID, to keep someone who grabs your device off your desk (be it a child or just a clumsy person) from accessing or changing your data. We’ll be bringing App Lock to all of the Omni iOS apps in the future: it’s been a popular request in all of our customer support queues and forums.
The Omni app that saw the biggest amount of work for this year’s new iOS release is OmniFocus. In June when we watched the WWDC Keynote we were excited to see that in watchOS 3 we’re finally able to do some of the things on Apple Watch that we’ve been wanting to do (and you’ve been asking us to do) since that device was introduced. We’ve re-written OmniFocus for Apple Watch for the third time in two years with great results: you get much-improved performance, a new extra-large complication, and an app that responds to the Digital Crown.
Performance is probably the best part of watchOS 3, but that Digital Crown part is the coolest. In the bottom row of the OmniFocus for Apple Watch home screen, where we used to display the continuity tile, we now give you the ability to flip between three options: Continuity (what we did before), a Custom Perspective (if you’ve purchased Pro), and Next Up (this is the item that we used to show in the Glance, based on selections you made in OmniFocus Settings). The fact that you can flip between the options so easily (with the Crown or a swipe up or down) means that OmniFocus gains a bunch of power without having another area of the app that needs setting up. One more thing—Glances are gone in watchOS 3, but if you add OmniFocus to Apple Watch’s dock, you can still see a summary of your day at a glance.
The OmniFocus improvements for iOS 10 aren’t limited to Apple Watch; we’ve also revamped the Today extension to add more power and flexibility. You’ll notice the most-requested change right away in the top right corner: a New Inbox Item button! That top row is rounded out by tappable summaries that take you directly to specific areas of the app. The rest of the widget shows the items you’ve chosen in OmniFocus Settings (or a Custom Perspective if you have Pro), with a cool new iOS 10 wrinkle: if you tap the Show Less button, you’ll get a single line display that lets you work through your actionable stuff one item at a time. Finally, iOS 10 adds that same compact view to the top of the 3D Touch Quick Actions, so you can peek at your next item with a force-press on the OmniFocus app icon.
So when can you get these updates? The OmniPlan, OmniOutliner, and OmniGraffle releases are available now in the App Store. OmniFocus 2.17 has been delayed by a day or so [update: we shipped OmniFocus 2.17 on September 20] because we’re raising the minimum OS requirement (to iOS 10) and need to sneak in one more bug fix release, 2.16.1, so that we don’t orphan customers who aren’t able to update their OS right away. If you’d like to be notified of the 2.17 release, the best thing to do is to follow @OmniFocus (or me, @kcase) on Twitter. Thanks for reading and enjoy iOS 10!
Posted by Ken Case on 13 September 2016 | 5:08 am