Popular iOS app Notability paywall features that users have already paid for


Update 1 (03/11/2021 @ 04:40 ET): Notability has decided to give initial buyers lifetime access to premium features, following outrage online. The article as published on November 2, 2021 is kept below.

Notability – one of the most popular note-taking apps on iPhone, iPad, and Mac – has moved to the freemium business model. While we’ve seen this move happen with other apps before, this app is removing features that users had previously paid for. So if you’ve purchased the app and in-app purchases (IAP) to unlock additional features in the past, you’ll be treated like any other free user a year from now.

Owned by Ginger Labs, Notability announced in a Medium blog post that it will be free on the App Store. Users who previously purchased the app will get a free subscription for one year. Subsequently, they will lose all premium features in favor of a paywall, including those purchased separately as an IAP, such as handwriting recognition. This enraged users on online platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, according to MacRumors.

This decision does not seem fair to users who had to buy the app for $ 8.99, in addition to other IAPs. Usually, apps that pass to the original freemium grandfather users and provide them with additional benefits. In this case, the initial buyers only receive one year of bonus. And that’s clearly not enough, according to their complaints online.

It also arguably violates Apple App Store guidelines. From section 3.1.2:

If you change your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not remove the core functionality that existing users have already paid for. For example, allow customers who have already purchased a “full game unlock” to continue to access the full game after introducing a subscription model for new customers.

Notability is currently in the top rankings for productivity apps on the App Store and carries the Editors’ Choice badge. It has grown over the years – thanks to the support of paid users – and has become one of the most recommended apps for note taking. As a result, users feel betrayed and disappointed with the way they are treated, despite their loyalty over the past few years.

Are you using Notability? If so, what do you think of their new business model? Let us know in the comments section below.

Update 1: Notability has decided to give initial buyers lifetime access to premium features

Following the outrage online across multiple platforms, it looks like Notability has decided to do the right thing, according to MacRumors. In a future update 11.0.2, initial buyers of the app will have lifetime access to existing premium features. Notability warns, however, that they cannot guarantee that new features in the future will also remain free. It all depends on maintenance costs and other factors.

The announcement was made in a tweet linked to another Company’s Medium blog post. While this move will certainly make some of the original users happy, it seems a bunch of them still feel betrayed. It is not known whether the company has reversed its decision to avoid further damage or if it actually cares about its users. Some users even claim that this decision was made to avoid being kicked from the App Store for violating Apple guidelines. There is nothing more they can do at this point anyway.


About Shirley A. Tamayo

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