The only silver lining to having to take a server offline — when a few services depend on it — is that I might as well upgrade a couple other servers while I’m at it.→ 2016/06/27 11:27 am
I had been ignoring a lingering problem on one of my servers for the last few weeks, and this morning it came back to bite me. Apologies for the downtime to Tweet Marker and other services. Hoping to get everything back online soon.→ 2016/06/27 10:52 am
From dinner at Lucy’s Fried Chicken on the Lake.
“Records are meant to be broken.” — LeBron James, 3 days ago→ 2016/06/19 9:49 pm
Thought I’d try Xcode 8 with one of my current projects, then quickly reconsidered in the face of Swift 3.0 syntax errors. Probably going to sit out some of these early betas.→ 2016/06/18 11:25 am
I’m back from San Francisco, catching up on everything I missed while traveling. I recorded a few podcast episodes during WWDC week, both my own and an interview.
On Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked right after the keynote about the morning’s announcements. From the show notes:
Manton and Daniel react to the 2016 WWDC keynote. […] iMessage and Siri extensibility, Continuity improvements, Apple Pay for the web, Apple’s keynote diversity, and more.
In the middle of the week, I talked with John Voorhees of MacStories about WWDC news but also a lot about microblogging. It may be the most I’ve shared about my latest project, all in one place.
Yesterday, I recorded a short episode of Timetable. I wanted to capture what the trip to San Francisco each year means to me, outside of the conference itself. I find the week a good opportunity to reset and think about where my focus should be across my projects.
Live-streaming all the WWDC sessions is a remarkable improvement. Thanks Apple.→ 2016/06/14 6:27 pm
Wandering around the Financial District to find the Transamerica Redwood Park. Beautiful spot to take a break from thinking about new iOS APIs.→ 2016/06/14 4:56 pm
Thought I could edit Core Intuition real quick before grabbing lunch and then heading to the game in Oakland, but it’s not realistic. Good news is that in attempting to, I checked out the WeWork space on Market to work for a little while. We’ll get the WWDC episode out sometime in the morning.→ 2016/06/13 5:14 pm
I would’ve been happy just with the watchOS and macOS (!) changes, so pretty great to see all the new iOS APIs. About to record an episode of Core Intuition.→ 2016/06/13 2:52 pm
Big news day already and WWDC hasn’t even started. LinkedIn acquired by Microsoft, Storehouse shutting down… I’m at AltConf for the morning and looking forward to the keynote.→ 2016/06/13 11:57 am
Beautiful day at The Presidio. I’m here to check out the Pinocchio exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum and stumbled on to the Off the Grid Picnic with a bunch of food trucks.→ 2016/06/12 4:28 pm
I’ll be in San Francisco for WWDC, although as usual in recent years I won’t be staying all week. While out there I’ll be attending AltConf and other events, recording a podcast or two, and catching up on some writing.
I probably should take my MacBook Pro to code on projects, but I never have time. And I’ve been working so much lately, I probably need a break from Xcode for a few days. So I’m going to travel light this time and only take my iPad Pro with me.
I used my iPad Pro often when working from coffee shops and libraries earlier this year. I think I have a pretty good sense of what I’m productive with on it. iPhone and Mac app coding is out, but email, chat, writing blog posts, and even light web site maintenance are all fine, and those are the kind of things I do while traveling.
That leaves podcast recording as the only question mark, but actually I’ve recorded every episode of Timetable using my iPhone specifically so that I could get used to recording away from my office. I wrote a few months ago about my microphone for Timetable. I’ll do the same thing when Daniel and I record our WWDC thoughts after the keynote, with editing on the iPad Pro.
I’m excited about the conference. I’m looking forward to catching up with folks, the news from Apple, and — because I won’t even have my laptop — a bit of a break from the stress of thinking I should be programming.
Most developers hope we get a Siri API, but I’m not sure they agree on what that means. It could be a native SDK or it could be a web-based API more like Alexa Skills. The latter seems to better complement Apple’s weakness in services.→ 2016/06/10 8:48 am
Jason Snell closed his first take on App Store subscriptions with a question about iPhone app maintenance vs. web services maintenance:
Whether Apple would actually reject a subscription-based app that doesn’t offer any functionality outside of itself, I don’t know. It sure wouldn’t be the first time there was a baffling App Store rejection. But does Apple really want to take the position that ongoing maintenance of a web service has value, but ongoing maintenance and development of an app does not? I don’t think it does.
As I wrote about in my post yesterday, users can more easily see the hosting costs for a web service. They’ve been trained by a decade of paying for web subscriptions. Maintenance for the app itself has some differences.
Think about how costs scale if an app becomes popular. A web service becomes expensive to run, often thousands of dollars each month. You could say that a developer’s time for app maintenance is also thousands of dollars, but it’s essentially fixed. Outside of customer support costs, the incremental cost to a developer for an app doesn’t increase in the same way it does for scaling a backend service.
I hate that Apple has the power to reject our business model for a potential app. I’m now leaning more to the idea that Apple should approve nearly everything and let customers decide on the value. But there is a difference between maintenance of an app vs. a web service, and the services that are clearly appropriate for subscriptions will be the most successful apps using this new model.
We published Core Intuition episode 236 today, discussing the recent App Store announcements and a listener question about offices. We wrap up with plans for WWDC.
There has been a lot of great blog posts and podcast episodes already on the App Store subscription change. I listened to Under the Radar 31 and the Release Notes special edition today and recommend both. The most confusion seems to be around what kind of apps are appropriate for subscriptions, where by “appropriate” I mean “what Apple will approve”.
John Gruber also follows up at Daring Fireball on this question:
Professional apps that require “a lot of maintenance of new features and versions” don’t fit either of those categories. Would Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific qualify for subscription pricing? After talking to Schiller yesterday, I thought so. Now, I don’t know.
As I mention on Core Intuition, apps that have a backend service with obvious hosting and maintenance costs — a music streaming service, an invoicing web app, or a blogging platform, for example — are easier for users to understand as needing to be subscriptions. Twitter apps are an interesting example because some are pure clients to Twitter’s backend, but many increasingly have their own app-specific services like timeline syncing or push notifications.
For years Apple has allowed apps to use auto-renewing subscriptions. I had an iPhone app and companion web service that was approved by Apple for auto-renewing subscriptions, after I made the case for the service as a “cloud” archive. From section 11.15 of the App Store review guidelines:
Apps may only use auto-renewing subscriptions for periodicals (newspapers, magazines), business Apps (enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), and media Apps (video, audio, voice), or the App will be rejected
From my experience and listening to other developers, I’ve had the impression for a while that Apple would essentially reject most auto-renewing app submissions by default. While we still don’t know what “all categories” means in the new announcement, I expect it means that there will no longer be a kind of blanket rejection. Apple will still reject many apps as poorly suited for subscriptions, though, and maybe that’s okay for now.
(I’m conflicted on this point. John Gruber’s suggestion to approve everything and let the market decide is compelling and fits better with my instinct that the control should be in developers’ hands.)
“Subscription fatigue” is a real thing that I’ll occasionally hear from customers about. No one wants to pay $1/month to 40 different apps and services; it feels like a burden in a way that paying the same total price to just two apps at $20/month does not. Nevertheless, subscriptions are very powerful. Everything I’ve done over the last few years is to position myself to eventually have a recurring-revenue success.