677: Software Club: Fantastical

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Great episode as per usual. As a current paid subscriber of Fantastical I wished the interview had covered the reasoning behind the large increase in subscription costs that was announced a couple of months ago.

I came from Fantastical 2 so I am grandfathered in for a number of key features, the latest price hike makes it very difficult for me to justify the extra cost for the few (but valuable) extra features that the subscription offers me.

I really do love fantastic, and as someone who aspires to be as organised as @MacSparky I am happy to pay a reasonable reoccurring cost for this app, however I am not sure if the latest price in the UK can be justified as reasonable for me.

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That was interesting. I stopped using fantastical a few months ago because I figured my calendar needs were modest but then subscribed again … because it made my life easier.

I love it when I can pay a small company to make my life easier. I pay the big one enough.

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I am still paying for Fantastical, but switched to Cron. If Cron managed to completely replace Fantastical in my workflow, I will cancel my subscription.

Can anyone send me an invite to cron.

Solid interview. I know we’ve some Craft CMS fans here; the Andrew Welch reference was a fun crossover. :slight_smile:

Calendar sets are way better than having to toggle calendars on and off, but when you do need to temporarily toggle calendars that aren’t in a set, Fantastical requires more clicks than Calendar or Google Calendar. The mention of use of Siri Shortcuts made me wonder: is there a way to temporarily change a calendar set and display it via scripting?

Adam Engst posted his response from Michael Simmons about the price hike on TidBITS yesterday:

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This is fantastic! Fantastical is one of those companies you rarely hear about. Hardly any Mac podcaster, Mac influencer ot Mac blogger ever pays attention to them. Let alone MPU. So great they finally get the stage they deserve! A huge surprise.

Next time… 1Password?

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Disappointed that Michael didn’t address the recent price hike – which at 60%+ in Europe is quite substantial – on the podcast.

I have cancelled my subscription and will likely move away from free Fantastical and close the account but I still wonder why it would have not been feasible to have multiple pricing tiers, although he explains this ‘game of numbers’ so I guess the loss of subscribers is calculated in.

What is difficult to factor in, however, is the fact that those who leave will likely stop recommending Fantastical to their peers and will likely not consider coming back themselves.

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Thank you for referring to that post. I have been a Fantastical user since v1 - and although I am “grandfathered” in feature-wise because I owned v2, I still am a subscriber, not only because of those new features, but also in support of the developer. My subscription will run out in September (this is how I deal with ALL subscriptions in the AppStore: I cancel them right after renewal, I prefer to renew subscriptions actively, when I feel that I really need them).

Adam Engst wrote in his post in the TidBITS community that the developer feels that “$4.75 monthly or $57 per year is a fair price for the premium features”. It is totally fine to make this decision. They have positioned themselves in the market with this new price point, they see themselves elsewhere in comparison to where they have been back in 2011. The thing is that I do not need most of the premium features (and do not use most of them) and while I understand that the developer is not responsible for VAT tax and currency fluctuations, $57 is not the price we are paying in Europe. Adam Engst closes his post with: “… both apps really are available in a free mode with reduced features. If you don’t need the premium features, there’s nothing preventing you from using them for free.” And this is absolutely correct - even more so for former v2 customers. But - it may be a personal pet peeve, I get that - I hate it to be confronted with options in the UI that are not available to me, because I am no subscriber. I get why that is, but this is not how I like to use software.

So, the decision to be made here in my personal situation: Is it ok to keep paying a yearly subscription fee of 70 Euro per year just to “support the developer” given my limited use of Fantastical? This is what I started to ask myself when I received Flexibits’ email with the announcement regarding the newest price increase back in December.

Fantastical has changed since v1. Its feature set is impressive, it is a very good application for calendar power users. Which I am not. I miss the old Fantastical which did exactly what I needed:

  • a menu bar app in MacOS
  • a beautiful calendar app in iOS

I do not need time zones, conference call detection, “interesting calendars” and so on. What I need is a good way to access my calendar right from the menu bar - and a calendar app on iOS that has more options than the stock app.

Which led me to Calendar 366. So, I tried to live without Fantastical during the last three weeks: I uninstalled the app, used Calendar 366 (and sometimes Apple’s app on the Mac) and … I did not miss a thing. So, I guess that after 12 years with Fantastical, I have moved on - as has Flexibits. And this is 100% ok and fine.

P.S. While I get the fact that those ongoing “subscription complaints” are tiresome at times, I have to agree that it would have been nice to address the significant price increase because this really is the elephant in the room right now. I am not talking about defending the increase, just explaining why they did it and in what market segment they see their app going forward. I am grateful for Flexibits’ work since 2011 when I bought my first license and I do wish them all the best for the future. I think that there is a market for this app in its new setting, it just is not for me any longer: it does more than I need and I cannot justify the cost of 70 € per year for a calendar app.

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That requires an email address, send me in DM.

I’m in the midst of listening to this, and $60 is a lot, but I really like the interface, and I’ve been using it for a while. I wish I’d taken advantage of the holiday sale before the price hike, but that’s on my and my procrastination.

I did start to wonder, though, if his time at CC might be one of the reasons we don’t see tighter integration with Things. I wish those two apps could talk to each other, and maybe that will happen one day, but it just seems like the longer the two apps exist without interoperability, the less likely it will be that that will happen.

Every time he comes on a show, though, I’m hoping we’ll hear something about a Mail app because I’d love to see a Flexibits approach to mail on the Mac and iOS.

Same here, for OF. My impression from the interview is that their interest in integrations was replaced by their interest in building their own environment. Maybe they can grow back into building out integrations with the extra $20. :innocent:

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I completely forgot that Flexibits is based in Huntington. I grew up a few miles from Huntington Village–East Northport, which is a part of Huntington. Not a lot of tech companies in Huntington!

I also forgot that I’m grandfathered in to the features of Fantastical V2, because I paid for that product.

This may be the first episode of MPU to actually save a listener money.

Flexibits is looking for a Windows developer.

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I need to look at the V2 features since I’m not sure I use all the V3 features. Thanks for that reminder!

You can replicate calendar sets using focus modes in the default calendar app, at no cost.

It’s close. Definitely good enough if you were just using calendar sets as a focus tool that lines up with focuses in other apps.

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I’m pretty sure Ivory will be up next…

I’ve looked at Fantastical several times. Great product. But I’ve been a BusyCal user for ages and now that’s it’s part of SetApp, I get it, BusyCard, Better touch tool, Clean my Mac, and … (you get the picture) for $60 more per year. If you’re a Craft user or Hook you essentially cover those subscriptions and you get the other programs that SetApp includes. Can’t find a feature in Fantastical than I need that BusyCal doesn’t have.

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