The new Fantastical

As far as a software uses Apple’s Reminders as backend for tasks you’re out of luck: either all pre-catalina or post-catalina, no interaction between the two ages

Yes, but it may earn you another forum badge. :rofl:

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He’s not giving it to “us”. It’s sponsored material. That’s something different. Or are you also thanking your car dealership for giving you the nice brochure for the new car you want to buy from them?


Weather seems to be pretty useless. BusyCal is offering that option too. Like that information is not available elsewhere (for free in the Notification Center e.g.).

It’s not messaging that is the issue - they made two deliberate choices, both of which are creating massive badfeeling amongst a previously very evangelical user base.

They have chosen to show all the premium features inline with the regular features, in a passive agressive “this is what you could have won” style. Most apps either don’t show the premium features until unlocked, or have them segragated somehow. This means (and it keep happening to me) that users keep accidently hitting a premium feature, and then get the “you need a subscription for this feature” dialog.

They put v3 out as an update to v2. There are many good reasons to do this (the recent episode of Upgrade on has a comment from James Thompson which explains why this is often the preffered option) from the developers point of view, and often it’s not an issue for the customer. However, because v3 so significantly changed the business model, it’s has created a lot of uncessary ill will

On the Upgrade episode Jason mentioned how that yes we all like nice things, but that sometimes nice things cost more than they’re worth to you, so you have to settle for something else. The example he used was that he’d like a Tesla, but can’t afford it, so doesn’t have one. And whilst he has a point, he’s ignoring what Fantastical did here. To stick with the car analogy, I had a Ford, took it in for it’s service, and the dealership gave me back a Tesla which was limited to behave like a Ford unless I pay the price for a Tesla. I don’t want the Tesla, I was happy with my Ford and want it back.


I’ll layer that analogy a little bit. You also had support costs built into the original Ford purchase. But now, without warning, there’s a premium support line and a regular support line, and you have to wait a bit if you’re not willing to pay into the premium bit.

But more importantly: someone else walks in behind you and buys the Tesla outright and they seem happy with the monthly premium fee. A few months later, while you’re still at the service desk complaining about subscription software, that customer walks in—turns out they decided to stop paying the monthly fee so the car stopped working. (It still looks pretty in their driveway, though.)

The ire here is warranted, though. This switch represents three out of the four sins of subscription:

  • No warning on the change.
  • Massive price increase vs. buying the new app every couple of years.
  • Loss of access to features if you stop paying.
  • Loss of access to features you previously had.(Fantastical’s upgrade model meant that this doesn’t apply in this situation.)

The latter two are the most malicious. It is astounding that you could pay in $150 CDN over three years and, if you decide to stop, you now have a $0 app, not a $150 app.

It should be restated: this is a systemic issue, facilitated by Apple’s lacking app store policies.

Both Apple and subscription-sin developers are to blame in these circumstances, though, because we’ve seen it done right.

First, there’s an alternative! Agenda’s model is essentially subscription, but it eliminates sin 3 by giving users permanent access to features they’ve paid for.

Second, the first two sins can be easily alleviated. Give users lots of warning (the opposite of Flexibits’ blaring in-app promotion at launch), and charge fees per-feature or use a tiered system.

This thread of complaints is worth something. We’ve been frustrated by subscriptions previously, but people could usually argue that the subscription was for a service. Now we’ve seen a subscription mind mapping app and a subscription calendar app. The costs to use these apps just went up considerably, and there’s no longer such thing as a “lifelong user” unless you’re being extorted. Users who loved and supported these apps for years can no longer afford them. Sure, the subscription might be worth the value to some people, but to focus on that is to miss the other changes that hurt users.

I might subscribe to Fantastical! That doesn’t mean I can’t be abhorred at the proliferation of this business model.

And to that end, @macsparky, I have all the love for you and all the other tech influencers. I’m not mad that you’ve chosen to subscribe. But I am disappointed that you et al. put so little pressure on developers to find better ways of doing this.

(And yes, I read @ismh’s policy citation a while back. I believe it that no one is paid to say these things. It seems apparent that, instead, this lack of pressure comes in the form of an implicit bias for these developers who so regularly sponsor your shows. There’s a reason we haven’t seen an “Alternatives to Squarespace” episode! :wink:)


Totally agree here. Service based apps going into subscription is fine with me just like Storage based subscriptions like Dropbox, iCloud etc. This subscription for Fantastical is welcome for some calendar heavy users like in Real estate, Sales, Attorneys etc who deal a lot with clients. But there are other individual and enterprise users like Developers who don’t interact with clients a lot, instead just love a great Calendar App and would pay the heavy upgrade fee just to have a shinny front end to the calendar for their personal use. I have access to Outlook via my work and that cannot be changed not tied to external 3rd party apps like Fantastical as its against their policy.

So as much as I just want to upgrade and support, Fantastical, you are not giving me an option here instead forcing me to just stay put with version V2. I would love the different views, UI features but really don’t care to create an account on Fantastical and don’t care scheduling features.

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Subscriptions are the current business model, I don’t see this changing anytime soon for something better or greater unless the users speak up.

I have a lot of great apps on my phone that I use daily, some I pay for the subscription price (Day One, Drafts, to name a few) Others not yet (Pocket, Feedly, Fantastical to name some more)

At the end of the day when all is said and done…here’s my criteria (in case someone wants it)

  1. Is the app functional and essential in my life, productivity and workflow?
  2. Do a test-run for a week without subscription and see if I really need the extra features.
  3. Is there a default/stock app that does the same and provides the same level of function?

That’s a brief summary, there are more questions that I ask, assign them each a point or 2. Add up the points. I try to create 10 questions for myself. Give yourself a grade.

A - instant subscribe
B - subscribe for trial period and use heavily
C or below - use standard features for a few weeks, reassess again after a week.

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It’s the greed, Dave! I don’t mind paying a flat fee and pay for an upgrade perhaps. But the never ending, bottomless money grab irks me. You own nothing!

I just paid $10 for Línea Sketch which I did like. A month later they moved to subscriptions. They brag that they are giving their old customers a year “free”. Duh: we paid! What’s free about it. At year’s end, the same customers won’t be able to get in the app AT ALL!

That’s not what I contracted for.

Apple Care was trying to give me my money back but it wouldn’t go through because of this “free” year! So once the time is up, I’ll call again.

Hell will freeze over before I subscribe to their app! Such utter contempt for the customer. Besides, it sounds illegal to me.

That’s why people get upset.:slight_smile:

Agenda has a terrific price model!


Subscriptions will not prevail in the long run. Everyone has a budget every month that they can spend on recurringly. You will subscribe/unsubscribe but the pool is limited. Eventually most will stick to Stock apps. As they will cull it so hard that it really needs to be earned like “Drafts, Agenda” who are on top of it. Only those will stay.

On the contrary, people don’t mind paying an upgrade fee for an app even if it’s out of their budget once in a year also they like it, want to support the developer and also will eventually use the apps. I personally feel the one time purchase pool in anyone’s budget is going to be much larger than the subscription pool.

Agreed that the developers need to make a living. No offense, I am a Software developer too. [ But I don’t develop apps on App Store or other platforms ]. But once someone goes out of subscription and stop using your app(s), thats it. You lost revenue from the client totally. Even upgrade revenue is lost. Your only hope is prevailing subscription revenue, which may not last long either unless its a killer app.

I may be totally wrong. It’s just a thought.

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Fair enough and that’s why people get really upset at Fantastical as well. But I just don’t see their model as being that hostile to customers. Don’t do the subscription if you don’t need the features. Fantastical is catching hell on the general antipathy towards subscriptions in this thread and I just don’t think that’s fair

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It’s not just that (although with 283 posts one could be forgiven for not seeing much else). There’s the terrible communication and the cost for a beefed up stock app.

I’ll make two points:

  1. Someone upthread suggested that Felixibits have decided to focus on power calendar users, for whom the price/feature mix works well. This is supported by the very enthusiastic review on MacStroies by a guy who lives in his calendar.

  2. This is my main objection to subscriptions. I’m a freelance, and my income varies a lot.On a one-time basis, I can buy even expensive apps when income is high, and I still get the use when income is low. Some examples of apps that are critical to me: Devonthink, Tinderbox, Curio, Omniplan, all of which I can continue to use in bad times as well as good.

The subscription model doesn’t allow me to do that. If I hit the buffers and have to cut back, I’m losing any utility (and maybe access to data).

The irony is that a major economic argument for renting rather than buying (anywhere, not just software) is that your rental costs are potentially variable - spend more when you have to, less when you need to, whereas buying (especially if you have to borrow to but) locks you into a fixed cost base. The software sub model turns that on its head - subs become fixed costs, not variable,

If sub costs are very low, maybe it doesn’t matter, but when you start adding up a wide range of subs, the numbers can get pretty large - and the more people come to depend on subscription software, the higher the subs might go.

Anyway, thats’ where I am.

As people go to stock apps or free apps, their budget frees up to spend more on the non-free apps they still want to use.

And as iOS becomes the primary device for more people, the amount of money they’re willing to pay to solve problems on it increases, so the budget isn’t fixed.

App complexity is also increasing over time, which means more revenue is needed to stay in business (so fewer competitors at the high end.)

As a result, I think budgets for subscriptions and expensive apps are increasing significantly.

Thats a nice analogy. But most will never go back to the apps that went in favor of a subscription model only. May be a new app users will try. But again the original app still lost the money. There are always new apps to try but retaining the old customers for a long time is a thin line.

That’s an interesting question (whether customers will return to a lapsed subscription.) I think it depends on how much of your work the service deletes when you’re not active. I could see someone using Fantastical for three months to manage something like a coaching season, paying ~$15/year. But if they had to re-add all their calendars and groups every year, perhaps not.

Another impediment is how Apple handles subscription trials. I don’t think it’s possible to trial the same subscription IAP twice. So if I paid for a year of Fantastical after a two week trial, let it lapse, and wanted to see if it was right for me again in three years, I think I’d have to pay up front instead of getting to trial again. That discourages re-use. On the other hand, it’s pretty likely I’d know if I needed it again without playing with it.

It’s more than a beefed up stock app. But if you fail to realise that then you really don’t need the premium features :blush:

It’s not that I don’t realise it - it’s that it doesn’t matter to me. As I said, Flexibits may be banking on that segment for whom Fantastical meets a need not met elsewhere. I think that’s probably a small segment, but it might be very lucrative

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Apart from the name… like what?

I’ve reluctantly had to let the new Fantastical go. I really wanted it to work and was happy to pay for it. The calendar sets synced across devices were a fantastic timesaver. I can’t get past the performance issues, though. On iOS, I’m still having trouble with syncing and smooth rendering/scrolling. MacOS is still choking on calendar sync and their background agent is destroying my battery life when it has work to do, which I just can’t have. I realize I might be in a weird situation because I have a few dozen delegated calendars it has to handle, but that’s what I wanted to pay to manage. :slight_smile: I’m sure they’ll be working on these issues in the next several months so my next trial will be successful.

Yes! Well said. The early MPU operated as a voice for the users, nowadays it operates more as a voice for the vendors. That in itself is not an issue, but I really struggle with the idea that MPU makes one believe they are still on the users side - IHMO they are not. The “all is well, you lose nothing” message was clearly wrong and I would have expected MPU to point this out.