Archive for September 11, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Apple Video Recommends App Subscriptions

Apple (via Apple Developer News):

The developers behind Elevate, Dropbox, Calm, and Bumble share how they create great customer experiences by continuing to provide value throughout the subscription lifecycle.

Juli Clover:

“The value for a user is that you’re not just buying this one thing at this one point in time, you’re actually buying something that’s evolving,” said Elevate developer Jesse Germinario.

“If you’re a subscription business, your incentives are actually perfectly aligned with your customers, because they need to continue to get value out of the product in order to keep subscribing, which means that you have to continue making the app better,” said Calm developer Tyler Sheaffer.

Ben Lovejoy (tweet):

The appeal for developers is obvious: subscriptions generate the holy grail of tech businesses, recurring income. But users appear less convinced.

Mark Munz:

Apple wants developers to move to subscriptions. Three problems that I see right away:

1) implementation of subscriptions is A LOT OF WORK… esp. for indie developers.

2) based on feedback, most customers DON’T want it

3) it doesn’t make sense for all kinds of apps.

Colin Cornaby:

I think the thing people underestimate about subscription apps is the significantly higher hurdle they create for getting them purchased in a corporate environment.

There’s this weird disparity where subscription software that every last person in the org needs (like Office) is easy. Software that only a few people need? A nightmare.

I don’t think subscriptions are a good fit for all apps. But since subscriptions are the only sustainable business model that the App Store offers, why make them so difficult to adopt? Even putting the substantial implementation work aside, it’s a big risk because Apple doesn’t let customers keep what they’ve already bought:

Previously: 2 Years of App Subscriptions 2.0, IAPKit.

Update (2018-09-13): Damien Petrilli:

The way Apple is trying to push subscription feels exactly like their design: dismissing user feedbacks.

Users are against it but whatever, they don’t know what they want.

Luc Vandal:

Really don’t know what to think about subscriptions. I find them more appealing as we see some developers having some success with them but still not convinced it’s the answer for all apps.


Unless your paid product has zero ads and couldn’t possibly work without an online backend (not for ever dynamic interface changes but literally to exchange content with other users or to pull/push content from my phone) - I do not want this.

Ryan Jones:

“Only iPhone.”

Most apps are free."


Compiling and Exporting iOS Review Chapters With Drafts

Federico Viticci (tweet):

At the same time, I also wanted to simplify my process so that I wouldn’t end up writing my review in an app and editing it in another. For the past few years, I’ve experimented with Scrivener and Ulysses for this, but neither of them is well suited for the unique mix of longform writing and heavy Markdown automation I’m looking for. Drafts 5 felt like the spiritual successor to Editorial that I could fully script and customize to my needs. So for the past three months, I’ve been writing and editing my upcoming iOS 12 review entirely in Drafts.


One function of the Draft object in Drafts 5 is the ability to retrieve an array of drafts by querying the app for items that match a specific search string, filter, or tag (or combination of all three). Essentially, this allows you to search Drafts 5 for items that match specific conditions; items can then be iterated upon in JavaScript for additional manipulation. My action involves querying Drafts 5 with a tag filter, which returns an array of drafts that can be read in a repeat loop and appended (one after the other) to a new variable, which then becomes the .md file to share with other apps.


Finally, because iOS doesn’t have a way to save data directly into another app’s container, saving the .md file to a GitHub repository in Working Copy is done via the share sheet.

Previously: Drafts 5.

Amazon Is Stuffing Its Search Results Pages With Ads

Rani Molla (via John Gruber):

Amazon-sponsored product ads have been around since 2012. But lately, as the company has invested in growing its advertising business, they’ve become more aggressive.

See, for example, our search below for “cereal.”

The first three results, which take up the whole screen above the fold — everything visible before you scroll — are sponsored placements that appear as search results: Ads for Kellogg’s Special K, Quaker Life and Cap’n Crunch. (It’s similarly dramatic on mobile, where it takes up the entire first screen.) This is followed by a section featuring Amazon’s own brand, 365 Everyday Value, which was part of its Whole Foods acquisition.


Nearly 8 percent of views on Amazon product pages came from sponsored links in May, more than double what it was a year earlier, according to data from analytics firm Jumpshot, which collects URL data from a panel of 100 million people.

Molla’s example doesn’t show any ads on Walmart’s site, but Walmart does indeed show sponsored products when you search. Instead of all appearing at the top, they are mixed in with the other results.

Previously: Early App Store Search Ads Fail.

The Way Out

Manton Reece:

We should be careful before copying everything from Twitter. I don’t want to take features that failed us and recreate them in a new environment. leaves out features on purpose that we think undermine a healthy community.


Proprietary APIs reinforce the lock-in with content silos. This is why so much of is based on IndieWeb standards. It’s why Mastodon uses APIs like ActivityPub.


Some problems are inevitable when power is concentrated in only 2-3 huge social networks — ad-based businesses at odds with user needs and an overwhelming curation challenge.

Previously: Mastodon, The Struggle for Twitter Alternatives, IndieWeb Generation 4 and Hosted Domains.