November 30, 2021

Popular Note-Taking App Notability Moves to a Subscription Model Causing Controversy


With the update to version 11.0, Notability is now a free app. To unlock all of the features, you’ll need a subscription.

The biggest addition in the update is Notability Gallery. Available through the app and on the web, users can share their creativity and browse notes from other users. It’s easy to share notes on any topics.

Other additions include a new template menu and an upgraded page manager for better control over notes.

The change of pricing model has garnered a substantial amount of controversy online.

Previously, Notability was $8.99 and users could take advantage of all the features of the app.

But now, the free version only offers limited note edits, basic paper templates, and three favorite tools. To unlock other great tools like iCloud sync and handwriting recognition, you’ll need a subscription, which is currently $11.99 yearly. A 14-day free trial is available.

In a blog post, Notability explained what will happen for anyone who previously purchased the app:

Thank you for your support all these years. You will be able to continue using Notability as you do now for the next year for free. You will continue to have access to any items or technology you previously purchased. If you would like access to more premium content or technology like MyScript’s Handwriting Recognition and Math Conversion, you may choose to subscribe at any point. After the year is up, you can choose to become an annual subscriber or use the free version of Notability.

Many users are pointing toward App Store guidelines that Notability may be violating:

If you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for.

Many popular paid apps have been making the move to a subscription model to improve their revenue and provide more frequent updates. But Notability’s choice to only give previous purchasers a year of free service is out of the ordinary.

In early 2020, the photo editing app Darkroom made the move to a subscription model. Anyone who made a purchase before the change still received access to all of the premium features. Only new users needed to subscribe.

And CARROT Weather made a similar change from paid app to freemium earlier this year. Previous buyers were allowed to keep all of the features from the original paid app forever.

If you’re looking for an Notability alternative, both Noteshelf and GoodNotes 5 are great options. Noteshelf is $9.99 while GoodNotes 5 is $7.99.



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