The Mac App Store is almost exactly 8 years old as I write this (it was first released to the public on January 6, 2011). When we first heard about the new store coming to our beloved Macs, we weren’t entirely surprised. It’s cousin The App Store (on iOS) had already been out for a couple of years. Nonetheless, we were excited that Apple was bringing this back to the Mac.

While the Mac App Store offers some great benefits like automatic updates, easy installations, and convenience when you buy a new Mac, it hasn’t come without its own frustrations. Top of the list for us was the lack of a free trial and a way to offer a discounted price to existing customers. Until recently, if you wanted to buy Banktivity on the Mac App Store, you had to pay full price even if it meant you could get upgrade pricing by buying from us.

This changed at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2018 when they announced that you could do free trials and get upgrade pricing on their App Stores. We were ecstatic when we heard this news! Finally, after years of having to try and explain why you couldn’t get upgrade pricing or try the app before buying, a solution now seemed within reach.

Seriously, our customers have been asking for upgrading pricing and free trials on the Mac App Store since our app was first available on the Mac App Store in 2011. And I can now say Banktivity does have a free trial and upgrade pricing on the Mac App Store. However, I want to explain why Apple’s solution leaves much to be desired. But before I dive-in on the big short-coming, let me explain how free trials and upgrade pricing now work on the App Store.

Free trials

To offer a free trial Apple tells you to make your app free. Then include some sort of crippling feature after the trial period expires. For Banktivity 7, we allow a customer to use the full-featured app for thirty days, then after that, the document becomes read-only. That is, you can view and browse your transactions, but you can’t add any more, or use Cloud Sync, etc. When a customer decides they like the program enough to buy it, they make an in-app purchase to “unlock” the time restriction imposed by the free trial (or if the free trial already lapsed, then we make their document writable again). Make note that it is an “in-app purchase” that takes the app out of trial-mode, as this will be important for explaining things later.

Upgrade pricing

To offer upgrade pricing, again Apple says make your app “free” and then use an in-app purchase to allow customers who can prove they deserve a discount to buy the app at the right price point. From the surface, this seems like a decent solution.

It all breaks with family sharing

The problem with both of these solutions has to do with family sharing. Technically our apps support “family sharing.” That is you can download the free trial across Apple IDs shared by the family, but the Family Share badge on our apps is misleading at best. The problem is, in-app purchases aren’t shared in Family Sharing. So if you, as family member one, download the free trial, then make an in-app purchase to unlock it, family member two can get the free trial, but it won’t be unlocked because the in-app purchase isn’t shared. This is something we cannot control; it is entirely in Apple’s hands.

We aren’t the only developer to come across this issue. OmniGroup a long time independent Mac developer describes this exact issue in this support article.

What makes the issue particularly painful, is that we can’t control the presence of the “Family Sharing” badge on our products’ App Store pages. So until Apple either removes the badge or preferably, allows sharing of in-app purchases through Family Sharing, our App Store presence leaves a little to be desired.

If you made an in-app purchase under the pretense that it would unlock the app for your family, let us know, we can give you a free code to use Banktivity as downloaded from us.

If you’d like in-app purchases shared with Family Sharing, you can let Apple know. I have.

Ian Gillespie
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Ian Gillespie

CEO/Founder at IGG Software, Inc.
A California native, Ian's academic background was in biology, botany and environmental studies. He comes to the field of technology purely out of personal passion, and has been writing Mac software for over a decade. He's also an avid birdwatcher, a soccer player, fiddler and an organic gardener. He lives in Oregon with his wife and their two sons.
Ian Gillespie
Follow IGG

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27 comments on “No good deed goes left unpunished

  • Sorry to hear you’re having this trouble – I have given up on the App store for Mac and always bought directly from you. Games I try and get from Steam and other applications from the publishers website.

    I’ve started to hedge my bets and am using cross-platform applications and services more and more so I could unwind from Apple in the future if their strange practices continue. Perhaps Banktivity could become cross-platform (as Quicken finally has). IMO it is far superior to Quicken on the desktop, although I do like their web-based offerings now which also work on mobile… hint hint 🙂

    • Web-based financial software? Your’e joking right? That will be the day I bail on Banktivity. Cloud based personal finance software is a Very Bad Idea for the end-user.

      As for the App Store stuff… I’m sure it will be sorted out in good time and it’s nice to see you have a solution for existing users until then.

      • I completely sympathise with your paranoia, but as I am sure you’re aware, there is already far more information about you in the cloud than there is on any personal device you own, most of which is vastly more secure than the information on any personal device you own. Unless you’re typing in every transaction manually and reconciling to a paper statement you have delivered by an armored truck in a leads box, your information is already out there.

        • It’s more about not being able to access *anything* without an internet connection. THAT is the problem. The privacy component can be handled (relatively) safely.

          I have a colleague with cloud- (aka web-) based practice management software. It never occurred to them what a nightmare it is if the internet breaks…

        • Quote:
          “but as I am sure you’re aware, there is already far more information about you in the cloud than there is on any personal device you own, most of which is vastly more secure than the information on any personal device you own.”

          Sorry, in my case it’s exactly the opposite and I plan on keeping it that way!

  • I see many bigger feature priorities to enhance Banktivity over a web interface (as delivered by Intuit). If I am not in front of the Mac I will use the iPhone app to get what I need (and that happens often). For my needs the desktop app is King, mobility is great thru iPhone (gave up on iPad as a platform in general).

    If the software matters to you buy direct and keep a repository of your keys, the Appstore is a good vehicle to license products you use casually.

  • Since I’m the only user in my family of Banktivity, the family sharing issue is not a show-stopper for me. I think I’ve been a user since iBank 3.

    Will the in-app upgrade pricing solution work if I’m upgrading from a copy purchased directly from IGG? I believe that part wasn’t working before. If that is working now, I would switch back to the MacAppStore.

  • Seeing yesterday’s news, I wonder how many time Apple has had to negotiate with iggsoft. And this time it seems they are stepping right on top of your business model. Will you be able to access their Apple Card info to include in Banktivity? It may have been cool, but Goldman Sachs put a damper on that. Tim Cook needs to get out a bit more.

  • I was wondering if you could consider adding :-

    1. a transaction register filter on – Attachments

    2. a register listing of ALL transactions (as it used to work on Smart Accounts) or revisit the Smart Accounts function. I believe there is value in finding spending chronologically (as most email clients do these days) (EG TODAY, THIS MONTH , Rest)

  • Ian, I too sympathize with your concerns about the App Store. But, it does not affect me since I purchased Banktivity a long time ago (desktop, iPhone & iPad). I encourage you to focus on making your apps the BEST they can be… and continue to improve them over time. Ultimately, people like me, who want a robust, well integrated personal financial software will gravitate to the best product out there.

    The mobile versions you offer could be better. For example, it would help if they offered a way to manage account reconciliation. The desktop version handles it very well. The mobile versions don’t even include the check marks the indicate reconciliation status much less a simple way to do it.

  • I was considering emailing iggsoftware but will let this suffice as they do appear to read these threads.

    I would make a case for having some sort of cross-platform capability for Banktivity. This might not have to be a feature-rich web interface, at least to start. Maybe it begins with a register, a means of entering transactions m, and a few reports.

    I do think there’s a significant market for such. If this is an app to manage family finances, then it would seem reasonable that families access it. Maybe a wife who has a Chromebook, or a dad at work on a PC. Either of them could do some basic entry and observing of the accounts with a web interface.

    Currently, the Banktivity website compares Banktivity 7 to Quicken 2017. Well, Quicken 2019 is out now and, while I could be mistaken, I understand it be moving significantly closer to the feature set of Banktivity, plus a PC and web side.

    As for concerns about security. It’s conceivable that a web interface would have no impact on a Banktivity user who chose not to connect their Banktivity file to the web. Their information would, as entered by them, never touch the web.

    For my part, I’ll be taking a hard look at Quicken 2019 and other programs that aren’t entirely locked in to Mac so that other members of our family, who don’t have access to a Mac, can help manage our finances.

    • I agree with this post. IMO, Banktivity is by far the most feature rich finance application outside of Quicken on PC (the Mac version of Quicken still lacks some really basic features, such as including transfers in your budget or seeing gross payments to loan accounts etc.) What I will say about the new Quicken as a company is that they’re really transparent about their development, and the community engagement is pretty strong. The same is true of some others, like YNAB. I’ve always loved Banktivity on the Mac, ever since iBank 2! I’ve just always felt like it’s a project that could close down at any time, which is why for 13 years I’ve run Quicken on a VM “just in case” Ian decides to do something else, or Apple keeps making Macs that overheat or break.

      • I left Quicken and moved to Banktivity many, many years ago when Quicken abandoned the Mac Users and their Windows Application became a bloated mess. I have no intention of going back because of this.

        I’ve been using Banktivity when it was iBank way back at version 2 when it was very basic. It’s a wonderful application now and I really, really hope it has a solid future.

        I’d like to see the iPad version of Banktivity more closely resemble the Mac version – and perhaps even surpass it – with the iPhone version being the ‘trim’ copy of Banktivity. With the way I use my iPad Pro these days that would be great. There are only two applications I use my MacBook for that I can’t use my iPad: Banktivity and Xcode. At the moment the iPad app is restrictive and just feels like a bigger iPhone App when it has the potential to be better than the Mac version.

        I see no value in diluting the product by catering to different platforms (other than a web-access for opt-in users). Stick with Apple, IGG, and move with their platforms evolving architecture.

        I suspect this will be a disruptive 12 months with where iPad/Mac development is going with Catalyst but I think the future looks very bright.

        PS: It’s all been a bit quiet here so I only hope that means there is a new version around the corner…. 😉

        • I agree with that mostly – it would be nice to hear something from IGG about their intention. My subscription expired today and I’m not sure about renewing it, it just feels like they’re winding down.

          I also first started out on iBank version 2 just a few weeks before version 3 with auto downloads came out, back in 2006. It’s evolved a lot since then – I really wish when you typed in the category it would search the entire field, not just “starts with”.

      • I have no intention of doing anything else 🙂 We’ve been building Mac software for well over 15 years now and I hope we can for another 15 years or more!

  • I agree with the comment on cross platform software. I am transitioning away from Mac and Windows. I disagree with the recent moves made by Apple with respect to their security chips on their hardware. I am against Microsofts move toward monthly software charges. That leaves me heading toward Linux. I have found Moneydance which is cross platform for Windows, Linux, and Mac plus IOS and Android. Banktivity will need to cover all their bases in the future.

    • Cross platform development means lots of compromises – to security, features, design & interoperability with the rest of the operating system among many, many other things – and it’s a really PITA to manage for a software development team, causing long delays between releases.

      IGG, stick with Apple and their ecosystem. Let others be ‘good’ at cross platform experiences (which are all pretty average frankly…). Don’t let the tail wag the dog.

      An alternative would be to have a web browser front end (as an option) for those who want to use their data with the Cloud & cross platform – much like Apple does with several apps on http://www.icloud.com – I prefer offline apps with local caching, using the cloud for syncing between devices – just like you’ve designed it – but having an accessible web browser ‘app’ would be interesting, provided it was secure, either using Apple’s security or your own 2FA.

  • Went over to Banktivity years and years ago also due to Quicken abandoning Windows. Best moves I ever made, going Mac, going Banktivity. Hopefully Banktivity will never abandon me and I plan to never abandon it. Could not live without either at this point!

    Thank you for a great and also reasonably priced program!

  • Ian, I really like Banktivity including the new version 7 but there is one thing I’ve requested several times to no avail. I’m older and I need the ability to select a larger font. I make mistakes because I can’t see the numbers clearly. Can you prioritize this feature? It can’t be that hard to do….

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