Many Apple bloggers are big fans of Smile's TextExpander app, both on Mac and iOS. After all, it lets us create keyboard shortcuts that can turn a snippet like "sttp" into "Subscribe to the Podcast," thus saving a lot of keystrokes and time. Yesterday, Smile not only announced TextExpander 6 for Mac and TextExpander 4 for iOS, but a new Windows beta version, a cloud syncing service, and a new subscription pricing plan. While I'm quite happy to hear about the new versions, I'm sure the subscription pricing plan is going to make some users very unhappy.
Smile has priced the TextExpander "Life Hacker" plan for single users at $4.95 per month, and if you're already a user of the apps, you get a 50% loyalty discount for the first year (note, I didn't find the signup page for loyal customers until it was pointed out to me). For organizations -- and this is a new feature -- the price is $9.95 per month per user. Organizations that use a lot of text, like legal firms, may find that $10 monthly charge to be a bargain when considering the time that TextExpander can save.
That monthly charge basically ensures that you'll always have the latest version of the software on every device you own. In the past, I know that I was frustrated when the different versions of TextExpander seemed to have completely different update paths and costs, and I felt like I was always buying a new update.
Is TextExpander worth $4.95 a month (or $3.96 per month when one year is purchased)? Personally, I think so, but I'm not sure that it's going to sit well with a lot of other users -- especially when most of us shelled out $20 less than a year ago for another upgrade.
Both the Mac and iOS apps can be downloaded for free for a 30 day trial, after which you can decide if the monthly cost is worth it to you. For me, all I needed to do was create a new "textexpander.com" account, sign up for an annual Life Hacker account, and then sign in on my devices. Boom. Done.
I have to admit that the cost of the update was almost worthwhile just for one thing -- it finally got rid of the old, ugly and outdated TextExpander "balloon" icon. The company has created a new and futuristic-looking app icon that's a pleasure to see.
For those who don't think it's worth their while to "subscribe" to TextExpander, there is an alternative -- Ettore Software's excellent TypeIt4Me, which has actually been around much longer than TextExpander. It's $19.99 for a single user, and the company has even provided instructions on how to import TextExpander snippets into TypeIt4Me.
Another Update: Want to see why a lot of people are unhappy? Michael Tsai rounded up a lot of comments.