Last week, the developers of the Ulysses writing app decided to switch to a subscription plan. Reviewers in Apple’s App Store are freaking out and leaving 1-Star reviews. I looked into this briefly and found that, as usual, people like to meltdown before checking into a matter.
I have been a Ulysses user for the iPad for about nine months. It’s not a terrible app, but it certainly isn’t what I had hoped for. I purchased it when it was on sale ($20) and initially loved it. There was a learning curve since the app is based on Markdown and I had no clue what that was. I didn’t care at the time–I was working on finishing my first book and trying to get it published, and Ulysses offered an export in various formats such as DOCX, PDF, and EPUB.
As a note, if you are trying to publish on Amazon, the MOBI file type and EPUB are not the same. You will need to upload your book to Amazon as a DOCX and if you’re using Ulysses’ export feature, don’t rely on Ulysses to fix any errors as they appear in the Amazon previewer. I bought Ulysses to avoid using MS Word and ended up having to use it anyway on my wife’s laptop.
The price for Ulysses will be $40 a year for new users with a 50% discount per year to existing users (I know, that’s what I thought). The app doesn’t sync quickly and you have to just wait for it to sync between devices. There’s no sync or save button to make it work faster. And sometimes I have to wait overnight to get my work to upload from iPhone to iPad. That, to me, is not worth spending $20 on even once.
I was considering the Scrivener app, but too many people in the reviews said that there were difficulties syncing to DropBox. While I have DropBox, I don’t prefer using it. It’s just as difficult to use in Ulysses, so I don’t want any headaches having to rely on that as Scrivener’s only means of back up for iPad-only users.
For a couple of years now I’ve griped about Microsoft’s subscription plan for Word (it was $36/year for up to 3 devices on the personal plan–now it looks like you might be able to download it for $109 flat), but now it looks like it’s the cheaper (and better) option compared to Ulysses. So that’s where I’m at. I guess Robert Butler was right when he told me that Word was still the industry standard for publishing.
Whether Ulysses comes up with some better functionality and features is yet to be seen. But I for one will pass on their new subscription plan based on what I’ve experienced in just a little under one year. Hopefully iOS updates and compatibility issues don’t mess it up more.