Every so often, we are asked why we have adverts in MyShiftPlanner. We’ve even been asked why we ask payment for extra features in the app, such as Calendar Sync, extra icons, work/time tracking etc.
And occasionally, we get people who review the app online and say, it’s great. But why can’t it just be free??
In an ideal world, everything would be free. And there are some fab free (ish) apps out there.
But, whenever we see an app that appears to be completely free. There are a few questions that always cross our minds.
If it’s free, how is the app managing to stay up to date? Who is doing the work on it? How is it really making money and what hidden costs are there? Is it selling my information to an unscrupulous organisation? And, how on earth are they managing to support the apps users?
We thought we’d clear up a few issues around paying for apps. To explain why we have adverts in the free version of MyShiftPlanner, why we charge for extra features, and what the those in-app purchases actually pay for.
Is MyShiftPlanner a free app?
Since we first built MyShiftPlanner 6 years ago, the basic version of the app has been free to download.
That has always been the case and we’d always hope to continue that.
But, the free version does have an advertising banner. This small banner at the bottom of the screen delivers adverts to users of the app.
You can remove the ad banner, and unlock the extra features, in the Pro-version. But we ask for payment to do that.
Why have ads in the app?
The advertising banner essentially pays for the basic version of the app. If we got rid of the adverts, we’d have to charge for the basic version – something we’ve historically wanted to avoid.
The ad banner and the Pro-Pack provide us with income to support the app. If we didn’t get that income, we wouldn’t be able to keep the MyShiftPlanner on the App Store and Play Store. Let alone update it, add more features, or support our 285,000 daily active users .
Put simply, the payments we get from the app, keep our small company going, and that keeps the app going.
Do Apple/Google Pay Us?
We’ve often been asked if Apple and Google Play pay us to provide apps for their platform.
If only they did!!!
All the work we’ve done, from building the app to updating and supporting it, is paid for by us. If you create an app, it’s free to upload it to the Play Store or App Store for people to download and use. But, both platforms take a percentage of any revenue the app makes.
Do We Sell Your Data to Anyone?
We can answer that in three simple ways.
No way …
Keeping The App Up-to-Date
Ever wondered why some apps disappear off the app stores? It’s usually because they are no longer supported.
Android and Apple update the operating systems quite often. Usually once a year for a major update and then regular (point) updates through the year.
Whenever they issue an update, there are always older apps that can no longer work on the platform.
We don’t want our users to lose their shift calendars. So, we strive to keep the app up-to-date. Although we do get first look at new versions of the operating system, we have to run full tests of the app to avoid any issues and to make sure the app can keep working.
Recently, we ran into a problem with iOS 13 (Apple’s new update). The new operating system that Apple were encouraging their users to update to had quite a few bugs in it.
One of them crashed MyShiftPlanner. Although it technically wasn’t our fault, we had to fix it, quick! So that users could keep using the app and seeing their shift patterns.
Simply keeping the app updated so that it can continue to run on both Apple and Android platforms takes time and resources. And that’s without adding new features that users want.
More Features … Please?
In the past 12 months, thanks to the revenue from ads and in-app purchases, we’ve been able to respond to requests from our users, who want additional features in the app. We get requests almost every every day for new features, or changes to existing ones.
Every time we’ve added a new feature, it’s been because a number of users have asked for it. That’s always been our policy. The more people ask for something, the higher up on our roadmap of developments it goes.
So, in the last year, we’ve added: –
- Calendar Syn
- Extra Shift Types
- Monthly Pay Schedules
- Easier Customisation tools
- User Profile settings updates
- Home screen widgets for Android
- Today widgets for iOS
- Touch/face ID secure access
- Better emoji support for Android and iOS
- Expanded options for international users
- New pattern set up screens
- Customisation of shifts and the ability to duplicate shift types
- Updated view options across the app
- More annual leave allowance settings, including time-in-lieu, carry forward and an easier menu screen.
- Multiple shifts on a day
- More icons
We’ve also added fixes for problems we found over the year. Including, time zone issues, bugs, crashes, and various issues with older phones etc.
Development doesn’t stop
And we have more plans as well! The developers are currently building a brand new version of the app. That involves designing and preparing a new user interface, stripping out old code and rewriting new code into the app, and then all the subsequent testing. This new and complete rewrite of the code base of MyShiftPlanner is in a brand new and exciting language (Flutter). Which will give us tons more feature development options. As well as allowing the app to run faster and smoother on new and old devices alike.
All of this requires specialist development work. Every change or addition we make requires designing, planning, coding, and testing.
There are over a million lines of code in the MyShiftPlanner app. One change anywhere can have effects throughout the app. So, before we can release any new feature, we have to test it in the app to make sure it won’t cause a problem along the way.
It all takes time and money to implement.
Even if we didn’t make any changes, we have plenty of work to do around supporting the app. We have over 285,000 daily active users. And we get around 1000 new downloads every day.
Supporting our users is a full-time job. Most of the time, support requests revolve around helping people set up their app. Especially if they have a complex shift pattern, or have very specific requirements.
But, sometimes, we have to deal with people losing their data, losing their phones, or a huge range of other issues related to a phone’s set up.
Every so often, there is a problem that affects a lot of users and we have to pull out all the stops to get things working again.
But even if it’s just telling someone how to change the colour of their shifts, we make support a priority! So that we can deliver a great service alongside our great product.
Doing nothing still costs …
It might seem as though the internet is a glorious land of all things free! But, sadly, it isn’t.
Data storage on the net certainly isn’t free. Every byte of data we want to store for ourselves and for our users is charged to us. Every single user who signs in to the app gets a backup of their data stored in a secure Microsoft cloud facility.
These facilities don’t come cheap. Microsoft charge us for the amount of data we store. The more users we have, the more data we need to store, the more we are charged.
Simply keeping the app running, and keeping our users data safe, costs us quite a considerable amount.
Finally. We want to develop more apps for shift workers and shift managers. Our new product, MyShiftTeam is currently being built by our development team.
MyShiftTeam links scheduling ability and team views to the existing power of MyShiftPlanner. Shift managers can schedule shifts for their team, make changes and monitor requests. Shift workers can receive their rota directly to their MyShiftPlanner app, request holidays and track their work and overtime.
Building a new product requires funding. Many companies get investors for this. We’re doing it ourselves!
We would love to do it all for free. But we have to live as well. Which is why we have ads and purchases in MyShiftPlanner.
If you have any questions about the app, or want any more information on how apps work, just get in touch with our friendly team via email@example.com