Airmail for iOS is now free to download on the App Store, but push notifications and multi-account support have become premium features priced at $2.99 per month or $9.99 per year in the United States. The app was previously available for a one-time, upfront cost of $4.99 with all features unlocked.
In response to this story, Airmail informed MacRumors that users who purchased the app still have access to multiple accounts but not push notifications, which it describes "a side service of the app." Those who purchased the app within the last four months will also have up to a four-month grace period.
Unsurprisingly, many Airmail users have voiced their displeasure about this on Twitter and Reddit after already paying $4.99, especially since developer Bloop apparently failed to provide users with any advanced notice about the change.
Push notifications now require a subscription. — Airmail (@airmailer) July 15, 2019
.@airmailer #airmail if it bothers you that email client you paid for wants you to pay subscription for *existing* features, try @SparkMailApp . Just tried it out and it feels great! And for the record, I would drop money for new features but not for that. You lost me. — Vito Meznaric (@meznaricnet) July 15, 2019
And so came an end to using #Airmail. In my opinion it is bad practice to suddenly remove a feature and make it paid one (on an paid app). Especially when the feature itself didnt really work well from the beginning. IAP and subscriptions should be used for new func not existing. pic.twitter.com/UbGKaoAp8c — Paul Peelen (@ppeelen) July 15, 2019
@airmailer Airmail now requires a subscription without any prior notification and from an app I’ve already paid for? What are you thinking? Bye bye Airmail! #airmail — Marcel (@uit_drenthe) July 15, 2019
At face value, the change appears to violate Apple's App Store Review Guidelines, which state "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." We've reached out to Airmail and Apple for comment.
Airmail for iOS won an Apple Design Award at WWDC 2017. The app has a straightforward, minimalistic design with a single unified "All Inboxes" view for quick email management. If you swipe from the left, more options emerge, including access to folders for to-do lists, snoozed emails, and attachments.
Bloop also recently raised the price of Airmail for Mac from $9.99 to $26.99.
Update: In a statement provided to MacRumors, Airmail developer Leonardo Chiantini said the change was made due to "increasing backend service expenses" and argued that making push notifications a subscriber-only feature does not affect the app's core functionality.
Chiantini added that existing users will continue to have access to multiple email accounts. His full response follows:
Airmail for iOS is now free and new users can use the app with a single account and no push notifications.
Customers who purchased the app can still have access to multiple accounts but not push notifications which, is a side service of the app and is not preventing the use of the app's core functionality.
We do understand users frustration, the decision was made to keep the business sustainable as we face increasing backend service expenses.
Customers who purchased the app in the last 4 months will be granted a grace period of premium subscription up to 4 months (depending on the purchase date).
Update 2: Airmail also says it is not using system push notifications of CloudKit or other operating system features, but its own server infrastructure.