After releasing the universal Mac app, we have received a lot of feedback from users who bought the Legacy Version app and who are, unfortunately, no longer eligible for a refund from Apple. We totally understand your frustration as it is never a good feeling to pay for something that you could have gotten for a cheaper price a while later. That, in fact, happens with any product that goes on sale or has become free as part of special promotions.
That's why we're genuinely grateful for your early adoption. Your continued support has kept us making GoodNotes better and better each day for you.
In the interest of transparency, we'd like to share some information that hopefully helps you to understand our decisions a bit better. Here's a timeline of the most important events over the past months of developing GoodNotes for Mac:
Late 2018 / Early 2019
We started developing a native macOS version of GoodNotes 5 and released it for early access. It was not possible to combine iOS/iPadOS and macOS apps as a universal purchase or even offer a bundle price.
The native macOS version was almost ready for a public launch when Apple announced "Project Catalyst" during their annual World Wide Developers Conference. We decided to use this framework for the Mac version instead of spending more time on the native one and wanted to launch it together with the release of macOS Catalina. By that time it still wasn't possible to offer macOS and iOS/iPadOS as a universal purchase or as a bundle - nor were there any rumors that this would be an option anytime soon.
We launched GoodNotes 5 for Mac on the Mac App Store as a paid app.
Apple surprisingly announced that it would expand the universal purchase to include macOS apps, and this option would be available for developers in late March. New Catalyst apps would have this option enabled by default but developers still have the option to continue selling their macOS app as a separate purchase from the iOS and iPadOS apps. Even though Catalyst allows developers to unify some of the development efforts for both platforms, there is still significant work and efforts required to get it right. Especially for indie developers or smaller companies, selling apps on different platforms is an important revenue stream. After doing some calculations and internal discussions, we decided it would be the right thing to do for GoodNotes.
We started looking into the options we had to potentially offer a universal purchase across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, as it became clear that existing macOS apps couldn't be integrated into the universal purchase. We knew if we wanted to achieve this, we would essentially have to "kill" our existing Mac app ("Legacy Version") and upload a new app that would be part of the existing App Store record for iOS and iPadOS.
By that time it was not possible to try it out because we had to wait for the latest version of Xcode to be released in order to upload a new app. We also initiated conversations with some other parties whose SDKs and APIs we're using and discussed if it would be technically possible to offer GoodNotes as a universal purchase across all three platforms.
End of March 2020
The new version of Xcode was released - allowing us to start testing if our plans could even work. We started facing some technical issues that prevented us from uploading a macOS app to the iOS/iPadOS App Store Record.
The option to offer app bundles or universal purchases including macOS apps became available.
We launched the universal version of GoodNotes 5 on Mac on April 14th - one day after the Easter break.
On Thursday the week before, we had received final confirmation that all technical issues we were facing could be successfully removed and that there were no problems with any licenses of other parties. It was only at this point that we knew our plans to offer a universal version would in fact work out as intended.
By sharing these obstacles, we hope you will understand the universal app represents our best efforts to support you in these challenging times.