Much has been made about the lack of professional software for the iPad Pro so far. This is a problem that doesn’t look to go away anytime soon, and many smaller software developers are planting the blame for the predicament squarely in Cupertino’s lap.
There is no way, currently, to offer free time-limited trials of software on the App Store. As has been consistently seen with apps like OmniFocus, there is also no mechanism for offering paid upgrades as opposed to buying the software all over again. This stumbling block is preventing many developers from porting their software to iOS. The problem, developers say, is with these policies governing the App Store and how those stipulations prevent them from being assured of making money on mobile software, according to a recent article on The Verge.
An excellent example is the app Sketch, software that helps professional graphic designers develop outstanding artwork. Sketch has received rave reviews for its Mac version, but the developers have been quite vocal about their lack of plans for a port of the app to the iPad Pro. Emanuel Sa, one of the developers behind Sketch, left a note on Designer News explaining why the app won’t come to the iPad Pro.
Apps on iOS sell for unsustainably low prices due to the lack of trials. We cannot port Sketch to the iPad if we have no reasonable expectation of earning back on our investment. Maintaining an application on two different platforms and provide one of them for a 10th of it’s value won’t work, and iPad volumes are low enough to disqualify the “make it up in volume” argument.
Sa acknowledges that the iPad Pro has “a beautiful screen,” but also points out that considering how to adapt the user interface for touch without compromising the experience is a major issue that makes porting the app a sizeable investment.
I’ve long thought that the lack of free trials on the App Store was a potential stumbling block for professional-grade software on the iPad and iPad Pro. While some developers work around this by offering free light versions of their apps, that’s clearly not a solution that every app can benefit from. We can only hope that Apple hears the complaints from developers who would potentially add quite a bit of value to the App Store, and opts to change the policies to allow for free trials and discounted upgrades for long-term users.