I love writing anything and everything, and since I get tons of ideas when I only have my phone with me, I need an excellent writing app on my phone. For more than 6 years, I've used JotterPad, Android's best writing app, to do so. I've sung the app's praises in 2014, was still enamored with it in 2018, and still can't find a decent replacement to it in 2020. So yes, this article is personal, and I'm fuming because JotterPad switched to a subscription model for cloud sync without a single warning or any clear communication to its existing users who paid for a one-time unlock.

What has always made JotterPad special is the mother lode of features aimed specifically at writers: custom fonts and display styles, white and dark themes (before dark modes were even fashionable), Markdown support, view-only and edit modes, text statistics, snapshot history to go back to a previous version of your documents, and most importantly, a built-in dictionary, thesaurus, and even rhyme dictionary. Having all these tools inside one writing app is a luxury, and even if some of these required a single $5.99 "Creative" unlock, it was more than worth it.

Up until recently, that one-time fee also offered one feature that JotterPad had been known for since its debut: syncing with the cloud. You got a single account sync, which you could use to connect JotterPad to Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. If you wanted to sync with several accounts, you had to get the cloud upgrade, which launched at $0.99/month but now costs $29.99/year — expensive, but justifiable for die-hard users.

Left & Middle: Creative pack unlocked. Right: If I try to add a cloud account, I need to subscribe.

The issue everyone who bought the $5.99 IAP is facing now is that JotterPad changed its model without alerting existing users. It removed the single-account cloud sync perk from the Creative pack and now requires the $29.99 Pro Cloud subscription to sync one or many accounts. No pop-up in the app, no warning upon uninstalling or reinstalling it, no email sent to buyers, no post on the company's blog, nothing. Zero communication.

A small sample of displeased users.

Understandably, users are furious. Many are only discovering this like I did, when switching to a new phone, installing the app, and noticing they can't add a cloud sync service without purchasing the Pro Cloud subscription. Anyone who complains is being served the same non-answer, which essentially boils down to: we worked hard on the app, we now require a subscription, it's OK if you don't like it.

The two positive things in this situation are that those who still have the app installed can keep syncing (but how long that lasts is anyone's guess, and they're probably still unsuspecting of the change), and that JotterPad provided several years of support and value to its users before making this questionable move.

This isn't the first time a developer has needed to switch to a subscription model to keep the lights on and stay profitable — it's actually becoming a frequent and understandable move — but while some have taken the step gracefully, JotterPad's approach feels like a bait-and-switch. Better communication and clarity, plus a way to make it up to those who already paid for the Creative pack (say 3 or 6 or 12 months free when re-installing the app) would've gone a long way in making sure anyone who loves the app doesn't feel cheated out of their purchase.

In my case, Dropbox syncing is essential to the way I write. I spent several days trying to find a half-decent Android writing app to replace JotterPad, but nothing comes close. So I'm sticking with it, but I can't justify paying a dev who doesn't care enough about its supporters to inform them of an upcoming loss of functionality. I've been using MetaCtrl's Dropsync to sync my local JotterPad folder with Dropbox. Similar solutions for Google Drive and OneDrive are offered too. If you're an existing JotterPad user with the Creative pack unlock, do what you think is right.

Workaround: I'm using Dropsync to sync JotterPad's local folder with Dropbox.

Autosync for Dropbox - Dropsync
Autosync for Dropbox - Dropsync
Developer: MetaCtrl
Price: Free+
  • Thanks:
  • Antony Williams