YNAB Mobile Apps are Now Free

Before I get to the announcement, I wanted to let everyone know that  the Android app now has Geosmart Payees, which gives it full feature parity with the iPhone! Android users will love that feature.

Starting today, we’re making our mobile apps free for both iPhone and Android. If you’ve been on the fence about whether $5 is worth it, I guess now that question should be answered :) Download the iPhone or Android app (on Google Play only for now; we are still waiting on Amazon approval).

We’ve had a lot of internal discussion about this, and I even posted a question about it on Facebook to see what you guys thought.  The reaction was mixed.  Some said they were happy to pay for it, and were worried that development would slow down if we didn’t charge for it.

Others said that they thought the app should be combined, and they felt a bit nickel and dimed by the second purchase.

A few even said that they didn’t have a smartphone, and wouldn’t want to subsidize development of the mobile apps with their desktop purchase.

Over the last while, we’ve increasingly felt that it wasn’t making much sense to charge for the mobile apps, since the desktop is required for them to have any functionality.

Friction during the trial of YNAB

A potential new user comes to YNAB (likely referred by a friend), sees what we have to offer, and jumps into the trial.  But a big part of what’s making a lot of YNABers successful these days is cloud sync. Users can sync with their spouse’s data, enter transactions on the go, and feel more in control of their money.

But these trial YNABers were in a bit of a pickle.  Do they purchase the iPhone or Android app so they can test cloud sync? (iPhone had the Lite version, but did the trialer know what the difference was based on their experience? Android didn’t even have a Lite version, so the problem was compounded).

On top of not being able to give the full YNAB experience a fair shake, we were also adding one more thing to think about when it came to answering the question of whether or not YNAB–as a package–was worth it.

Advantages to making the mobile apps free

So, we’re making them free.  This has three advantages, the last one being small, but still nice:

1) Those of you worried about development slowing on the mobile side because we’re making them free, don’t worry about it.  We’re fairly confident that the improved experience for trialers of YNAB will improve conversion rates, and that those improved conversion rates will translate into more revenue than was earned when we were charging for the mobile apps.  (Mobile app revenue, as a percentage of total YNAB revenue, is very very small, so this idea is not at all a stretch.)

2) Those of you on the fence about the $5 app being worth it won’t have to ask yourselves that question anymore.  You’ll just have to think about the one-time purchase, and go from there.  The cognitive load for potential purchasers will drop, and we think that will help them come to the right decision. (The right decision, in this case, is to buy ;))

3) We won’t have to send refund checks of $4.99 to people that accidentally purchase the mobile app, not realizing that the desktop app was required!  That doesn’t happen a lot, since we use a very big screenshot to warn people, but it still happens, and it won’t anymore :)  Yeah for less overhead!

To those few that mentioned not wanting to subsidize mobile development with their desktop purchase, I’ll just have to come clean and let you know that you already have.  The mobile app revenue has never made enough to cover their own development costs.

What about those that just purchased?

There will always be some people that just purchased.  We’ve had our builds ready to go free for quite some time, and basically have just been waiting on for the various store approvals (still waiting on Amazon).  So we haven’t given a second thought to which day, or time of week or month would be ideal to make this switch.

The fact of the matter is that there is no ideal time, and we have to make a cutoff somewhere.

Hopefully those that just purchased understand that the change means no offense, and that if you felt the app was worth the $5 purchase before we made this announcement, that doesn’t suddenly change how much you feel the app was worth :)

Conclusion: We’re excited

In the end, we’re excited to make this change.  We think it will help a lot more people appreciate exactly what YNAB has to offer, will lead to increased sales, and will help us further development to make YNAB–the whole system–even better.

57 Responses to “YNAB Mobile Apps are Now Free”

  1. sygyzy (@sygyzy)

    From someone who literally just bought YNAB and started using it yesterday, this could not have come at a better time. I pay for plenty of mobile apps and products but I did felt the $5 price was high, considering I had just paid for the desktop software. Thank you so much, you have a big fan here.

  2. Nandagopal

    Thank you so much! I bought the desktop version last week and had been using the Lite version with YNAB trial, but now I can have the full version on both my iPhone and nexus! You guys rock!!

    • Mike

      This is a tough one… the juice has to be worth the squeeze and it takes a lot of time to develop an app with the feature set of YNAB. These are the risks you take when you jump to Windows Phone, but that ecosystem will get built up in time.

      It’s the same reason why all the great PC games were made for Windows for so long, and not Mac — everybody used Windows, nobody used Mac. Now that Mac has gained a little in popularity (only a little, but enough) you’re seeing games for it.

  3. chris

    awesome news! i concur with the previous post; i just purchased YNAB on Sunday and got the Cloud Sync setup with YNAB Lite. Felt $4.99 was a bit high for the extra functionality which i really didn’t “need”.

    Going to a free full version on the mobile side is just another feather in the cap for reasons to be buy the YNAB 4 desktop version vs another company’s software.

    keep up the great work!

  4. Patrick

    As an iOS user, it was worth the price and I have no regrets.

  5. Roger

    I totally agree. This is a great decision but I am fine with having purchased a long time ago. YNAB had been tremendous! I’ll put a shout out on twitter too! :)

  6. k3davis

    I purchased two copies of the app, for my phone and my wife’s, and it’s been so useful as to seem essential. I’m really glad for this news though as it makes the product easier to recommend to friends and family.

  7. Eliot

    Nice move! I already bought the iPhone app months ago, with no regrets. This will help me spread the good word about YNAB to my friends. I think it’s the right decision!

  8. Jim

    I just purchased the iPhone app last night! and paid $4.99…. :/

    • Joel Fannin

      Jim, I’d like to think your expression was more like your avatar pic. ha ha!

      “What?!! I just paid $4.99 for it?!”

      I think Jesse’s right though. There was no good cutoff time. I paid $4.99 for it too several months ago but with the reasons he gives, it makes sense in the long run. There’s just no good way to reverse the purchases people had made on it.

      • Steve

        I’m betting Jim thinks the day before would have been a better cutoff time. ;-)

  9. Jeff

    Glad to learn about it. Just posted it as news on my blog for mobile writers.

  10. Christoph Wagner

    Awesome :)

    In my few 4 months or so of using Ynab I only thought once or twice that it’d be cool to have the mobile app now. $5 was too expensive for the small expected use I was expecting. So this being free is perfect!

    Thank you!

  11. Adam Holte

    If I currently use the Lite iPhone app, will it be updated automatically to the full version, or will I have to delete the lite version and install the full version?

    • jesse

      You’ll need to install the full version (and then you can delete the Lite version). We’ll be updating the Lite version only to serve a notice that the full version is now free :)

      • Andreas

        I guess every update breaks someone’s workflow… ;)

        My wife and I each have a separate “personal” budget and a “shared” budget. Because switching budgets on the iPhone takes too much time on the iPhone app(s), we each have both the lite and full YNAB app installed on our iPhones, one set to the “personal” budget, and one set to the “shared” budget.

        That way, when on the go and quickly wanting to enter a transaction, we have a quick way of choosing the budget it goes into by simply choosing the lite vs full YNAB app from the iPhone springboard.

        I guess I’ll revert to the previous lite version to get rid of the notification.

        Are there any plans to make it quicker to choose which budget to enter a transaction into? Right now, when only using one YNAB app, I would have to switch the whole app over to the “other” (shared/personal) budget before entering the transaction, needing a lot of tabs and some loading time.

        Any plans? :-)


      • Andreas

        Erratum: We of course don’t each have a “shared” budget, we only have one “shared” budget between the two of us.

      • Pepa

        I completely agree with Andreas. My husband and I have 4 budgets and the switch from one budget to the next is soooooo painful.

        I used to use an iPhone app called Spending (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spending/id319033070?mt=8 I include the link so that you can see) where I have several “accounts” (like budgets).

        If you check it out, you’ll see how easy it is to switch from one account to another and when it exports to pc, it’ll ask if I want to send any given account or all accounts. It’s that easy.

        I stopped using it because it doesn’t do budgets, but the account/budget switching is so much easier.

        Of course I understand that Spending app doesn’t really sync with a desktop app, and I know there is so much more complexity in syncing… but I bring it here as an example of how easy managing my budgets in my iPhone should be.

        DropBox is not for everybody. I do not like it at all. I still installed it just so that I could use YNAB with it. The switching and the syncing was still confusing and such a pain.

        I love YNAB, I’ve turned a few friends and family members into trying it out, but the iPhone app is just practically useless if you have more than one budget, because you still have to wait to go home to enter the data manually in each budget.

        Such is the resistance I have for the switching operation in the mobile app.

        I’m going to try Andreas’ way of using the Lite version at least for another one of the budgets, hadn’t thought of that, but Jesse… we shouldn’t have to resort to such measures.

        I’m an industrial designer, I know about usability, and the mobile app just doesn’t cut it.

        I hope improvements will be made in the future.

        Thank you,

      • Pepa

        Oh, no, the Lite version is no more!!!! Booooohooooo Now I cannot try Andreas’ way… :-(

  12. Jon

    I have been a fan since the spreadsheet days. Considering how much money I have saved in that time, price has never been an issue for me. Keep up the great work Jesse. You are a smart businessman and you deserve to be successful!

  13. hawkeyemuggs

    I say boo!!! I had an android phone and recently upgraded to an iphone. I have bought the app twice now! I was on the fence about buying it again. I should have waited :-( :-( :-( Love the app but not happy that I have bought it twice and now its free!!!!!

    • jesse

      We’re really sorry about that — especially having to buy it twice!

      • Kelley

        I have a great idea. Maybe you could offer a $5 discount off the price of your next YNAB Upgrade for users who purchased a mobile app. That would be a win/win situation for everyone.

      • hawkeyemuggs

        That’s ok. I understand. I still love YNAB! The app is worth it. Now it’s time to get my husband on board entering transactions too!

    • Roger

      I’ve actually purchased it 3 times. One from istore, and twice from google play. Cost was never an issue as I understood the value of having the mobile app to keep up with transactions as they happen. It was worth the money (and it was my fault for switching devices so much). I’m back to the iPhone and think the setup is much better on this. Moving to offer this for free I think is wise for all the reasons mentioned in the post and more. Thanks to Jesse and his incredible team for such a great product all around.

  14. Sarah

    I was one who was on the fence, but I just downloaded it now. I’m so excited, thank you!!

  15. Patrick

    Thank you for the good product, at a reasonable price – even for the mobile app.
    Free mobile app should help entice people to your fold.

  16. Suzanne

    I bought the app a while back and it made all the difference in keeping my entries up-to-date. My attempt at budgeting is much more successful with this app, it is worth every penny I paid. Thanks for simplifying my life!

  17. Tony

    I think it’s a really smart idea. I bought the app while I was doing the YNAB trial last month, because I figured it was worth $5 to me to see if the experience was what I wanted before I dropped $60 on the desktop app. But, I know a lot of people might not make that leap.

  18. 2Ben

    Funny, I tried to buy it the day before yesterday and ended up with “an error occurred” and was getting a little frustrated with Google Play. Now I’m glad the bug happened :)

  19. Brad Camroux

    I purchased the android app right after we bought the desktop package. It is so worth it. I was just reading some reviews on Google Play and people are complaining about this or that. Really the app does what we need it to do, and does it well. I bought the package right at the end of the one month trial amd never looked back. With the mobile apps, budgeting and budget management is not only easy but fun! Thanks so much to the YNAB team!

  20. dynek

    That is wonderful, thank you!

    Only issue I see is that my desktop version is using Sfr currency while the iPhone YNAB version displays $

  21. mary ann traver

    Have been using mobile on IPhone and love it – is there plans for an app for IPad?

    • jesse

      One’s under development, but it’s a long ways off. It’s pretty much like building YNAB from scratch again, since it will be full-featured, a new form factor, and awesome.

  22. Cass

    Ah, man. I was using the free iPhone app for months because I did feel as though it was unnecessary to pay for a simplified app after paying for a desktop program in today’s mobile lifestyle. Plus, I’m waiting excitedly for an iPad app that is much more functional than the iPhone app, and I was afraid you’d charge for the iPad app in addition to the iPhone app.

    However, I finally broke down just a few days ago and purchased the iPhone app because I wanted to be ale to glance at my various account balances in one spot. What timing I have!

    Anyway, still I cannot wait for the iPad app. I just know it can be so amazing, and I’d hope to rarely, if at all, use the desktop app. Don’t get me wrong, I think YNAB 4 is fantastic, but I enjoy bringing my iPad to bed to catch up on some important things before reading while I wind down for the night. There are some excellent financial iPad apps out there. It’s as though they were made for each other. I hope Betterment and SmartyPig expand to an iPad app, as well.

  23. Wali

    My husband and I just paid a total of $10 to download the apps yesterday. I’m so upset… If I only waited one day more.

  24. Daniel Lee

    I bought the iPhone app a couple weeks ago and thought that paying for the app was a little cheeky (maybe too strong a word), especially at the asking price whent eh desktop version wasnt cheap as chips. But still, i love both and have never, even for a second regretted buying either.

    Possibly you could’ve reduced the price to 69p, instead of cutting it altogether?

  25. Julian

    I am one of the last buyers, too. In fact, I was OK with the lite App and bought the full version rather to support you than I really needed it.
    Then I had the full version and loved it immediately, wondering why the differences between the apps are described so inconspicuously in the app store description.

    Personally I agree, that a companion app should be free of charge, so I appreciate your step.

  26. John

    I bought the app less than one week ago, and did feel it was a little bit much to pay. But it is useful.

  27. Nick Gauntlett

    Well i absolutely love the desktop version and have been using it for a long time, i also own the iphone version (which i have had for a while) but unfortunatly find the iphone version one of the worst finance apps in the apple store :( Really wish that improvements in design could improve and at least meet the standards of the other (free) finance apps out there, for example i find that too much space is given in the current account window for each entry thus not allowing many transactions to be seen at a glance, also on the side where the dates are some have dates and others dont, really think all should have dates, also i feel that in the current account section the should be a running balance for what should be in the account for each day (like you have on the desk top version)… but also feel that other design features could be included to make this a more enjoyable app to use

    • jesse

      Apparently they pulled the Google Maps API out from underneath us (which we are using for the Geosmart Payees. So the app wouldn’t even install. So we’re pulling that functionality and doing a resubmit.

  28. Mark Jameson

    I’ve not had time to read all the comments but I have recently bought YNAB and the android app. I don’t mind paying for an app that has similar functionality to the desktop version but I can’t edit my budget on the app.
    So I guess you are doing the right thing not charging for the app – it’s not quite good enough yet.

    But please keep working at it I love the program but want to be able to access it through my phone as I don’t always have access to my desktop – lots of family using it!

  29. Maggie

    Would love to know when the kindle version is ready. Please make an announcement when it is available. Thanks!

  30. Mark

    I had bought the android app a while back for my old barely functional droid x’s (GPS or wifi barely if at all work). I just got two iPhone 5s and I thought there was something wrong with it being free but I’m glad to see it is so I don’t have to pay again. Your picture in the App Store still says don’t buy it unless you have the desktop app. Maybe that needs to be updated to say apps are now free on all platforms.

    • mark

      Hi GA – Unfortunately, we don’t have any current plans to develop a native Windows app phone.

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