There are a ton of veritable sketching, drawing, and handwriting apps out and about on the App Store, but the one that holds a special place in my dock is FiftyThree's Paper. The app's won many a convert for its excellent drawing tools, previously encumbered by an $8 in-app purchase; as of Thursday, however, those tools are now completely free for everyone and anyone to scribble to their heart's content.
FiftyThree doesn't give detailed reasoning behind its decision, published in a blog post earlier this morning, though the company does note that it hopes to grow its Mix platform and overall usage of the app:
At FiftyThree, we built Paper to remove barriers to creativity by putting simple, powerful tools into people's hands. By making Paper accessible to all, we hope to see more great ideas come to life – on Mix and everywhere.
I also wouldn't be surprised if the company did this in hopes to gain more users of its $60 Pencil stylus, one of FiftyThree's remaining paid products. The other, a $25 Moleskine print of any of your virtual Paper sketchbooks, may be equally appealing to users who now have to pay nothing to play with the app.
This move may not particularly please the legions of Paper fans who already paid for their tools, but as one of those people, I'm not particularly perturbed: Because of those in-app purchases, I've gotten to use the app in full for several years now; if I'd waited until the tools were free, I wouldn't have had any of that time to sketch, create, or paint what I'd liked.
Despite the move to a fully free app, I'm hoping this doesn't hinder or otherwise hold up Paper's development; I've been wanting a Procreate Pocket-style iPhone app for years, and there are still plenty of other little quibbles and bug fixes the company could undertake.