The Iconfactory's Linea Sketch is switching to a subscription model in 2020

Linea Sketch on iPad Pro
Linea Sketch on iPad Pro (Image credit: The Iconfactory)

What you need to know

  • Linea Sketch will be moving to a subsription model next year.
  • The Iconfactory says it's simply not viable otherwise.
  • The switch will accompany a big new update.

The Iconfactory has confirmed (via MacStories) that its iPad drawing app, Linea Sketch (opens in new tab), is switching to a subscription model early next year. It's currently available as a paid app in the App Store and the switch will take place when the next big app update is ready.

The developer says that while the plan was to try and avoid going to a subscription model, the app simply costs more to make than the revenue that's coming in.

We tried hard to avoid a subscription, but the costs to maintain the app are much higher than the income from new sales. This is obviously not a sustainable situation! We have two options:

  • Let the app die a slow, painful, and unsupported death
  • Find a source of recurring revenue

If you're wondering just how much work goes into making these kinds of app, it turns out it's a lot.

We spent over 200 hours on the Linea 2.7 update. A majority of that time was not even spent adding new features, instead it was spent making sure that everything looked right with the operating system's new Dark Mode!

When the switch to subscription happens, it'll be part of the Linea 3.0 update which brings with it a few new features that people will want to get their hands on. And the subscription will get them complete and full access to both the iPhone and iPad apps.

  • Time-lapse to capture your creation as it evolves
  • Templates with adjustable intensity
  • Custom backgrounds with adjustable paper color and texture
  • App themes and beautiful new app icons for your home screen
  • QuickToggle: two-handed drawing is all we're going to say :-)
  • And more…

If you purchased Linea in 2019 you'll get a free year's subscription, while everyone else will pay $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Dear Iconfactory, I don’t rent software. The new version of Linea Sketch looks good. I won’t be trying it.
  • Same. It's pretty obvious now that companies are just doing it because it's in fashion, everyone else is doing it so they follow suit, but they'll lose long-standing customers
  • Unfortunately Apple is encouraging developers to go the subscription route, explicitly by recommending it at WWDC and elsewhere and implicitly by offloading a hefty maintenance burden onto developers by breaking the APIs (and apps that use them) with every yearly iOS update. Developers have to keep updating their apps every year just to keep them running, and that requires time and effort even if they don't add any new features. If iOS maintained better backward compatibility this wouldn't be as big of a problem. It is my hope that users will largely reject subscription apps; it's simply not scalable or sustainable to have subscriptions to dozens of apps. Moreover, individual app subscriptions are a terrible value compared to a subscription to Apple Arcade which gives you more than 100 apps/games. Personally I don't need *any* more subscriptions of any kind.
  • I’m so disappointed in this decision. Linea Sketch is relatively expensive as iOS software goes and fairly feature sparse but in a good way. Meanwhile Savage Interactive just released Procreate 5, a major *free* update. It’s difficult to imagine the complexity of Linea Sketch 3 exceeds Procreate 5. Perhaps Linea is targeted at a niche audience to small to be viable?
  • If it wasn’t a niche audience before, it certainly is now. I’d stick with Procreate and support the good, genuine developers
  • RIP Linea Sketch. I used to like it, but I despise subscription apps. Same reason I don't bother with Clip Studio Paint on iOS, even though I like it on macOS. I'm glad Procreate doesn't pull this nonsense.
  • Not yet anyway, I've been somewhat panic buying some apps in hopes that I can grab a version before they possibly might decide to go to subscription, it's a sobering thought when you see how many apps are switching to subscription pricing now