We’ve all had a bit more time recently, so to take advantage of being stuck at home I’ve been busy working on the next new version of Sunbeam – and this time it’s a big one!
A fresh new look
With this version of Sunbeam I wanted to do something a bit different, so I’ve been working on a complete visual overhaul of the app. It’s still the same reliable UV forecast information you’re used to; but now with a sleeker, more modern design. Hourly and daily forecasts for the week ahead are now presented graphically, dark mode looks better than ever before, and the app still supports the major system level accessibility technologies; including Dynamic Type and Voice Over. It feels like a whole new app!
Sunbeam Pro is a new subscription that gives you access to some of Sunbeam’s best features for the price of a cup of coffee a year.
One of the most commonly requested features on the original version of Sunbeam was the ability to get UV forecasts for anywhere in the world – not just your current location. And now, with a Sunbeam Pro subscription, you can! You can also add up to 5 places to your favourites list for quick and easy access to the locations you care most about. So now if you’re heading to the beach for the weekend, you can quickly and easily check the UV forecast before you leave.
Sunbeam Pro gives you access to daily UV forecasts for the week ahead as well as more frequent forecast refreshes, so you can be sure the information you’re seeing is no more than 10 minutes old.
A word on subscription pricing
Sunbeam’s never been about making money – and honestly it still isn’t. A little over a year ago when I first launched the app I didn’t really know how many people would download it or how often they’d use it. I’ve been delighted by the reception Sunbeam’s gotten – in terms of the number of downloads, how often people have been using it and the App Store reviews. So far this spring Sunbeam is seeing well in excess of 10x the daily downloads it had this time last year, and that means the cost of buying the weather data that feeds the app is rising too. Add to that the fixed costs of maintaining a server and being an Apple Developer, and it’s quickly become clear that the free to use model isn’t sustainable longer term.
That leaves a few options – either funding the app through advertising (which degrades the user experience and raises privacy issues), making the app paid up front (which limits who can try the app in the first place, and isn’t a sustainable model given the ongoing cost of running an app), or moving to a subscription model.
I’ve settled on the subscription model as the approach that will enable me to put funding of the app on a sustainable basis, while allowing those who want to try out the app to continue to access the all of its core features for free. If you think you’d get value from Sunbeam Pro’s premium features, please do consider trying it out – and there’s a 14-day free trial period so you won’t lose out if you decide it’s not for you.
One last thing
Lastly, I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who’s downloaded, used, reviewed and provided feedback on Sunbeam over the past year. The response has been so much more positive than I could have anticipated when I first launched the app in January 2019, and I’ve found the whole journey really rewarding for me personally. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy using the app as much as I’ve enjoyed making it.