Idea: One version to rule them all

Hi guys,

I’m just taking a break from my work om improving TV show filename recognition (it’s getting awesome, by the way), and I wanted to discuss something pretty significant with you guys.

As you know, there’s currently two versions of Mizuu – a free ad-supported version and a paid version that’s completely free of ads. I decided to create Mizuu that way a few years ago, and it’s a decision that’s haunted me ever since. Upgrading from the free version to the paid version is a mess, and maintaining two different versions of the application isn’t optimal either. Today I’d like to propose a change to that version structure.

Ideally, I’d like to have one version of Mizuu on Google Play. Just one. It’ll be completely free to download and will be ad-supported by default. I know many of you hate ads, so there’ll naturally be an option to remove ads using in-app purchasing.

If I were to go down this route, I’d make the paid version completely free and the current free version would be removed from Google Play. Sadly, Google Play has no means of checking which users have previously purchased the application, and that’s a bit of a problem. Paying users obviously shouldn’t be presented with ads in the application.

I do have a suggestion, though, that – sort of – fixes the problem, and I really need your feedback on it. Here’s how it goes:

Everyone who downloads the updated, unified application within the first two months of release will have ads deactivated. This should provide an easy transition phase for active users. However, this won’t work if you uninstall the application and reinstall it again after the two month period – in that case, you’ll have ads again.

In addition to that, I’ll add a menu in the application settings where you can remove ads by entering the e-mail address of the Google account you used to purchase Mizuu with. I have a long list of e-mail addresses of the people who’ve purchased the paid version of Mizuu, so I can easily set up a web service to check the license. There’ll likely be a soft limit to prevent piracy, but this will allow you to uninstall and reinstall the application multiple times and simply enter your e-mail address in the application settings to remove the ads. If you reach the limit, you will be able to e-mail me and I’ll reset the limit.

Here’s the thing, though. It is possible for me to automate the above-mentioned process, so the user doesn’t have to manually enter anything. The downside to this is that I’ll have to access the user account on your device, and that requires permission to read your contacts. That’s a pretty scary permission for many people, and I fully understand that. If I were to implement it like so, I’d obviously provide full disclosure on the exact usage of the permission.

So… What do you guys think? I know it’s a long and complicated read, but there’s sadly no way to make it easier. Trust me, I’ve checked and asked. Multiple times.

Update:ย Some of you have suggested that I turn the paid version into a key that unlocks the free version. I’m personally not a fan of that approach. It has a number of disadvantages, mainly that users of the current version will have to transition to the free version, thus having to set up the application once again. Obviously, this would be the easiest solution by far, but I’m not really a fan of removing all the user’s data and forcing them to set up everything again.

Update #2: The response is remarkable – both in the comments and via e-mail. Thanks guys! I may not be able to respond to all, but your feedback is much appreciated.

Update #3: I’m re-considering the idea of having an application that acts as an “unlock key”. If I were to do something like that, it’d be a new paid application on Google Play, and I’d happily refund the original purchase for any existing customers. It’ll be a manual process though, so you’ll have to request the refund and I’ll manually have to process it. What do you guys think of that idea?

PS. I’ve sent a mass e-mail to all paid users of the application to notify them of this blog post. I am in no way trying to spam anyone – I just think it’s important for paid users to be notified and have their say.

119 Comments

  1. Go for the contacts permission. Remove it after that 2 month period. Best Compromise.

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  2. I’d be happy to have to add my e-mail address each timed I re-download it. Not a big fan of giving out my contacts, no disrespect, I’d just rather not if I don’t have to.

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    • That’s totally fair and understandable. I know many people feel the same way. Thanks for the feedback!

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  3. Seems reasonable to me. The email solution is a fool proof way to ensure that paid users can always have ads removed.

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  4. I’m down if you send out emails when you make the switch. Love this app.

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  5. I think your option of allowing email addresses to be entered to remove ads for paid users is fine. Contact access permissions are fine as long as it’s purpose is transparent as you’ve described. I don’t have issue here. It is essential for user experience to have the installation uninstallation installation a removal process seamless and feel this is an acceptable method to achieve it. My 2 cents.

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  6. You should have a paid key app that would unlock the paid features.

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  7. The automated option is not the route I would prefer. I have no problem entering my email in the settings.

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  8. Hey Michelle, you are an awesome developer, and should you choose to automate the activation process, giving your app the necessary permissions will not bother me in the least. Keep up the good work!

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  9. I think it is if you add the permission to read our contacts as long as, like you said, explain exactly why it is required. I am not sure if majority of people feel that way though, this is just my own thought.

    Typing in your email address when you install the app isn’t really that big of a deal either. It only takes 2 seconds.

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  10. Having to login your email every time you re-download sounds good to me.

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  11. Hey there,

    Maintaining two different source bases is never fun. I think you’re doing the right thing and as far as the licensing process goes, the solution where we simply enter our email address to authenticate I think is acceptable. The less ‘poking around’ in contacts the better ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • +1

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    • I agree

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    • I agree – email route.

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    • +1

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  12. I personally don’t mind repurchasing the app to remove the ads once and for all as long as there is no need to do it again and the price is right. Either that or make the app pay only as I personally am not a fan of ads ๐Ÿ™‚ I am constantly resetting my google tv’s from time to time so I really don’t like the idea of downloading a updated unified app and not being able to mess with it after 2 months with seeing the ads if I reset my google tv.

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  13. I would be fine with it.
    Just as long as I can enter my email myself to deactivate the ads then that works for me

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  14. Wouldn’t it be easier if we updated and did an in app purchase and paid for it again? You already have the list of people who purchased it so if I email you and say I already paid, then you just refund the in app purchase amount. That sounds reasonable to me. Is this not possible? When we update just have a notification. Asking people to email you to get a refund, its not like the app will stop working while we wait.

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    • +1. Half the people won’t even bother asking for a refund.

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      • I know I won’t. Mizuu is cool. I wouldn’t mind throwing another buck or so his way.

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        • Seems like a good solution though I do not know, whether the in app purchase is cancelled as well, when he refunds the money..

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  15. Can’t you create and send an unlock code you send to all the people who have paid for the app already (or they can request one directly from you if they miss the email?).

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  16. As long as my purchase is preserved I’ve no problem with both solutions. No problem with the contract permission ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. I do not problem with access contacts lists and account google.

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  18. Can you turn the paid version into a key? Similar to how a lot of apps on Google play works?

    Everyone downloads the free ad version. Then the paid version is a key that deactivate the ads. You can just maintain the free version.

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    • Did not see this reply, I just posted the same thing.

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    • This is the best option for me, but I am currently only using it on my phone.
      Though, I can see how this option might impact others that are using it to manage 100’s of files at home as apposed to the 20 on my device.

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  19. I definitely wouldn’t mind just entering my email address to remove the ads. Great app, thanks for all the hard work!

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  20. I will go with whatever you think is good because this app has make my movies collection more “life” than before.

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  21. One version makes a lot of sense. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m completely happy to simply pay again. Mizuu is a fantastic program and well worth the price (x2). The developer offers fantastic support and is completely transparent when it comes to changes like this.

    Whatever method you decide on, I will remain a happy loyal customer. I also trust you completely if permissions change and you can read my contacts. The only downside may be a loss of future sales to those who are nervous about this.

    I say discontinue the current version and charge again for the ad free one!

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  22. Hi Michell, my only concern is while I’m off wifi, will I be able to use the app if it can’t verify the license? Does it need to verify every time it’s used? Sometimes I use the app offline to save battery.

    But your app is my favorite of all time and I trust that you’ll make a good decision, based on the feedback from everyone.

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  23. You have your website…. could you not use that as a login with our emails… to get to a code that you change whenever you like? (Set a script to change daily if you like) So when we need to reinstall (as I reset my phone allot) it asks for a code… checks your website… matching code = bingo. Getting the code = no extra permission…

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  24. I am ok with either but I would prefer not to give access to my contacts. This is just such a great app that I am willing to be very flexible with respect to the change. Is it not possible to send discount codes to current owners so that we could buy the app again for say $1 or whatever to get rid of the ads?

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  25. I like the enter email option, but as others have said, contact permission is ok with me if the process is transparent.

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  26. I’ll agree with many here saying that entering your email each time is no issue. The permission change will likely bother some and may hurt your sales in the future, which would be a huge problem, as you’ve done a great job with this app.

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  27. Hi
    Sounds like a lot of work on your side. Maybe you could just change the paid app into a license-key that hides itself from the drawer after the fist start.

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  28. Why not have an unlock app like a lot of other apps use. Make the current Paid app an unlock key, users that have paid would be able to download / install the unlock key. They would just have to download the free app. Then the unlock key would remove ads.

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  29. Why not release a third version with a significant feature and stop updating the others. I would gladly pay again as this is a superb app.

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  30. +1 to the paid version to key idea mentioned above although not sure how easy it would be to pirate. Don’t mind either proposed solution.

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  31. I don’t mind the contact information access but I think entering it in manually would work better.

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  32. What about adding google account authentication? If you added it to the paid version now, you’d have a list of google account logins. You could then store those accounts locally and use that to authenticate afterwards. It should work since it would be the same app and could use the same tokens.

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  33. I’ll be fine with re-entering my email to get verified each time I download. I’m not as comfortable as some with giving out access to my contact list. You can thank the NSA and the likes of google and facebook for that. Two months ago I might have granted full access to my contact list.

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  34. Happy to manually enter my email address

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  35. I’m not entirely sure of the gory details of how this process works, but I have seen it done with other apps I have purchased (i.e. RomManager, Chameleon Launcher and Titanium Backup, to mention a few).

    They basically had the same situation as you (two versions of the same app, one paid, one free), and the same goal (a single unified version, with in-app purchases to unlock all features and/or remove ads.)

    The process those developers decided on was to release a new version that was add supported, while having the option for an in-app purchase to remove ads and unlock premium features. Once the new version was released, users who had previously purchased the paid application would actually purchase the new released application, but then email the developer with both Google Play order numbers (original paid app, and new in-app purchase) and then the developer would refund the amount of one of the purchases.
    That way, the user would not pay twice, but would still have a valid purchase of the new application version.

    Like I said, I’m not sure exactly how all of this is done on the developer’s end, but I know it is possible.

    A side bonus to this method, is you won’t have to set up the web service to monitor a list of email accounts and keep track of how many times they are used. Further limiting the opportunity for piracy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • I forgot to add…
      This also allows users the option to simply support you further with a second payment if they would like, since this app is so great! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  36. I don’t mind entering my email address in settings. Seems like the best way to give people peace of mind about privacy. Thanks for informing us and keep up the great work. This is an App that I use constantly and for a long time now!

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  37. Hey! Supported this app from the beginning!! NO ADS PLEASE!!!

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  38. Thank you for keeping us in the loop. Can you make it both ways? Have the app ask for permission or the option to put it in manually.

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  39. I think I would prefer to enter my email address. The lass new permissions the better for me. Love the app BTW!

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  40. I’d prefer entering email once after installing over the permissions. And if I may suggest, use a poll ๐Ÿ™‚

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  41. You do whatever is best for you. You’re doing all the work to get this app to us so you just make it easy on yourself. Most people have so many apps and change stuff around so often, they have forgotten what was paid for and what wasn’t. Just key those on your current paid list informed of what we need to do to continue using a very well made app!

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  42. I don’t mind entering email. No automation necessary since you normally install the app once anyway. So no need for contact permission. Subsonic has this same authentication for paid users for the server app.

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  43. yes i think the email input is best. even though there are a LOT of people who wouldn’t care about the user account access, there will still be a few who are NOT comfortable with it at all even with complete transparency…this could make them feel alienated and maybe even push them away from such a great app…
    ultimately i don’t mind either way but i think an email input solution is best.
    I have another paid launcher app with an email AND a key input that i’ve set up too many times to count…it never bothers me to take the extra minute or so for manual input to unlock.

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  44. I don’t care too much either way, I change my roms quite a bit and restore the device id and app with titanium backup, I love the app and will support however you work it out.

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  45. I have the paid version. Worth every penny. Personally I don’t care how you implement the going-forward version as long as there are NO ADS. I don’t mind reconfiguring my setup (sometimes it’s good to reset from square one). In addition, I don’t believe the dev is connected with the NSA so I’m not too antsy about access issues.

    Do what you think is best, Michelle. Rather, do whatever it takes to maintain your top-notch app.

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  46. I think the email is the best way to go. I do not like chaging the permissions way.

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  47. I agree with whatever is easiest for you. I have tons of apps that have each type of activation, although I prefer the automatic reading of my accounts permission so I don’t have to type in anything – I just have to select the correct Google account.

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  48. I like the email address option because it allows me more flexibility after changing devices.

    Sometimes I do a factory reset to clear problems and issues.

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  49. I agree with the manual email entry option. It’s not a big hassle and will keep the permissions required to a minimum. Thanks for an awesome app and all the fantastic support and development!

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  50. Thanks for including us in your decisions! You have created an incredible app and are one of the best developers and this proves it. I would not mind any of the suggestions, although the email entry each time does seem best. Thanks again!

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  51. I feel either the manual entering of an email address or using the paid app as a key would be best. I don’t mind reconfiguring the app. I’m sure we’ll have to again sometime in the future anyway. I do not care for the idea of allowing contacts permission. Like others have said, no offense is meant by that preference.

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  52. I’dbe happy to add my email address only, to unlock the ad version to the full. But I refuse to give access to my contacts.

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  53. Personally, I’m fine with contact access permissions from you. I’ve read your blog posts, I believe we’ve corresponded in the past, and I trust you as an honest developer. One of the main reasons I bought the app at all was to support you for creating a quality app as a trustworthy developer. That being said, I would like having the ‘key’ app to register the free version. I think that would be far more convenient for those of us who flash ROM’s frequently to our phones / tablets and are therefore re-installing the app relatively frequently. I wouldn’t want to have to e-mail you every time I surpass the limit, not only to avoid a nuisance on both sides, but also to ensure you know I (or anybody else) is trying to rip you off.

    Whatever you decide to do, though, I appreciate your openness to the people who purchased your app. Close attention to customers is why I really love small app developers.

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  54. Email method works for me

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  55. This seems like a naturally thing to do. Personally, my preference would still be to make the current paid version a key. Sure, there would be an inconvenience at first, but it would make things easier when you install Mizuu on other devices.

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  56. I’d rather manually input my email address, than allow access to my contact list.

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  57. Bought the app on a whim for my Revue, played with it very briefly (GTV/VIMU is my main smb streaming app) and while I am not super familiar with the app, I do appreciate you asking your users for feedback.

    I think I would prefer an option where the current paid app became the sole free ad-supported app (keeps app settings), and you allow paid users to enter a serial number (sent to purchasers in email, like this feedback request). Maybe have an option in the app to “email me my serial number *paid users only*”

    This keeps settings, and allows paid users to unlock ad-free mode. Additionally, if a user’s Serial shows up on a piracy site, you can black list it and regenerate a new one for that compromised user.

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  58. I’m down for paying again to support Mizuu. An Email verification will be sufficient way also. If you ask for contacts permission you might get a lower rating for this.

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  59. Typing my email address in once to unlock the app is an easy approach. I would prefer that.

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  60. Whatever is easiest. I’ve been here since the beginning. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  61. I don’t mind entering my email address and do the setup again

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  62. I personally agree with the entering email address option. I think its great that you are giving us a say though, I know many Devs would even do that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I appreciate your effort on this app a lot! Cheers man ๐Ÿ™‚

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  63. I’m fine with both automated and email entering. I don’t mind repaying either. All as long as I don’t have to re-enter all markings like Favorites, Watchlist and Seen.

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  64. Entering your email when you re-download or sending out an unlocking code to those who purchased the app seems to be fair solutions. I would do what is best for you in the long run to keep building out this great app. We can adjust.

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  65. I vote for changing the paid version to a key.

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  66. For authentication of the payed for version I would enter my email address, but like some, I dislike the idea of access to my contacts list.

    Great app!!!

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  67. You may want to turn the paid version of mizuu into an unlocker app for the ad version of mizuu to eliminate ads.
    Regards,
    Olaf

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  68. Entering my email on install is my preferred option.

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  69. I vote the “enter email each time” option.

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  70. Can you do a low cost (even zero maybe) in-app purchase in the current paid version to get the paid people registered then increase it to full price when you make the app free? You maybe can do refunds for those who have paid that miss this grace period. It’s only a couple of bucks at the end of the day, most probably wouldn’t bother with refunds.

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  71. The best way (in my opinion) would be to let users that already purchased the app ask for a refund, when they do an in app purchase in the new version.
    Another good option would be to create a key application with the opportunity for paid users to transfer their data to the free app.

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  72. I have no issues with the automated option whatsoever. Go for it!

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  73. Adding my e-mail adress to remove ads is no problem.

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  74. My 2ยข. Agree with others on here that reading contact data is a bad idea for a media library app, you’ll get a load of bad reviews when people see the permissions popup when they install.

    Your personal data – read contact data: Allows an application to read all of the contact (address) data stored on your phone. Malicious applications can use this to send your data to other people.

    Other ideas / questions.

    Personally i’d prefer the ‘request refund’ option for the old ‘paid’ app, after purchasing the in-app unlock in the new version. Not sure how much work this would be for you though, would you need to go through each of the refund requests by hand?

    For the ‘turn the paid app into the unlock key’ option, would it be possible to add a backup/restore settings function to the paid app before it’s retired, to allow people to migrate settings from the paid app to the free one?

    Will the in-app purchase unlock any extra features or just remove ads?

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  75. I think you want to go the email route. The permissions idea may be a red flag for new users. Honestly I trust you with whatever you decide but new users don’t know that you are a good guy.

    If existing users need to switch apps, is there an easy way to backup settings?

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  76. E-mail option sounds good. But if there’s no other option than the read contacts go for it. One more thing, how are we going to now when the update is ready for download and what version number will it carry?

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  77. I think you’d better creating an on-line survey in order to solve the question. In this way every premium user could partecipate, give feedback and follow the result. Could be a democratic approach but be sure that one or more could be unhappy with the result: in that case are you ready to refund what they paid for your creation?

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  78. Either way is fine with me. All I ask is you make sure to notify us (same mass email method is fine) of when the change occurs and what we need to do.

    Great app. Just keep up the development!

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  79. Hi guys!

    I just updated the blog post with a new idea. Let me know what you think of it!

    Cheers
    Michell

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    • Sounds good.
      If you prefer a in app purchase over a key app (I think that both are a good solution), you could offer refund as well.

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  80. Email option sounds great. Nice work on developing this app!

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  81. i found the key app like it used PowerAMP for example the best solution.

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  82. I would prefer the key app approach, even If i have rebuild my meta data. If I could sync my library from Trakt, that would be even better. Not sure how the contact permissions could work on Google TV devices since there are no contacts stored on the device. At any rate, whatever route you choose to take I will follow, love the app.

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  83. I’ll fork up another 1.99 for the new unified version so I don’t have to go through any of the options that have been outlined. How about that? Jesus, it’s not going to break the bank if it’s 5.99.

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  84. When you say reconfigure your setup are you just saying re-point to the storage where your files are kept? If so then that’s not a big deal at all for me. I also don’t mind entering my email address each time as long as I remember which one it was :). I also really like the idea of having an unlock key for paid users and would happily email for a refund if required (although that seems like a lot of work for you).
    In the end, if it meant I had to pay the same amount again because nothing else worked efficiently, I would. This app was recently introduced to me (like literally a few days ago) and already I can’t imagine what I ever did before it :). Nice job.

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  85. Unlock key app would be good for paid users. And PLEASE ๐Ÿ™‚ i really dont want to setup the whole thing again. In spent several hours for my setup. Cheers

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  86. I’d be happy entering my email address or original order number from google play into the settings to unlock

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  87. I would have no problem entering my email address prefer this to giving up access to contacts.

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  88. I think just typing in your email would be easiest. Getting a refund one some new purchased key app sounds way more complicated than that.

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  89. Entering email address manually or an unlock key are both fine I think.

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  90. Forking up another 1.99 for this app is not a problem, I spent a lot of time looking for an app that does just this job and I’d hate to loose it.
    Any thought about when someone transfers to another device? BUt again I would happily spend and 1.99 for this. You have done a great job, whould not like to loose it

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  91. You can just make the paid app the unlock key, that way the people that bought didn’t
    need to go through the hassle of asking for a refund and you don’t need to add another app to the play store.

    Make the free version locked and the key unlocking the pro features.

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    • +1 for this option

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  92. Hi,
    Why don’t propose mizuu totaly free without ads and transform paid version to donation for project?! I personally never buy anything to google play to avoid sharing my personal data. But paypal donation why not.

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    • Honestly, I’m not developing Mizuu to make any money. I can’t tell you the specifics of what I make from it, but it’s an extremely bad deal considering the amount of time I spend on it.

      Anyway, I have no intention of making it free and creating a donation version. That would – without a doubt – lower the earnings, and I honestly value my time greater than that. I’m working on Mizuu at least 50 hours a week, and I’m currently prioritizing Mizuu over doing actual paid work. If I were to make it free, I just wouldn’t be able to justify it.

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  93. Update #3 sounds great in theory but you’ll lose money for people who stopped using the app and don’t redownload the unlock application. Is there no way to publish the unlock application as an update to the paid version? I guess everyone would have to redownload the “free” version and restore all their settings. Would it be too much work to have an export/import settings feature to make that transition easier? Sounds like the real issue is the lack of a good way to import and export settings between versions, but I know that’s not a trivial issue to resolve.

    Thanks for a great product! Appreciate the way you are approaching this in getting feedback.

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  94. Like #3 as long as we can be refunded the cost of the existing version. love the app BTW

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  95. Michael do what u think will work best somethings u have to comprise. As a EE propeller-head great hardware is nothing without great software:-).

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  96. I don’t know if this has been suggested yet but what if you just scrapped the free version altogether and just made this a pay app?

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    • It is something I’m considering. Not out of greed or anything, but I do put a substantial number of hours in to development and I do value my time. Needless to say that I’m not getting rich or anything even remotely close – if I were to work out an hourly rate, it’d be a horrible deal for me. Also, it has a number of other advantages. Many people download the free version because they think it’ll give them free movies or TV shows – they simply don’t understand the purpose and then leave a poor review. That’s much rarer with a paid application.

      So yeah, considering all kinds of things.

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  97. Contacts permission is not a big deal as long as you are being legit with it ๐Ÿ™‚

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  98. Im happy with both email confirmation and unlock code ideas. Love the app! I use it as my main source for my movies.

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  99. I would prefer the paid app be a key to unlock the ad free

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  100. For me of course entering email solution is the best option , period.

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