Dorico for iPad adds one-time purchase in addition to subscriptions


With today’s release of Dorico for iPad version 2.3, users can access all the app’s premium features with a single in-app purchase via a new “Lifetime Unlock” option, rather than an ongoing subscription. This update keeps pace with the newest version of Dorico on the desktop (version 4.1), also released today.

Since the launch of Dorico for iPad in July 2021, the app has kept pace with updates to its desktop version, mostly tracking the middle-tier Dorico Elements. One of the biggest differences between the platforms since then has been the licensing systems. On Windows and Mac, Dorico has always been a one-time purchase, made even simpler earlier this year with the overhauled, hardware-free licensing system (Bye, dongle! We don’t miss you!).

On iPad, by contrast, Dorico has been free to download with the most advanced features requiring an in-app subscription purchase. This scheme didn’t sit well with many subscription-averse Dorico users. In fact, a quick pass through the App Store reviews shows that the pricing model is one of the only things users weren’t happy with, and in today’s post announcing the update, Steinberg product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury said, “if there has been a consistent theme in any negative feedback we have received about Dorico for iPad, it has been from users who have a dislike of or distrust in paying for software using a subscription.”

The new “Lifetime Unlock” option squarely addresses this.

If you pass on the initial offer (left), you can always return to get it later (right).

Dorico for iPad subscription pricing has held steady at $3.99 (USD) per month or $39.99 per year. The newly added Lifetime Unlock comes in at $119.99, roughly equivalent to three years of an annual subscription.

When Steinberg says “lifetime” here, they mean something different — and better, I think — than a regular “perpetual license” for desktop software. A lifetime unlock of Dorico on the iPad will include all future versions of Dorico. The comparable Dorico Elements on Windows and Mac costs $99, but only includes minor updates within that major version, such as 4.0 to 4.1. When Dorico Elements 5 comes out (presumably) sometime in 2023, users will need to purchase an upgrade. On the other hand, any Lifetime Unlock purchasers on the iPad will get the corresponding updates without any additional purchase. Like monthly and annual subscriptions, Lifetime Unlock purchases can be shared within a family, making this one a very inexpensive way to get into Dorico. 

Regardless of whether you currently have a subscription, you will be offered the Lifetime Unlock purchase the first time you run Dorico after updating. If you pass on the offer at that time, you can always go back and select it from the Subscribe button in the Hub (a bit of a misnomer, now). It will also be offered any time you try to use a premium feature. 

Note that if you already have a subscription and purchase Lifetime Unlock, Steinberg can’t cancel your existing subscription, so please remember to do that yourself! To cancel your Dorico subscription (or, indeed, any subscription purchased through the App Store), just go to the Settings app on your device, tap your Apple ID at the top of the list, and select Subscriptions. From there you can cancel any of your existing subscriptions. If you purchased an annual subscription right around the launch of Dorico for iPad, this timing is perfect, as we are just approaching one year from its launch. 

Be sure to cancel an existing subscription if you want to switch to the new one-time purchase option.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure of any subscription you’re interested in is something you want to stick with, you can subscribe and immediately cancel. You’ll get to keep the subscription for the whole term you purchased and it will automatically end. Since there’s rarely any penalty for a momentary lapse in a subscription, I do this with nearly all of my Apple subscriptions. 

New licensing options aren’t the only features that have been added to Dorico for iPad with this release. As Ben Byram-Wigfield wrote in his review of Dorico 4.1 for desktop (“Big Dorico”), dynamics can now be edited in the Key Editor. This is the first time this has been possible on iPad. The iPad app is also a bit more helpful when opening files from cloud sync services in order to prevent users from unintentionally losing data and accidentally duplicating projects and creating separate “forks”. 

While I have personally been happy to subscribe to Dorico on my iPad, I know lots of users will be very excited for Lifetime Unlock. Between this and the addition of Open In Place just a few weeks ago, the team at Steinberg has iterated quickly and addressed nearly all of the major concerns I expressed in my initial review last summer. And the Lifetime Unlock shows a commitment to the future of the platform that has me excited to see what’s next. 

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