When Automattic launched a mobile app for Jetpack in June 2021, it was targeted mainly at users who were on a paid Jetpack plan, as it enables access to features like backups, restores, and security scanning. Most importantly, the app gave Automattic a more direct path for monetizing Jetpack, without adding more commercial interests into the official WordPress apps.
This week Jetpack announced that it has revamped the app and is offering a more compelling reason for those using the free plan to migrate. As part of a long-term effort to refocus the official WordPress apps, features that require Automattic’s products (the Jetpack plugin or a WordPress.com account) in order to use them, will soon be removed. This includes the Stats, Reader, and Notifications features, which have been relocated to the Jetpack app.
WordPress.com users and Jetpack users on the free plan who previously relied on these features will need to switch to the free Jetpack mobile app. All the features that are moving over from the core WordPress app will still be free in the Jetpack app.
While most self-hosted Jetpack users may easily understand the need for the switch, this transition may be rougher for WordPress.com users who do not understand the history of the mobile apps and see it all as “WordPress.” They may not be aware that Automattic’s integrated products have been controversial features in the official WordPress apps for nearly a decade.
The announcement on WordPress.com is confusing, as it presents Jetpack as just a new optional app and does not convey the urgency of migrating if users still want access to stats, notifications, the reader, and any additional paid features.
The post’s FAQ section describes the Jetpack app as “the premium mobile publishing experience for our super-connected world” and states that “the Jetpack app is free to download.” WordPress.com users who commented on the post found the words “premium” and “free to download” to be suspicious and confusing. They don’t understand the reason for two apps:
“Do we have to change over? I only want to blog, I’m not technical and I don’t understand why you have done this or how to use it?”
“So is WordPress now called Jetpack?”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This move is not in your users’ best interests, so why is it being done? This smacks of the recent pricing debacle.”
“I’m really disappointed by this decision. Why are you forcing us to use two apps? Your explanation of the differences makes no sense, and sounds like you made a decision for some reason you won’t tell us and you’re just trying to justify it. This is not user-focused at all.”
Users are also concerned about data loss, as those who are migrating to the newly revamped app are advised to delete the WordPress app after installing the Jetpack app. The announcement states that “Managing your site across both apps is currently unsupported and may lead to issues like data conflicts.”
One user asked if there are premium features in the Jetpack app that will carry additional costs, and if there is any advertising included within the app.
“For clarity, the Jetpack app is free to use and does not include in-app advertisements,” Automattic representative Siobhan Bamber said.
“We’re still planning our 2023 roadmap, and it’s possible in-app purchases will be a part of our plans. The driving goal would be to offer features that bring the most value to users, and we’re keen to hear any ideas or feedback. Any in-app purchases would be optional, with the currently free features remaining free to use.”
In response to those asking about the differences between the two apps, Bamber said there will be a couple more posts on the WordPress.com news blog in the following weeks.
Users will need to have the latest version of the WordPress app installed in order to automatically migrate their data and settings to the Jetpack app. This includes locally stored content, saved posts, and in-app preferences. The FAQ states that after users download the Jetpack app, they will be “auto-magically” logged in with all their content in place.
“One good way to confirm whether your version of the WordPress app supports ‘auto migration’ is to tap one of the in-app ‘Jetpack powered’ banners,” Bamber advised users in the comments. “You’ll find these banners at the bottom of sections including Stats and Reader. If you tap the banner, you’ll only see the ‘Switch to the new Jetpack app’ prompt in versions that support migration.”
The revamped Jetpack app has been presented to WordPress.com users as a more feature-rich way to publish to their websites, but it also lays the burden of choice on users to try to understand the difference between the two apps and select one for all the sites they manage. Many don’t want the inconvenience of switching to a new app. Based on the users’ responses, it might have been easier for them to understand that the official WordPress apps are removing all features requiring the Jetpack plugin or a WordPress.com account – instead of selling it as a new, shiny publishing experience.
Migrating to the Jetpack app is the best option if you want to continue using the Stats, Reader, and Notifications features. In order to make it easy for users to choose the best path forward, future posts on WordPress.com should make it crystal clear what features users can expect in each app and when they will need to take action.