One of the mobile era's bestselling photo apps now has a sequel — and in a nod to the changing economics of the App Store, it's going free for the first time. Facetune 2, from Israeli developer Lightricks, arrives on iOS today boasting a series of radical improvements over its predecessor. But to realize the full power of the app, you'll still have to pay: via in-app purchases for individual effects, or via a monthly or annual subscription.
If you're in the practice of perfecting your selfies, it's hard to imagine a more powerful tool than what Lightricks has built here. Live previews let you see what effects like teeth whitening and skin smoothing will look like before you snap your photo. The "face" tool lets you reshape your eyes, nose, mouth, and chin — which Facetune has automatically detected and created 3D models of using machine learning. And "relight" lets you strip out the original lighting from your photo and simulate a different look.
That's in addition to a host of retouching brushes, filters, and other tools. You can buy the a la carte for a few bucks a piece or subscribe: $4 for a month, $15 for 6 months, or $20 for a year. (Subscriptions are half off on launch day.) A $20 selfie app subscription will sound insane to a certain sector of the software-downloading public, but Lightricks says it's a superior business to the App Store's original paid download model. "If we want to create a serious tools company, we need to monetize in a recurrent fashion," said Itai Tsiddon, one of the company's co-founders.
To me, the most impressive thing about the new Facetune is the way it's able to identify and then manipulate parts of your face without you having to first carefully trace around them, as you did during the old days of Adobe Photoshop. Snapping a selfie and then doing some digital plastic surgery with a few taps feels like a step forward for mobile photo editing. And if like me you've always suspected your nose is a little too big for your face, there's now an easy way of finding out. (It is, but it's part of my distinctive charm.)
Of course, it's also possible to go crazy in Facetune, creating uniquely monstrous versions of yourself to scare friends and family. But for most Facetune users — and more than 6 million people bought the original app — the app is a mobile beauty shop. If you're the sort of person who takes 100 selfies to find the perfect shot to post Instagram, Facetune 2 is well worth a look.