Google’s high-end Nik Collection photo software is now free, and probably dead

The Photoshop plug-in suite is now completely free, but don’t expect any more updates.


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A few years ago, the Nik Collection of photo editing tools would have cost you $500. Now, Google's giving it all away.

The Nik Collection is a set of seven plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. The toolbag includes vintage camera filters, black-and-white controls, HDR effects, noise reduction, color correction, color enhancement, and sharpening. The entire suite is now available as a free download from Google on either Mac or Windows.

Of course, there’s a catch: In explaining the giveaway, Google says it is continuing to “focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile,” including Google Photos and Nik’s own Snapseed app for iOS and Android. Although Google doesn’t say this outright, it sounds like the desktop Nik Collection is no longer in development.

Google bought Nik, a German software developer, in 2012. At the time, Nik offered six desktop plug-ins as a $500 bundle, and Google dropped the price to $149 roughly six months after the acquisition. All along, Google seemed more interested in Nik’s Snapseed photo editor, and the mobile versions in particular. (A desktop version of Snapseed was killed off by Google just before the initial price cut in 2013.)

For longtime Nik Collection users, the giveaway is bad news, as it means the software they paid for has almost certainty reached the end of the line in terms of updates. (One exception: Those who bought the collection in 2016 will get an automatic refund.) For everyone else, powerful photo tools don’t get any cheaper than this.

Why this matters: Google is in the business of selling ads though online services, not direct sales of online software, so while it’s unusual that the software lasted this long, Nik users probably should have seen the end coming. In any case, it’s further proof that just because you paid for something doesn’t mean it’s safe from the Silicon Valley acquire-and-kill model.

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