App Review – Afterlight 2

The Design Jedi | App Review - Afterlight 2

The other morning I woke up and was greeted by a ton of app update notifications. Among them was one for Afterlight, an app that I’ve had installed on my phone for several years, as it’s long been a favorite in the photo category in the App Store.

I remember when Afterlight was released, five years ago, when it’s name was still “Afterglow,” at a time when iphoneography was a term that hadn’t hit the masses yet. At the time, Afterlight was considered truly innovative, as it provided iphoneographers with a great toolset for processing their images quickly and easily on the go. It’s popularity caused it to quickly rise to the top of the charts, and as of December 2014 it became the third most downloaded paid iPhone and iPad app.

With that said, I was intrigued when I read the description on the Afterlight app update and saw that it was the app’s fifth anniversary, and that the app’s development team had just released its successor, Afterlight 2.

Since I’ve had the original version of Afterlight installed on my phone since it’s 1.0 version, and being that I’m a sucker for photo apps in general, I decided that I had to check out Afterlight 2 to see if it was as good or better than the first. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint.

If you’ve used Afterlight before, then Afterlight 2 will feel familiar, as the UI is similar and you can tell that it was created by the same developers. In my testing the app was snappy, the interface was intuitive and I didn’t experience any crashing, so that was a plus.

When you open the app, you’re greeted with a usual permission notification, which is expected from a photo editing app. Then once access to the camera roll is provided, images appear in the content area for the user to select one to edit.

Screenshots from Afterlight 2: App opening sequence, image selection screen, single image screen with editing toolbar

Afterlight 2 offers a variety of editing tools, expanding beyond what the original version of Afterlight offered. These include:

  • Typography and Art — the user now has the ability to add words to their images by utilizing a bank of over 50 typefaces, and/or add custom art layers as well. These design layers can be arranged and deleted at any time while editing, giving the user greater control.
  • Curves — users have the ability to make detailed curves adjustments to their images within the app.
  • Selective Hue/Saturation — users can fine-tune their color editing within the app using the selective hue/saturation tools.
  • Double Exposures — users can blend two images from their camera roll together into a unique multiple exposure image.
The Design Jedi | App Review - Afterlight 2 | Filter/Double Exposure Screenshots

Screenshots from Afterlight 2: Filter collections, Fusion Filter screen, Double Exposure screen

While Afterlight 2 has added these new features, it hasn’t completely forgotten its roots. There are still plenty of features that users of the original app will find familiar, such as general image editing tools (exposure, brightness/contrast, etc.), it’s signature filters, the ability to create fusion filters, and more.

The Design Jedi | App Review - Afterlight 2 | Curves/Selective Color Screenshots

Screenshots from Afterlight 2: Curves Feature, Gradient Filter, Selective Color Feature

I did come across a couple of notably absent features during my testing. I realized that while the original Afterlight had at one time been known for its unique collection of light leaks and frames users could add to their images, I wasn’t able to find those features within Afterlight 2. Now, this wasn’t a deal breaker for me because those weren’t the features I used most from the original version of Afterlight, but their absence from Afterlight 2 was enough for me to notice, so if you’re a light leak or a unique frame junkie, it might be something to be aware of.

Upon releasing Afterlight 2, to celebrate the launch and the 5 year anniversary of the original Afterlight, it’s development team posted this within the release notes:

“Afterlight is now officially 5 years old! We thought this anniversary was as good a time as ever to do something big and fresh, so today we’re introducing our brand new app, Afterlight 2. We’ve packed a ton of new features and content into this release, and we hope you love it!

The original Afterlight is now available free as we focus on what’s new, but rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere! We will continue to take feedback, make fixes, and add new content here frequently!”
– (Afterlight v3.5 Update Release Notes 11/2/2017)

Overall, from just a few days of testing it out, my first impressions of Afterlight 2 are extremely positive. I like the intuitive user interface that’s even more streamlined than the original app, and the additional new features are excellent choices that seem to fit with the UI as if they belonged in the app since day 1. As I stated before, the app is snappy and responsive and I haven’t experienced any crashing on the iPhone 7Plus I used for testing. Once my iPhone X arrives I’ll update this review if I notice any differences but I don’t expect any.

One thing I did want to note was the choice the development team made for Afterlight 2 in regards to pricing. Not many successor apps have been able to win over their early adopters in recent years, with several high profile ones (that will remain nameless) opting to go with a subscription model for the second iteration of their app which more often then not ends up stirring up animosity from loyal users. What I really like about the way Afterlight Collective, Inc. did it was that they chose to have Afterlight 2 priced as a one-time fee that unlocks all content. On top of that, the price they set is not outrageous, it’s actually really reasonable when you look at the feature set offered compared to other apps of its caliber. To be honest, I applaud the team at Afterlight Collective for not giving in and going the subscription route like so many of their competitors have. In the long run, I think this will be one of the best decisions for them as far as customer loyalty goes.

With that said, the original version of Afterlight, (which is still a killer app, by the way) is now available for free, and its successor, Afterlight 2 is available now in the App Store – currently priced at $2.99.

The Design Jedi | App Review - Afterlight 2 | Typography Screenshots

Screenshots from Afterlight 2: Typography and Art Feature screens