Facetune 2 puts a powerful photo editor in your pocket

The original Facetune app made it easy and fast to make your selfies look next-level awesome. Lightricks just released a fully revamped version 2 of Facetune, complete with automatic 3D meshing built in, which makes it possible to have another level of editing prowess at your fingertips.

Facetune 2 is available in the iTunes App store today. It’s probably no match for a professional with Photoshop, a Wacom tablet and hours of time, but that’s an unfair comparison. The vast majority of photos are taken with a mobile phone, edited on-the-fly and shared on social media as quickly as possible. Facetune 2 is the closest you’re going to get to fit a professional photo retoucher in your pocket.

Editing magic

The app scans a photo for a face, which is step one toward a seriously impressive editing suite. By automatically detecting facial features, it becomes possible to enlarge or ensmallen (that’s totally a word) the subject’s eyes, nose or mouth, or even re-shape a whole face. The toolkit also includes tools to remove blemishes and smooth out wrinkles.

Facetune 2's editing tools include remarkably realistic facial editing and the ability to re-light a subject after the fact.

Facetune 2’s editing tools include remarkably realistic facial editing and the ability to re-light a subject after the fact.

The other interesting feature is that the app now includes live editing, which means that edits you make are reflected as you are getting ready to take your photo. Think a magic mirror of photography of sorts. I can’t quite make up my mind whether this is a gimmick or a useful feature, but from a technical standpoint, it’s incredibly impressive.

Speaking of impressive, the app also creates a live 3D mesh of your face based on a single photograph. This means that the app is able to do edits that other apps can’t touch. For example, it can create remarkably realistic lighting effects (i.e. change the direction of the light in the picture).

New business model

Another interesting novelty is the company’s business model. You can pay to download each individual editing feature of the app, but if you do, you’re racking up a hefty $45 bill from Apple. Obviously, the pricing is not optimized for that behavior; instead, the company hopes you’ll pay $1.99 per month, $6.99 six-monthly or $9.99 yearly to unlock all the app’s features. It’s a big departure from the company’s original Facetune app, which costs $5.99 for all the features and shuns in-app purchases. The early reviews of the app are… let’s say tense, with a 2.5-star average rating across its first 200 or so user reviews. The positive reviews wax lyrical about how awesome the app is (and it really is), but the vast majority of the negative reviews are complaining about the new subscription model. To be expected when you make a big change, perhaps — but honestly, for the powerful editing features you get (and the ongoing incentives for the app-maker to keep supporting and improving the app), $1.99 per month is an absolute bargain. Hopefully the 5 million people who downloaded the original app will learn to love the new business model.

Lightricks raised $10 million last year to continue development on Facetune and Enlight. The team tells me they have a ton of other interesting apps up their sleeves, scheduled for release throughout 2017.