Photoshop just broke out in a cold sweat. Google Nik is now free. Also, Google Nik is apparently a thing - who knew?. I'm already at peace with the idea that I won't ever know every product developed by Google, but that doesn’t mean I’m not surprised when I find another one. Google Nik is a product aimed at photographers. It’s been a part of the family since 2012 when Google bought the company, Nik, for their popular mobile photo editing app, Snapseed. The app has been free for a long time on the Google Play Store (and in Apple’s App Store), and it’s one of the most powerful and beautiful apps of its kind you can use on an Android phone.In fact, Snapseed’s so good that I prefer it to Adobe Lightroom Mobile, even though I use Lightroom for most of my photo editing on a computer.

Google Nik: the obscure software that brings Snapseed to your computer

Since the purchase, Google Nik has been available on computers for $149, and since yesterday that price has dropped to $0. As the official statement says:

"The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities -- from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images."

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download. The collection includes...
  • Analog Efex Pro
  • Color Efex Pro
  • Silver Efex Pro
  • Viveza
  • HDR Efex Pro
  • Sharpener Pro
  • Dfine
This has been followed by  enthusiastic comments from users, and also some interesting realizations. As one user complains, he “just purchased it for a few days ago and now it's free!!!!! sh*t!” If you’re in the same boat don’t worry, Google will issue a full refund for everybody who purchased the collection in 2016.So, what is Nik? A series of seven plugins that work with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and allow you to edit photos with predefined filters and effects. Basically, think about it like the PC version of Snapseed. Here’s how the popup looks like in Photoshop:nik in actionYou can choose one of the seven plugins that Nik hosts and instantly edit your pictures. Each plugin and each effect are created as a separate layer in Photoshop, making it easy to see the before and after of your edits.

What's Next: Easier photo editing and a Photoshop rival in sight

This move sparked a lot of interest among photographers, both professional and amateurs, and it raises the question if Google is planning something more.My guess is that this is just the first step and Google's laying the groundwork towards building software more than capable of rivaling Photoshop.The road ahead is not easy, though. Not only do they have to compete with the Adobe series of programs, but others have been thoroughly entrenched in the market for years now - free apps like Gimp, and more recently Autodesk's Pixlr have carved their share of the user base.But if Google has taught us anything with their recent development of Snapseed, it's that they have a clear goal in mind when it comes to photo editing.Which app do you use on your phone to edit pictures? Would you like to see a Snapseed version for the computer?Image credit:

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