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Oh boy, this one is going to upset a few photographers. Google have slyly “announced” that they are about to cease updating the Nik Collection of software. Actually, it wasn't so much an announcement as the simple adding of a banner on the Nik Collection site that added, “We have no plans to update the Collection or add new features over time.”
If you're not already familiar with the software, the Nik Collection is a collection of software available as plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom etc that adds the ability to use some very slick effects such as better sharpening, HDR, some monochrome effects etc. It's actually quite handy and is a big part of the work flow for a lot of photographers.
The Nik Collection was started by a company that was acquired by Google in 2012. The product then went from being almost a $500 product to being a $149 product and then to being totally free in 2016 and its popularity exploded. Of course, the very popular app, Snapseed, was also acquired in that 2012 deal and it goes from strength to strength and was obviously a big part of Google's decision to purchase the company. “Mobile first” and all that.
At the time of the change from paid to free, Google even gave us a taste of the future with it's announcement – “As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we've decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.”
This latest (non?) announcement regarding the ending of support for Nik software is going to leave a lot of very disappointed photographers, but highlights on ongoing issue for folks who adopt and rely on third party software as part of their post-production workflow. The sad fact is that a lot of third party plugins get discontinued for one reason or another leading to photographers having to make alternative plans with different plugins, remain on older versions of the parent software (in this case Photoshop and Lightroom), or simply abandon the plugins. Not really a good set of choices.
On the bright side, Google hasn't said it is retiring the Nik collection, so hopefully it will still be available for download indefinitely.