Halide gets a major update with upgraded RAW processing and new pricing

Halide has launched a new version of its popular iPhone camera app, now dubbed Halide Mark II, and it comes with a lot of new features. Those include a redesign, upgraded RAW processing, and a new pricing model.

Halide says Mark II features a “bottom-up redesign” with the goal of staying out of your way. All of the photo controls should now be within your thumb’s reach, no matter what model of iPhone you’re using the app with. There’s a new typeface, and even the preview of the last shot you took that sits in the bottom-left corner of your screen matches the curvature of your iPhone’s screen. It’s all meant to feel familiar to people who use Apple’s default camera every day — but as always, Halide packs in a ton of advanced photography tricks.

The new Mark II version of the app can now capture both RAW and the iPhone’s computationally processed photos at the same time through a feature Halide calls Coverage. Most photo filter and social media apps don’t accept RAW images, but the benefit of RAW is that you get a photo without any processing applied that you can edit later. The benefit of Coverage means you get two images when you take one photo — one you can post right away, and one you can edit later. Coverage will be off by default, however.

Mark II also gains a new Instant RAW feature, which “intelligently” develops a single RAW image through a 17-step process without you having to adjust sliders or levels yourself. “Instant RAW can work as a midpoint between a completely unedited RAW and a totally processed JPEG,” Halide said in today’s announcement blog. The company said an Instant RAW image will look different than the JPG you might get from an image with Apple’s Smart HDR processing applied. Halide’s processing approach was modeled after how film photography develops, the company says. (You can still send your RAW images to other apps like Darkroom for more thorough editing if you want.)

Halide says Mark II is also “ProRAW ready,” which means it should support the new format when Apple releases it later this year for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Halide is also introducing a 10-day course in the app to help people learn more about photography via the features in the app and by explaining photographic concepts. The course is intended for “new and experienced users alike,” according to the blog.

All of these changes come with a shift in pricing, however. The original version of Halide was a one-time paid app, but now, there are a few different ways you can pay for it.

If you’ve already paid for Halide, you get Mark II for free as well as a year-long subscription with all of the perks that includes. (A bit more on that later.) If you previously paid for the app and tried to upgrade to Mark II earlier today but were seeing a prompt to pay, check again. Halide said this was due to a bug, and an update to fix the issue is rolling out now.

If you’re a new Halide user, you have a couple of options. You can pay once for the app, which costs $30 at launch and $36 at some point in the future. Halide says it plans to raise that one-time price as new features are added to the app.

Halide is also offering subscriptions, which the company calls “memberships.” At launch, you can pay $9.99 for a year of access to the app’s features. That price will go up to $11.99 “in the near future.”

Halide expects it will up that subscription price eventually as well but says you’ll keep whatever price you first paid if you decide to pay for another year of membership down the line. Memberships will have “perks above and beyond the core Halide experience,” which includes special app icons. But if you just want to kick the tires on the new app before paying, it’s now free to download with a one-week free trial.

Overall, it seems like a pretty meaty update for Halide fans, and the educational tools seem helpful for those of us who have wanted to try more advanced mobile photography but haven’t known where to start. Halide Mark II is available now on the App Store as an update to the original app.