Affinity V2 Shows That Great App Suites Don’t Have to Be Never-Ending Subscriptions

Pay once, use forever

  • Serif’s Affinity 2 is a suite of alternatives to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.
  • You pay once, and that’s it—no recurring subscriptions.
  • Apple’s App Store makes it hard to make this pricing model work.
Affinity V2 on iPad, MacBook, and PC


The biggest news about Serif's Affinity 2 Suite update isn't its image-editing features but its total lack of subscription payments.

Affinity 2 is an alternative to Adobe's Creative Cloud. It offers apps for photo editing, publishing, graphic design, and illustration, available across macOS, iPadOS, and Windows. Version 2 is a big redesign, adding some impressive new features, but the one that has everyone talking is the price. You pay $99.99 once and can use the app across all those platforms forever. Not $99.99 per month or per year, but just once.

"The Affinity apps are great. For example, YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters, any type of content creator would be better off using the Affinity apps to design thumbnails and headers for their content because it'll save them so much money, and they will never miss those advanced design features in the Adobe apps," graphic designer Nick Saporito told Lifewire via email. 

Good Enough

Like the original Affinity suite, version 2 is a suite of interconnected apps. You can edit a photo in one app, then drop it into your publishing apps, for example. Or you can use a raw image file as a single element of a larger composite image, and that raw camera file will remain "live," so you can drop back in and tweak the edits as needed. 

We won't be going into all the details of the new apps here—for that, you can check out this great App Store feature from Apple—but overall, it is impressive and is more than enough for most people. From the level of care in the user interface to the fact that you can use the same apps on any of your devices, desktop, laptop, or mobile, it offers absurd value for money. 

But it's not for everyone. If you already use Photoshop or Illustrator and have a fleet of macros, or plugins, that rewire it, then you won't be skipping out any time soon. And as you'd expect, there are some features that are not shared between rival suites. 

"As great as the Affinity apps are, they still don't have all of the bells and whistles that the Adobe suite has," says Saporito. "For example, Affinity Designer still doesn't have certain advanced features, such as Vector image tracing, mesh gradients, 3D tools, and the blend tool." 

But for most people, even professional designers and photographers, Affinity is more than enough, especially when we consider the price. 

Subscription Fatigue

App subscriptions are great… for some apps. Small indie developers can keep working on apps because they can generate a steady income, so users benefit from long-term support and new features. It also makes sense for apps that incur costs; the developer of a weather app, for example, has to pay for weather data, so that should be passed on to the user.

But subscription fatigue is a real problem. Who wants to pay $10 per month just for a fancy notes app? Especially if you lose access to your notes when you stop paying.

"The thing I hate about subscription pricing is that if I stop paying the subscription, my software stops working. At least with this model, you neither need to pay for the upgrade nor keep paying for your current software to work. What you originally bought is yours for however long you want," subscription software skeptic Bri said in an internet blog comment.

Affinity V2 on MacBook


It used to be that you would buy an app, keep using it, and that was it. When a significant new version shipped, you could stick with the version you had or choose to pay an upgrade fee. It’s not an ideal model because developers have to hoard new features, saving them up to make major releases more appealing. With subscriptions, they can release them when ready and also spend more time working on behind-the-scenes upgrades like stability and bug fixes.

Part of the problem here is Apple. There’s no way to update pricing. It’s either a one-off or a subscription. There are some exceptions, but things get complicated, fast.

Serif uses the paid upgrade model for Affinity, and right now, with Adobe products almost impossible to use without a subscription, it’s an excellent selling point. And for non-pro users, there’s an even cheaper option: you can, for example, grab the iPad-only version of a single app for just $15.

Congrats, you just saved another $85.

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