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Home » News, Opinion

An open letter from Brad Malcolm, President, Athentech Imaging

Submitted by on September 3, 2010 – 12:49 am

Athentech Perfeclty Clear for iPhoneI was asked to post this email from Brad Malcolm, the President of Athentech, the developers of Perfectly Clear. I have posted it in its entirety, but first, I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts on this update.

Perfectly Clear has been one of my primary go-to apps for a while. It’s one of the apps that I recommend most to new iPhoneographers. It’s an essential app for the early iPhone 2G and 3G models and I still use it to improve images on my iPhone 4.

I was really excited when the new update was released. I’d met Brad Malcolm back in February and we’d talked about their great new noise reduction component. Brad’s a good guy. He’s knowledgeable about the product and the concepts behind it. He takes feedback very seriously. He’s aware of his competition and he genuinely wants Perfectly Clear to be the best line of apps in their class.

Like most of the community, I was very disappointed at first with the new 2.0 update as it crashed repeatedly on both my old 2G as well as my iPhone 4. Glyn Evans from the iPhoneography blog and I texted back and forth all afternoon Tuesday about this update and I’m relieved that we found a workaround for users running iOS 4.0.2.

While I understand and share the frustration of the bugginess of this update — many of the images I want to denoise are still on my 2G — I disagree with some of the other backlash throughout the community about this update, mainly regarding the $1.99 in-app purchase of the noise reduction component.

I don’t understand the backlash for the in-app purchase the noise reduction component of Perfectly Clear. It’s a completely optional feature. Other than the crashes, the 2.0 update is an improvement over the previous version when you compare the features. No existing features were removed. The default sharpness has been dialed back to a more reasonable level and the sharpening algorithm has been improved overall. The ability to create your own defaults (and easily restore default presets) is a great new feature. Even without the noise reduction, this update adds functionality value to Perfectly Clear. When the stability of the app is restored (and Athentech is working on it), Perfectly Clear will still be a highly recommended app by me and this blog.

The $1.99 in-app purchase? I understand it. It’s a pretty significant new feature that involved in investment in time and money from Athentech. They could have released it as a separate app for $1.99 and probably done somewhat well with it. Instead, they chose the convenience of rolling it into their flagship app. Although I would prefer it to be free, I understand the need for a developer to recoup an investment for a significant new added feature like this one.

Personally, I don’t mind how it’s implemented. Unlike other apps I’ve purchased, this feature doesn’t sit there on my screen nagging me — completely useless and taking up screen real estate until unlocked. The noise reduction feature is completely hidden until it’s unlocked. Even the ads for the company’s other products are hidden.

I’m probably in the minority, but I didn’t have a problem dropping another two bucks for the in-app purchase if the noise reduction was good enough and worth it. Again, my problem with this update — shared by many — is the frustration of the bugginess of this previously rock-solid app.

Should this update have been released? I don’t think so — not without testing on all devices it can run on and especially the older iPhones that benefit most from the app. I think they made a mistake releasing Perfectly Clear in the state it’s in against the advice of some of their beta testers. Your anger and frustration there is justified.

However, I think the backlash regarding the in-app purchase of the noise reduction component is misplaced. It’s like buying the latest HipstaPaks in Hipstamatic. Both apps are fully functional without spending extra for the upgrades.

Full disclosure — I not only bought Perfectly Clear for $2.99 a while back, I have also gifted the app as well. I purchased the $1.99 in-app upgrade within minutes of version 2.0’s release to the App Store. I didn’t use free promo codes to buy anything from Athentech. They do not advertise on Life In LoFi, and they have never given us any promo codes as giveaways. I just like the app and I like the company.

My MacBook is now encased in asbestos. Feel free to discuss or disagree in the comments below.

Here is Brad’s letter.

—-

Thank you for your continued interest in Perfectly Clear and thanks for your feedback on version 2.0.  It has been brought to our attention that our app is crashing for many of you when saving photos.

We did actually perform extensive testing on iPhones 3, 3G, and one iPhone 4 (we were only able to acquire one in Canada 4 days ago!) and also iPod touches with various operating systems, all with good results.  Unfortunately testing devices aren’t always representative of real life devices, and the Apple process of testing adhoc builds is certainly not perfect.  In addition Apple is continually releasing new OS versions and stopping support and simulation for developers of older Operating Systems, which further complicates matters.  This is why our testing, and also that of other Companies that you’ve mentioned, aren’t always able to catch all the bugs before releasing live.

Perfectly Clear delivers a very powerful result, which is of course why you purchased it.  We are able to produce such a powerful result because of our patented and unique science.  The flip side of this equation is that Perfectly Clear is very memory intensive, and the Apple OS forces apps to shut-down when a memory spike occurs.  This happens when you are saving full resolution images.  This problem is compounded on older devices (iPhone 3 for example) that have less memory, especially if they are running the latest OS (version 4.x) which utilizes more memory.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and we are working hard on trying to fix this.  It is our goal for your Perfectly Clear app to perform Perfectly once again while delivering the high quality that you expect and deserve.

Some of you also asked why we don’t support the higher resolution graphics on iPhone 4.  We actually do include special graphics for the iPhone 4 – this is why our build is now double the size as it was before.

With respect to our noise removal, we have partnered with Stoik Imaging.  Both our testing and independent testing by several of our large licensing customers confirmed that the Stoik noise removal is the most powerful and effective noise removal in the market today.  We have also worked with many professional photographers for our Photoshop Plug-in and they love what this noise removal does for their photos and how it is superior to what they can do in both Photoshop and Lightroom.  As a result and after reviewing the other offerings available for the iPhone, we decided to offer this as an optional feature to you.  We are charging for it because we want our partner Stoik to make some money from it so they can continue to advance it to ensure your pictures can look their best.  We are not charging the same price as our app itself ($2.99 USD) – but rather less then a cup of coffee at $1.99.  I am surprised that a few of you mentioned you are not seeing any difference with it on – please feel free to contact me or send me the example photos at support@athentech.com and I’ll be happy to be of assistance.

Lastly, there seems to be some confusion on the new features of version 2.0.  We are NOT charging for the smarter sharpening, the sharing abilities (Facebook, Twitter, email), custom preset, or the auto save of your original photo.  These are free upgrades to all current customers and were ideas from you.  The only extra, and optional, charge, is for noise removal.

Thanks for your patience and understanding, and as always, I welcome your feedback.

Brad Malcolm
President
Athentech Imaging

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Marty Yawnick

Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.