Is something finally cooking in the SwankoLab?

SwankoLab update coming soon?



If you’re not familiar with SwankoLab, it’s a “handheld darkroom kit” for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch as only the Hipstamatic folks can do. It features a darkroom-type user interface, complete with “developer”, “fix”, and other “chemistry.” Made by the same developers of Hipstamatic, it’s possible to get many of that app’s early effects using SwankoLab.

But SwankoLab hasn’t been updated since version 1.1 back on October 6, 2010 — over 100 weeks ago. Do recent rumblings on SwankoLab’s Facebook page mean that the long-awaited update might finally be happening?

One of the bigger complaints about Hipstamatic is its lack of ability to import images to process. SwankoLab was created as a way to address that issue (sort of). It allows to you mix and match “chemistry” to recreate some of Hipstamatic’s classic looks as well as create unique combinations.

Like Hipstamatic, it comes nicely stocked with effects in its standard configuration. Since its introduction, you’ve been able to purchase the Uncl Stu’s Supply Catalog. It includes nine additional darkroom chemicals for a one-time subscription fee of $1.99. The purchase was supposed to add more effects to the subscription with each update, included free for all subscribers. Since plunking down my $1.99, there have been only two updates to the app and only one new chemical.

After trimming staff recently and promising to “refocus”, SwankoLab may finally be getting the attention it deserves. It the past few weeks, the SwankoLab Facebook page has gotten three new cover photos, including the teaser shown above.

It looks like from a recent post in SwankoLab’s help forums that a new version is at least in beta.

AllanB (Community Support Ambassador) writes:
I accidentally posted pictures of the wrong version of SwankoLab. Sorry for any confusion!! I’ve got a test copy on my phone and didn’t mean to confuse you with pictures of a different version.

When asked when the new version should be out, the answer was “Not sure of the date yet, but it should be soon. :)” It looks like the app is getting a Hipstamatic-style shopping cart. No other details were given.

SwankoLab currently saves images up to 7 MP — that’s 3055×2291 px. That’s still pretty good, but I suspect one of the first things to look for in an update is full 8 MP device resolution support.

I’m looking forward to a new SwankoLab update. I think it’ll happen sooner rather than whenever. Here’s hoping Uncle Stu is cooking up something worth the wait.

The app is currently $1.99. This version is still old iPhone friendly and will run on any iPhone using iOS 3.0 or newer. If you’re still shooting with an old 3G, grab this one now. I suspect old iPhone support goes away in a new update as well.

SwankoLab - Hipstamatic, LLC



About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
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.
  • Rob

    A Hipstamatic-style shopping cart for SwankoLab? Weren't they selling lifetime updates? I wonder if this will be another D Series way of getting customers to pay again for something they already bought.

    • @smlombardi

      I would pay for new packages. Why not? Developers need to offset the costs of development. As long as it's not egregious (like their "disposable") and I get value for my 99 cents, I am happy to support iOS development.

      • Rob

        So, you're saying it's ok for developers to sell an option for Lifetime Upgrades and then decide they no longer want to honor that? What other commitments is it ok for developers to not honor once they've sold?

        I'm not against in-app purchases. I've bought every pak for Hipstamatic except for the cases-only pak.

        Synthetic is a shady developer. Hipstamatic was, and still is, an excellent app. But ever since it made them rich, they've been trying to find shady schemes for making easy money. D Series was Dishonest, with its needlessly expiring in app purchases to get users to buy the same "cameras" multiple times. And SwankoLab, with its lifetime update subscriptions they kept selling long after they abandoned the app. Shady.

        All I'm asking for is quality apps and fair pricing. If they're not going to honor their lifetime subscriptions now that they're developing the app again, they shouldn't have been so eager to sell them when they'd abandoned the app.

        I love Hipstamatic, but I don't have much respect left for Synthetic.

    • Miki

      While I agree with developers should be paid for their time, I am really peeved that Synthetic hung its customers out to dry with its deceptive advertising. The in-app purchase said "lifetime subscription for future updates" and there has been only one update since 2010.

      I would probably pay for new packages, sadly, because Synthetic does put out quality work when they feel like it…but I would leave a less than glowing review at having my money taken from me for not getting value out of my previous subscription. I am happy to support iOS development, but only when there is actual development taking place. Sythentic can't just pretend like nothing happened and start over with "Oh this is the *new* subscription!"

  • Geoff White

    2nd that one Rob.

  • Suzé

    I'm going to jump in here as SwankoLab is one of my favorite apps. I've been bored with some of the latest offerings from Hipstamatic with lenses and film, but SL gives me effects that I literally cannot achieve with any other app in the AppStore. That said, I have to agree with Rob. Considering the adoring masses (myself included) purchased SL and the lifetime updates, and there hasn't been one for a couple of years, I've been vocal about it with my reviews in the AppStore and various podcasts. it really ticked me off that Synthetic left SL in the dust for a lot of users.
    I prefer this app over Hipstamatic. I'm am getting really sick of being nickled and dimed to death by a lot of app developers, not just Synthetic, with continuous IAP. Many of us have absolutely no problem buying apps that are a buck or two(or in some cases more) but then to have to pay a buck or two more to unlock new features, is getting expensive and tiring. Just freakin' charge a fair price for the app from the onset. If its a quality app, I'll pay it! But enough already with the constant IAP!!
    If Synthetic recharges for SL upgrades, I will be furious. I appreciate the time they've put in developing their apps but they have made millions. They have swanky new digs that their customers have helped paid for. I think they need to appease their customer base with SL. They should have never conceded to offer "lifetime" upgrades if they were not planning to do it.
    That is very deceptive advertising. But we'll see what happens. I'm hoping for the best.

  • iClifDotMe

    There is a full page SwankoLab ad in the new Snap magazine by Hipstamatic that pretty much says an update is coming.

  • Steven Bron

    Update is now available!

    • Steven Bron

      Mmm, there seems to be something weird with the update. Previously purchased ingredients still show up in the internal store as 'mine' but can't be chosen anymore as part of a new formula.