The EPIK AI photo app has recently become extremely popular for its ability to generate retro-style AI yearbook photos. With ’90s nostalgia at an all-time high, the AI-powered throwback photos have struck a chord, sending EPIK to the top of the iOS App Store charts.
But while the app itself is free to download, accessing the AI yearbook photos comes at a cost. In this article we explain exactly what you get for free with EPIK and how much the AI yearbook feature costs. We’ll also provide an overview of the main capabilities, discuss privacy implications, and compare some alternative AI photo apps.
An introduction to the EPIK app
The EPIK app was first launched in 2022 by software company Snow, Inc. and quickly gained viral fame on TikTok for its AI Yearbook editor feature. The feature allows users to upload a handful of selfies, which are then used to generate 60 AI-processed photos in a retro ’90s yearbook style.
The AI Yearbook photos portray the user dressed in ’90s fashion, hairstyles and poses, categorized into high school superlative categories such as “Most Likely to Succeed” or “Teacher’s Pet.”
Overall, the app aims to provide a nostalgic walk down memory lane, albeit with AI-hallucinated photos instead of actual yearbook snaps.
Within just a few months, EPIK has amassed over 3 million downloads and #AIYearbook has been viewed over 240 million times on TikTok as users shared their AI creations.
But the app’s recent viral success also led to confusion over whether the main yearbook feature is free or paid. Let’s get the costs straight.
Is the EPIK app free? Breakdown of features
The EPIK app itself can be downloaded completely free from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. So creating an account, uploading photos and accessing the basic editor functions are free of charge.
The catch lies in EPIK’s AI Yearbook feature for generating retro-style photos. Accessing this feature requires an in-app purchase ranging from $5.99 to $9.99.
Here’s an overview of what you can do for free vs. paid:
- Download and install app
- create an account
- Upload selfie photos to app (up to 12)
- Use basic filters and editing tools
Paid Features – AI Yearbook:
- Generate 60 AI-edited photos
- Get access to AI yearbook edits and filters
- Download AI photos
- Choose delivery speed
Essentially, the app itself is a freemium model: free to download, but payment is required to unlock the full AI yearbook experience.
It’s this AI capability that has fueled EPIK’s viral hype, so most users will end up purchasing access. But the app does offer some basic free editing features beyond the AI Yearbook.
AI yearbook fees and purchase options
As mentioned above, the AI Yearbook feature requires an in-app purchase to access the AI-generated photos.
There are two price levels:
- Standard Access – $5.99
60 AI-generated photos delivered within 24 hours
60 AI photos delivered within 2 hours
At the time of writing, both the Standard and Express passes are marked down to $3.99 and $5.99 respectively. It’s unclear whether the discounts are permanent or just for a limited time.
After purchasing, users must select their gender before asking the AI to generate photos from the uploaded selfies.
Once delivered, the photos can be downloaded and shared as the user wishes, without watermarks or EPIK branding.
Key capabilities of EPIK’s AI Yearbook feature
The AI Yearbook feature relies on a range of different algorithms to transform users’ selfies into the retro-fantastic images that have defined the app’s popularity.
Here’s an overview of what you get:
- 60 AI-generated photos – Uploading 8 to 12 photos asks the AI to generate 60 creative variations on different poses, outfits and backgrounds.
- Retro 90s Style – The AI sticks to the retro 90s high school yearbook aesthetic with clothing, hairstyles and effects.
- AI-created backgrounds – Backgrounds are digitally generated rather than sampled from other images.
- High School Superlatives – Photos are divided into different superlatives, such as ‘Teacher Animal’, ‘Most Musical’ etc.
- Up to 4K resolution – Photos can be generated up to high resolution 4K for detailed images. Lower resolutions are also available.
- Facial Recognition and Processing – Proprietary algorithms detect the user’s face and adjust it into different poses and expressions.
- Full Body Generation – The AI generates the entire body, not just close-up faces, for full yearbook-style images.
- Male and Female Options – Users select their gender before generation to ensure clothing styles match accordingly.
- No EPIK branding – Users have full ownership and rights over downloaded images.
- Fast Delivery – Standard 24-hour delivery with 2-hour express options available.
Thanks to this diverse set of capabilities, the AI Yearbook feature creates a highly customized and believable ’90s high school photo experience tailored to each individual user.
Key capabilities of the AI Yearbook feature of the EPIK app
|60 AI-generated photos||Uploading 8-12 photos generates 60 AI variations|
|Retro 90s style||Hairstyles, fashion and effects modeled after 90s yearbooks|
|AI created wallpapers||Digitally generated backgrounds instead of sampled|
|High school superlatives||Photos divided into different superlative categories|
|Up to 4K resolution||Detailed high-resolution images available up to 4K|
|Face recognition||Proprietary algorithms adjust the face into different poses and expressions|
|Whole body generation||Generates full bodies, not just cropped faces|
|Gender options||Select male or female to match the styles|
|No EPIK branding||Users own full rights to downloaded images|
|Fast delivery||Standard 24 hour delivery, with 2 hour express available|
Potential privacy concerns surrounding facial data
However, the app’s viral success has also raised privacy alarm bells around the collection of users’ selfies and facial data.
But some critics argue that the app’s facial data collection could be used to refine facial recognition algorithms or fuel new user monitoring capabilities of EPIK’s parent company Snow. The long-term implications for privacy remain unclear.
Alternatives to EPIK for AI yearbook photos
EPIK may have started the AI yearbook trend, but it’s no longer the only option for getting AI-powered throwback photos. Alternatives include:
AI Photo editor app
This app from Snow is currently at the top of the App Store charts and offers a similar AI Yearbook feature without having to download EPIK. It has the same price of $5.99.
This website allows generating personalized AI avatars with different poses and looks. A free alternative for users who want to test AI yearbook generation.
While not specifically retro-themed, the Remini app can turn selfies into professional portrait photos with AI processing. Popular in the past due to similar viral appeal.
Lensa is known for its ‘magical avatars’ and saw virality earlier in 2022 for AI-generated photos. However, since its peak, interest has waned.
Traditional photo editing apps
Standard photo editing apps let you manually create throwback effects without AI. Less technical, but avoids privacy issues.
The alternatives offer options beyond EPIK, but none have matched the app’s persona and nostalgia-focused viral resonance. For better or worse, it remains the app most closely associated with the AI yearbook trend.
It comes down to
EPIK has exploded in popularity for offering an AI-powered window into an alternate ’90s past through digitally crafted yearbook photos. But the app itself is free – it’s the big AI Yearbook feature that comes at a cost.
Before jumping on the latest viral trend, users should also consider the potential privacy impacts of facial analysis in addition to the fun factor. With the right precautions, AI like EPIK’s can open new creative doors. But digital novelty often comes with hidden costs.
Proceed with caution, limit sharing of personal information, and the EPIK app can provide some harmless retro fun. But caution should be exercised before joining the latest AI-powered social media craze. Where viral apps collect personal data, informed consumer vigilance remains the best medicine.