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Apple's New App Makes Video Editing Stupid Easy

Clips lets you easily caption videos with your voice, add animations, and drop in a soundtrack.

Posted on March 21, 2017, at 8:31 a.m. ET

Apple’s adding another mobile video editor to the mix: Clips. It’s the Goldilocks of Apple’s video editing apps – not too simplistic, but not too complicated either. The free app, set to launch in April, is more customizable than the automatically generated slideshows made by the Photos app’s “Memories” tab, but less complicated than iMovie.

I can see where Clips would be useful. I've taken a gazillion hours of GoPro/iPhone footage that have never seen the light of day, because of the headache of sorting and editing the video. But with its pre-built animations and an easy drag-and-drop timeline, the new app makes vacation/home video creation seem less daunting and more enjoyable.

The app has a simple interface: a big “Hold-to-Record” button, a square-shaped live camera preview in the middle, and a variety of animated elements you can add at the top. Photos and videos can be mixed and matched, and you can capture media live or tap into your photo library to create a video. But there's a big caveat: The videos, which are capped at 60 minutes, *must* be square-shaped.

Here’s how it works:


You can add stylized text, shapes, speech bubbles, and emojis to annotate photos or videos.


All of the text and shapes are easily customizable. You can pinch to increase or decrease the size, drag the element all over the screen, and edit the text. They’re animated too, which gives videos a ~Ken Burns~ polish.

The filters available in the Photos app, like the vintage-inspired “Fade” and a new hyper-stylized comic book–esque filter, are also offered in Clips.


“Live Titles,” which automatically creates captions via speech recognition, is Clips’ most compelling feature.


It turns your video into content that’ll work with or without audio immediately, which is key to captivating people as they thumb through their Facebook or Instagram feeds without headphones in.

You can turn on Live Titles and select your caption style, then press the Hold-To-Record button and the feature will caption your speech, live. It’ll even capture your cadence, like a good karaoke vid. I was only able to try Live Titles in a quiet room with virtually no background noise, but I imagine it’s as accurate as iMessage’s speech-to-text capabilities. When Live Titles inevitably fails, you can edit the video’s text by tapping on the caption.

The final touch is a soundtrack.

You can add purchased music from iTunes or select one of the 40 songs developed just for the app. The tracks are modular compositions, which means that they’ll adjust to the length of your video. You don’t need to worry about fading out music, or cleverly splicing the track so it ends on the right note.

You can share the final video to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, or any other social media platform of your choice — but the video looks best, according to Apple, in iMessage.

The iPhone’s Photos app introduced facial recognition last year and allows you to attach a contact to faces it recognizes. Clips can tap into that facial recognition technology to recommend contacts you should text the video to. It can also detect any names mentioned, so if you say, “Hey Mom” in your video (or something like it), your mom will show up first in the share sheet, so LOOK BEFORE YOU SHARE.

For something you’d just text to someone, using Clips seems a bit…excessive. 🤔 The app does, however, seem like an easy way to create a multi-clip Instagram or Facebook vid of your sick island vacation or your friend’s wedding.

It’s important to note, however, that since the exported video is square-shaped, it’s not at all optimized for Snapchat. Plus, you can only share photos to Snapchat from the iOS share button currently, and only to individuals, not to your Snapchat Story.


I got a preview of the app and was impressed by what little effort it takes to make a crappy video look good. But I imagine that, like iMessage full-screen effects, users will eventually grow tired of Clips’ cookie-cutter add-ons. An Apple rep said that the company plans to make regular updates to content.

The app will be available to devices running iOS 10.3 or higher in April and can be downloaded from the App Store. The company did not provide a specific launch date.

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