Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Releases Clips App

If you were looking forward to Apple’s new Clips app, you’ll be delighted to hear that it’s now available.

Lance Ulanoff of Mashable really likes it:

But apps like Instagram and Snapchat have their limits, especially when it comes to permanence. Even the most beautiful snap will be gone in a day.

Tools, like Apple’s iMovie (the free version that runs on iOS) that offer richer tools and more permeance are inscrutable and lack the sense of fun promised by Instagram and Facebook Stories. Whatever you create might look good but will lack that sense of fun and shareability.

Apple’s new video-creation and sharing platform, Clips, is the near-perfect middle ground.

It’s not a social platform or a full-scale video editing platform, though it shares some of the best attributes of both.

I’ve been playing with it for a few hours now, and I think my initial impressions of the app — before I used it — are largely correct. The titling feature is clever and there are some decent filters, but I don’t find it very compelling yet.

It’s not that the app isn’t good at making short, fun videos; in fact, it’s great at doing that. But it seems like it’s trying to shoehorn an Instagram or Snapchat style of app into Apple’s typical UI conventions. As Ulanoff says, it seems less like a competitor to those apps than it does a trimmed-down version of iMovie. Maybe the market for something like that is large, but I’m not sold on it yet.

There are some silly limitations and quirks within the app, too. You can add emoji over a clip, but it seems to only show the “frequently used” set. Live Titles is a really clever idea, but it’s less accurate than dictation or Siri.

It’s a small thing, but the icon is also disappointing. It’s supposed to be a fun, creative, silly app, so why does the icon make it look like it will be for corporate videoconferencing?

I think this is an app worth experimenting with and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a handful dedicated users. But I’m skeptical of its chances of long-term success against established social apps. After all, if it’s permanence you’re worried about, you can always save your Instagram and Snapchat posts. I’d be more concerned with how likely it is that Apple remains committed to delivering updates — other experimental apps they’ve shipped, like Music Memos and Cards, quickly became neglected after launch. Apps like these are hard to get right, and I don’t think Clips is a hit yet. One day, I think it could be really great, but only if Apple sees it as a long-term commitment.

Update: Though there’s no social network component internal to Clips, the standard Sharing sheet has been enhanced with a row of recent Messages contacts across the top. I’d love to see that in every Sharing sheet.

Update: I’m not trying to be a pessimistic jerk about Clips. I’m just questioning the wisdom of creating a side project app that’s a late adopter of current trends in video, especially considering iMovie hasn’t been updated since July.