The Apple Clips video app is finally getting its most-requested feature: different aspect ratios. With the 3.0 update rolling out today, Clips can record in 16:9, 4:3, and square — and do all three of those in either vertical or landscape orientations on both iPhones and iPads.
It’s a long-overdue feature for Apple’s clever little unsung video creation app, which until today only shot and exported in square. That might have made sense when it was first released three years ago, but it meant Clips couldn’t really participate in the rise of vertical video story formats in apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.
The new version of Clips also has a refined interface. Where before you would have to open up an effects pane and swipe horizontally through seemingly endless options, now that horizontal list can be swiped up for a full-screen view of all of the filters, stickers, emoji, or other effects you might want to add.
Apple has put in a bunch of new assets you can use on your videos. There are title “posters” that you can insert into the videos, more royalty-free songs, more stickers, and more speech bubble shapes.
Clips now records and exports in Apple’s implementation of Dolby Vision HDR if you shoot with the rear camera on an iPhone 12. Apple has also redesigned the share sheet for Clips. It can still export directly to social apps, but Apple is adding in a video preview and a separate button for exporting the project file if you want to send it to somebody else for editing.
If you shoot or import both landscape and vertical videos, Clips will letterbox one or the other by default. If there are more vertical than landscape clips in your project, it will export a vertical video (and vice versa for landscape).
At its core, Clips is still what it was at the beginning: a very clever way to quickly string together short videos into a little shareable movie. Unlike the stories format or TikToks, Clips doesn’t have a built-in social network for sharing and viewing those videos — they’re meant to be exported.
Although it has some AR effects like attaching speech bubbles to a face, it’s just a little more traditional than other short-form video apps. In that sense Clips still feels a little like a modern version of the heyday of iMovie.
Clips still retains its best feature: the ability to live transcribe speech to create live captions directly in the video. The included music tracks still automatically customize themselves to the length of a video. It still syncs between your iOS devices via iCloud, and they can be shot or edited on the iPad as well. The iPad interface has also been improved — it supports the Apple Pencil “scribble” feature for entering text, but unfortunately you can’t draw directly on videos yet.
To me, Clips is still an earnestly wholesome app — it’s very much in Apple’s aesthetic. Apple still points out that it’s popular in educational contexts. It’s a way for kids to create videos that look and feel like the videos they’re likely watching on social networks but inside whatever safer bubble their classroom has for them.
The 3.0 version of Clips should be rolling out today.