Comment: Clips seems to have missed the mark for now, but probably not for long

The Clips app that Apple announced back in March and launched in April doesn’t exactly seem to have set the world on fire.

Apple’s description made it seem simple and fun to use:

Clips is a new app for making fun videos to share with friends, family, and the world. With a few taps you can create and send a video message or tell a quick story with animated text, graphics and emoji, music, and more.

The reviews, however, disagreed …

It was described as confusing, complex and lacking a clear purpose. Some suggested that Apple could have more usefully just added the stickers and filters to the Camera app.

My colleague Michael Potuck understood why the app could give an impression of complexity, but said it didn’t actually take that long to learn.

After trying out Clips myself I understand where a lot of the sentiment is coming from about a more nuanced UI and it being somewhat more complicated than Snapchat and Instagram. However, it didn’t take me too long to feel mostly comfortable using the app.

Jeff Benjamin, who knows more than most about video editing, said that it was surprisingly capable once you’d climbed the ‘slight learning curve.’ His video walkthrough (below) covers everything you need to use the app.

But I have to say that I don’t actually know anyone in the real world who uses the app, and I haven’t seen anything created with it shared on social media. Clips so far appears to have largely disappeared without trace.

Partly, of course, that’s because it hasn’t been a preinstalled app until recently on newer devices, so many won’t even know that it exists. But there are likely a couple of additional factors.

That learning curve is one – especially when compared to the competition. It may well be the case that a little time spent learning to use it will pay off, but when apps like Facebook and Snapchat do a similar job with less effort, many simply won’t bother.

There’s also the fact that it’s not embedded into a social app: you have to load up the app, create your video and then share it on social media as a separate step. But maybe we should be grateful for that fact: as one Redditor wryly observed, Apple should perhaps be given credit for resisting the temptation to build some kind of ‘stories’ functionality into iMessage …

Can we all give Apple some praise for not adding “stories” to iMessage?! Because that is something they very much could’ve done. Maybe I shouldn’t have even spoken about such an idea out loud.

Others were quick to agree.

Mods in the name of all that is holy please disappear this post.

Before Eddy Cue sees it!

If this happens I will look back and always remember you for giving them the idea.

iOS needs a universal setting that says “I am over 18.”

But while I’ll probably continue to tick the ‘officially old, please don’t offer me emoji or stickers’ box, I do think Apple could popularize the Clips app in two ways. First, and most obviously, make it a stock app. That way, everyone will be aware that it exists and be far more tempted to play with it. Update: Apple tells me it is doing this with new devices.

But the thing that would really bring it to life would be augmented reality features. Instead of static stickers and emoji, and the short-lived novelty of captions, offer people the opportunity to interact on-screen with virtual elements. 3D objects, cartoon characters, you name it.

Our suspicion is that Apple plans to do just that. It’s already clear that the iPhone 8/Pro/whatever launch is going to have a major AR angle, and in this brave new augmented world, simple stickers and emoji are going to start to feel very old-school. Clips may be too much hassle for too little benefit right now, but add in the excitement of AR features to justify the effort, and it could get very popular, very fast.

Are you using Clips right now? Would you use it if it offer AR functionality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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