Hands On With Apple’s New Final Cut Pro for iPad

Professional video editing is one of the most resource- and screen-space-demanding tasks computers perform, and with AI features coming to the category, it’s only becoming more so. That’s why it’s remarkable that Apple’s newly released Final Cut Pro app for iPad has managed to produce a highly usable and reasonably full-featured video editing application for a tablet.

The newly designed app requires at least an 11-inch iPad Pro, which makes sense. After all, you need a largish screen just to see what’s going on in the program—the timeline, source panel, preview panel, effects, audio, and so on. I tested the beta of Final Cut Pro for iPad on a 12.9-inch M2 iPad with 2TB storage for a few days. I’m extremely impressed with the app’s usability and power, though some professionals will miss certain features. The app makes video editing comfortable, thanks to an ingenious user interface design that’s more intuitive than most desktop video editing software.

Getting Started With Final Cut on the iPad

When you first launch the Final Cut app on the iPad, you need to pick a subscription. You get a one-month free trial, but you have to choose a $4.99 per month or $49 per year plan. If you bought Final Cut for macOS, you still need to pay this subscription to use the iPad app.

When you first start the app, it offers a sample movie project to help you get going. I’m a big fan of this approach, as opposed to apps that dump you in the deep end without a paddle. The sample (a manageable 400MB download) shows footage from a Lunar New Year celebration.

Demo Project to get started with Final Cut on iPad

(Credit: Apple)

Intuitive Interface

At the top level of the project and media hierarchy, your projects show up in a panel on the left-side panel. Another side panel for account and app options is hideable with a button. When you open the sample project, you see a timeline view that looks remarkably similar to Final Cut Pro on the Mac, with some important differences, most of which make the program easier and clearer to use.

Final Cut Pro on the iPad

(Credit: Apple)

The interface is flexible. You drag up on the top of the timeline to enlarge it or down to push it out of view. You can resize the relative width of the viewer, switch it to full-screen, or…