Could this be a plot twist in Act Three? While we were all watching Facebook’s attempts to take on newly-public Snapchat, Apple was building its own app that could challenge the social media darling, albeit in a more roundabout way.
Today, Apple announced the coming of Clips, an app that leverages the company’s voice recognition and video editing smarts to make it easy for users to create shareable little videos. And although the app doesn’t directly compete with Snapchat, it could help bolster the attempts of Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram to compete with the ephemeral chat app.
Clips allows users to combine video snippets, photos, and music to create content tailor-made for social networks and communication tools, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and of course, Apple Messages. Like Snapchat, users can add filters, effects, emojis, and stickers.
But the most novel and interesting thing about Clips is a feature called Live Titles. It uses speech-to-text technology to create animated captions when a user speaks while recording in the app. The captions sync with the recording and appear as the subject of the video speaks each word. If for example, you wanted to make a video demonstrating how to make a grilled cheese, you could narrate the steps and have them display on as animated captions while showing off your chef skills.
These animated captions aren’t new — you’ll often see them on videos from viral content producers like BuzzFeed — but Clips allows ordinary people to create similar content without elaborate editing. Animated captions are particularly useful for getting engagement on Facebook or Instagram, where users often scroll through their timeline without playing the sound on videos.
The app also includes a library of music clips that automatically adjust to fit the length of a video when added. In short, the app is perfect for amateur YouTube or Instagram stars.
The Clips announcement is part of a news dump from Apple today that includes dropping the price of its 9.7 inch iPad to $329, updating the tablet’s processor and Retina display, and rolling out new crimson-colored iPhones. The special edition red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is part of a 10-year partnership between Apple and (RED), a non-profit dedicated to fighting the spread of AIDS. The red phones are available March 24 starting at $749 but it’s not clear how much of the proceeds will go toward AIDS research.
As for Clips, it will be available on iOS for free beginning in April. The app is compatible with the iPhone 5s and later models, the upgraded iPad, and all iPad Air and iPad Pro models.