Apple updates its Clips video app with fancy selfie backgrounds and iCloud support

Anthony Ha

Apple is releasing version 2.0 of Clips, its free application for easily editing mobile videos.

When the app first launched earlier this year, it was clear that Apple wasn’t trying to replace more sophisticated editing software like FinalCut or iMovie. Instead, it’s trying to offer an easy way to stitch together video segments shot on your phone (you can shoot video directly in the Clips app, or import clips from your camera roll), then add effects and music.

The effects side is getting the most impressive upgrade, with a new feature called Selfie Scenes. With Selfie Scenes, you can shoot a selfie video, but drop out the real-world background and replace it with another environment. Some scenes, might also change the way you look to match the environment, for example by turning you into a hologram aboard the Millennium Falcon.

Sure, sometimes you might want to show off your real-world location, but other times, you’re probably just at your home or in the office or somewhere else not terribly exciting — so why not drop something a little more dynamic into the background?

Apple says it’s launching with 10 Selfie Scenes, including the Millennium Falcon and Mega-Destroyer from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as well as more general urban and nature scenes, and even abstract art.

Selfie Scenes use the TrueDepth camera system on the iPhone X to separate the foreground of a video from the background, so that your body and face are placed into the new environment without any effort on your part. (If you move far enough back, or if someone’s standing far enough you, Clips will just treat you/them as part of the background to be removed.)

And yes, that means the feature is only available to users with an iPhone X. Clips 2.0 does, however, offer other upgrades for everyone else. For one thing, there’s a new style of “artistic” effect, where Clips isn’t just applying a filter, but actually using machine learning to recreate different art styles, turning your video into something more like an oil painting or a charcoal sketch, similar to Prisma.

Apple has also added iCloud integration, so you can not just share videos between multiple devices, but also start a project on one device and complete it on another. (If you’re worried about storage space, pictures and videos that are already in your iCloud library won’t get duplicated.)

On top of all that, Clips features a new design, as well as fresh content, including six new stickers designed by Apple and 21 new royalty-free music tracks (which adapt to the length of your video).

I had a chance to try all of this out in a demo with Apple, where we were able to create fun, high-quality video (at least, I thought it was fun) in just a few minutes. It seems like Apple sees Clips as a way for iPhone owners to create videos that they can share with friends, whether that’s through messaging or social media.

Of course, the company already has something of a viral video sensation on its hands, with users posting karaoke-style singing animoji created on their new iPhone Xs. Sadly, there’s no animoji integration in Clips 2.0 (unless you count the ability to import your animoji footage into the app, just like any other video). Maybe next time.