You Can Finally Use Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro on Your iPad
Every once in a while, Apple really surprises me. Today is one of those times: The company just announced is finally bringing Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro to the iPad, and with it, the tools to produce professional videos and music using a touch-screen device. These are built-for-iPad apps, rather than direct ports of their macOS counterparts, for better or for worse. Let's get into it.
Part of the appeal of both apps is their all-in-one approach. Theoretically, you could create a video or music project using Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro with just your iPad: Use the device to record video to then be edited in FCP, to write music using the on-screen keyboard, to record audio through the internal mic, and to mix it all together in Logic. Sure, bringing in additional equipment will be necessary for higher-quality projects, but it's now theoretically possible to make something, start-to-finish, using only an iPad and one of these apps.
Of course, the secondary appeal is being able to interact with your pro apps with touch, rather than with a keyboard and mouse. You still can use a keyboard, but if you've been dreaming of editing movies and music with your hands, you finally can.
What to expect from Final Cut Pro for iPad
The biggest change editors will need to get used to when firing up Final Cut Pro on their iPads is the "jog wheel," which seems designed to function as a replacement for the scroll wheel on a mouse. By scrolling the jog wheels, you can move through the timeline, adjust clips, and make edits. It will be interesting to see how the jog wheel affects seasoned editors, and whether or not it will speed up workflows.
Another iPad-only Final Cut Pro feature is Apple Pencil support. This is the first time you've been able to interact with a Final Cut timeline with the pencil, which enables you to draw or write on your videos. There's also something called "pro camera mode," which lets you shoot video from your iPad with pro camera controls, including audio levels, recording time, focus, exposure, and white balance. If you have an M2 iPad, you can shoot in ProRes.
Other than that, it seems to be the Final Cut Pro we all know. You have access to editing tools like multicam video editing, graphics, and visual and audio effects. Apple highlights tools like the Scene Removal Mask, which removes the background even without a green screen; Auto Crop, which corrects your video to get the right aspect ratio for your project; Voice Isolation, which removes background noise from your audio.
You can also transfer projects between your iPad and Mac, so you're not tied to one device to do all your editing on.
What to expect from Logic Pro for iPad
To kick things off, Logic Pro for iPad has an all-new sound browser. Will it, you can check out instrument patches, audio patches, plug-in presets, samples, and loops in the sidebar, then audition them to see if they fit your project. If one works, throw it in!
Apple touts the more than 100 instruments and effects plug-ins that ship with Logic Pro. Play instruments directly on the iPad's display, particularly useful for keyboard or drum parts, and mix-and-match instrument sounds to find the one that's right. A new plug-in, called Beat Breaker, lets you use Multi-Touch to change the way things sound. You can use Quick Sampler to completely change a particular sample into a new playable instrument. Create your own drum beats with Step Sequencer and Drum Machine Designer.
One thing I'm particularly excited for is the mixer: It seems too fun to adjust volume faders, adjust pans, and change plug-ins all using a touch screen. It'll be interesting to see if Logic Pro is even more useful with Multi-Touch than Final Cut. Like Final Cut Pro, you can move projects from iPad to Mac, and you can create soundtracks to use in Final Cut on iPad.
Pricing and compatibility: You're gonna need a newer iPad
Unfortunately, you're going to have to pay for both of these apps to use them on iPad, even if you've bought them before. While Apple charges $199 for Logic Pro on macOS and $299 for Final Cut Pro, the iPadOS versions of each are subscription-based, with no option to buy them outright. Apple doesn't offer a free version or even a discount for those who bought the macOS apps, which is disappointing.
That said, the subscription prices aren't too bad. Apple asks for $5 per month per app, or $50 per year. That comes with a one-month free trial for new subscribers, which all of us are at this point. I'd definitely going to give both a try over that first month, then see if I find one or both useful enough to justify paying for. Both apps hit the App Store starting Tuesday, May 23.
It seems Final Cut Pro is the more demanding app, since it has a slightly higher bar for system requirements than Logic Pro. Apple's pro editing app is only available on M1 iPads, while Logic Pro is available on A12 Bionic and newer. It's a bummer, because there are plenty of iPads out there that are powerful enough to not need an upgrade, but which still won't be able to run Final Cut Pro--especially the A12Z iPad Pros.
What isn't clear yet is whether these apps are true to their Mac counterparts, or if they've made any sacrifices on their way to iPadOS. Apple hasn't said much in its press release, so it'll come down to real-world testing to see how they stack up.