Last Friday (yeah, I know – I’m not exactly BBC News, am I?), a tweet from Majin Bu suggested that “Apple is working on a version of Final Cut for the iPad”.

Bu goes on to say that “it’s not on par with the Pro” due to the inability to manage plugins locally. There is also, apparently, “no upcoming launch” for what appears to be a management tool for Final Cut Pro projects that are saved in iCloud.

The accompanying photo on Bu’s tweet appears to show an app icon labelled ‘Final Cut Cloud’.

I have so many questions. I also have no idea who Majin Bu is, and consequently how useful this rumour is. Regardless, if Apple is working on a version of Final Cut for the iPad, I’m both excited and nervous.

Because they could really screw this up.

Here’s what they need to do.

Avoid the temptation to water down the feature set

The reference to Final Cut’s ‘Pro’ moniker in Bu’s tweet bothers me. If Apple really is going to strip the iPadOS version of its video editing suite of features it only deems appropriate for the Mac, they might as well stop now.

I want a full fat, unfiltered, pedal-to-the-metal version of Final Cut Pro on the iPad. Otherwise, it’s of absolutely no use to me (or, I’d guess, most other pros).

I’ve made my feelings about the presence of the M1 chip in the iPad clear. Until Apple does something meaningful with both iPadOS and its professional apps, the M1 in the iPad Air and iPad Pro is an utter waste of time.

This is Apple’s chance to give us a professional app that would enable video editors like myself to switch seamlessly from the Mac to a platform with touchscreen support and true take-it-to-the-coffee-shop portability.

If the iPad version of Final Cut is feature deficient, it is a non-starter.

A total seamless method for syncing libraries

Final Cut Pro is dreadfully inefficient when it comes to its libraries. Honestly – they grow to ludicrous sizes. You can easily send a library file into the terabytes for a 4K project if you dare explore beyond 30 minutes of footage.

This ain’t gonna work in a cloud environment, obviously. Clearly, Apple is going to have to either redesign the way in which libraries are created and maintained – or rely on some form of proxy-based file sync on iCloud.

I don’t really care how they do it, but I deeply love the idea of being able to start an edit on my MacBook Pro and then grab the iPad Pro so I can finish it at a coffee shop before my gym session. That process needs to be completely seamless, and I can’t fathom how it’s going to work with the current state of Final Cut Pro libraries.

FULL exploitation of the M1 chip

I can’t stress this enough, so I’m going to give it a separate heading and ramble on about it again.

I want to see the M1 chip sing on the iPads into which it has been inserted. Enough is enough – there has been too much chest-beating, marketing waffle, and Intel bullying; what can that thing do when really put to the task?

Final Cut Pro is capable of really hitting Macs hard, and it needs to do the same on the iPad if it’s to be the truly brilliant mobile video editing rig it’s capable of becoming.

Shared resourcing

I have my podcast co-host, Rob, to thank for this.

Ever since the M1 was placed into an iPad Pro, he’s painted a picture of a future where the Mac and iPad can share their resources. Just imagine a unified architecture, married by Apple silicon and Apple’s ecosystem (which already enables such wonderful features like Universal Control and Handoff). Sounds exciting, right?

For Final Cut Pro, this could result in the ability for the iPad to do some of the heavy lifting in terms of background rendering, or exporting, while the Mac gets down to the creative stuff (or vice-versa). But there’s far more to it than that. By splitting tasks and processes between devices and operating systems, the creative process could become completely free of the hurdles so many of us have to clear during editing sessions.

I love this idea. And while I’m not as smart as Rob when it comes to dreaming up exactly how it would work in practice, I totally understand the benefits and opportunities it would present for creative endeavours.

Full support for third-party plugins

The iPad version of Final Cut needs to support the wonderful array of third-party plugins that are on the market today. If it doesn’t, it is a non-starter, I’m afraid.

I rely on third-party plugins for every single video I publish on YouTube, and the inability to access or modify them on the iPad would make it entirely useless.

I can’t fathom why Apple wouldn’t allow this, unless it pertains to security concerns – which would be shortsighted. Equally, if they implement needlessly restrictive policies for said third-party plugins, you can bet your bottom dollar that most developers just won’t bother porting their stuff.

No silly pricing

I’d like to see the iPad version of Final Cut bundled with the Mac version; there should be no extra fee to gain access.

Separate pricing for anyone who wants to go iPad-only would make sense, but I also think there should be a free version for students and kids. I have no idea how that would be administered, but if it came under the pretence of an ‘educational’ license, it would open up Final Cut to a huge audience of future filmmakers and creators.

Is it really going to happen?

I think it is; we are going to see Final Cut in some form on the iPad. Possibly this year. If that does happen, my guess is that there’ll be a preview of some kind at WWDC in June, and a full launch later this year.

I just desperately want Apple to take this project seriously. If it’s watered down, or restricted in any way, it won’t unleash the true power of the iPad for people like me.

We already have iMovie, Tim. Now let’s see what your team can really do with mobile video editing.