Apple recently confirmed that Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro are coming to the iPad. Hitting the App Store on 23rd May, this news should silence the critics who have long called for Apple to release their own pro apps on the iPad.
I’m one of those critics – one of the noisiest, and, arguably, most irritating. The pace of the iPad’s hardware development and the seeming lack of desire for Apple’s pro app teams to do anything with it has always frustrated me.
Well, I can shut up now, because both Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro are coming to the iPad, and they do look very tasty indeed.
It gets better, though. You may have forgotten that Apple went as far as putting the M1 chip into the fifth-generation iPad Air – a move which completely flummoxed yours truly. A bizarre advertising campaign which appeared to suggest that the presence of the M1 in that iPad raised its gaming credentials did nothing to quell my fears that Apple was simply ‘chucking the M1 into everything’ with no real plan.
Think again. Again.
Final Cut Pro on the iPad requires either the M1 or M2 chip, and that means the latest iPad Air is capable of running Apple’s brand-new tablet version of its video editing suite.
iPad Air 5 or 11-inch iPad Pro?
This question is always raised in the comments section of any video I make about the iPad Air. Why buy that device when it is, basically, a slightly hampered version of the 11-inch iPad Pro?
It’s a fair question, but we should also remember that there’s a price difference of around £170 between the two, which is still a lot of money. Spend the extra on the iPad Pro, and you gain an M2 chip, Pro Motion (although no XDR display, unlike the 12.9-inch iPad Pro), Face ID, larger storage options, and a slightly better camera.
Everything else is the same. The iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro are pretty much identical in terms of size and screen estate, and the difference in performance between the M1 and M2 chips barely deserves a mention.
The lack of Pro Motion on the iPad Air is jarring, but only if you regularly compare that display with one featuring Apple’s high refresh rate technology. Which most people don’t.
This makes the 11-inch iPad Pro a tough sell in my book – particularly now that the latest iPad Air is capable of running Final Cut Pro.
The M1 chip finally makes sense
As noted earlier, the presence of the M1 chip in the iPad Air made the least sense to me. During normal, everyday use (and, yes, even during those casual gaming sessions) you’d never spot the difference between the M1 and the A-series chips it replaced. iPads are fast; end of story.
However, as Steve Jobs once noted, you can only join the dots by looking into your past – you cannot join them as you head into the future. This is definitely the case for Apple consumers and industry commentators; we have no idea what’s going to come out of Apple Park next – but we can eventually work out Apple’s intentions.
By placing the M1 chip into the fifth-generation iPad Air and launching Final Cut Pro on the iPad a little over a year later, Apple is putting the power of end-to-end video production in the palm of a much wider audience’s hands. It’s an incredibly smart move.
Final Cut Pro on the iPad Air 5
If you missed the news about Final Cut Pro finally arriving on the iPad, it’s definitely worth having a wander through Apple’s webpage for the app.
Final Cut Pro has been completely reimagined for the iPad, albeit with a very familiar-looking user interface for anyone who has spent considerable time with the Mac version.
Everything from the traditional timeline to the media bin, multicam editing, titles and effects, and even voice isolation has made it to the iPad. These features are joined by some exciting new stuff, too, including the ability to isolate subjects without green screens, auto cropping for content repurposing, ‘Fast Cut’ automation (although it’s still unclear what this means), and support for cinematic mode on the iPhone.
Apple is also clearly touting Final Cut Pro on the iPad as a true end-to-end solution. You can shoot footage on your iPad, insert it directly into the project, and then edit and export without ever leaving Final Cut Pro. You can’t do that on the Mac version and it does mean that your iPad could quickly turn into an amazing production machine.
The fact this will all be available on a non-Pro version of the iPad is wonderful news. It also feels like the combination of a fifth-generation iPad Air and Final Cut Pro could be a killer solution for content creators with budgets that can’t stretch to a DSLR camera, desktop editing suite, and computer on which to edit the footage.
There’s just one thing to bear in mind.
A note on storage
It seems as though the iPad version of Final Cut Pro relies on a self-contained project structure. This basically means that every element of your Final Cut Pro project will reside within the project itself, on the iPad.
If you’re ahead of me, you’ll have already worked out what this means. That’s right – this first version of Final Cut Pro for the iPad isn’t compatible with external storage. This means you’re stuck with whatever space you have available on your iPad. I really don’t like this decision by Apple, but it is what it is – for now, at least.
It’s impossible not to return to the iPad Air versus 11-inch iPad Pro question at this juncture, because the latter does offer far more comprehensive storage options.
The iPad Air starts with a paltry 64GB, while the 11-inch iPad Pro offers five storage options ranging from 128GB to a monstrous 2TB (even these once ludicrous spec decisions on Apple’s part start to make sense now, don’t they?).
A 64GB iPad Air is not a Final Cut Pro editing machine – you’ll chew through that space immediately. This is why I’d only recommend grabbing the 256GB version. Even that might be a stretch, though, given the size of 4K video files, but it’ll at least give you more headroom until Apple (hopefully) adds external drive support to the iPad version of Final Cut Pro.
Lack of external drive support aside (I’ll go into this in more detail soon because it is a frustrating limitation), the iPad Air and its M1 chip is soon to become a whole lot more useful for creative types.
We shouldn’t forget that, as noted earlier, Logic Pro is also making its way to the iPad next week. And while that will run on iPads with lesser chips than the M1, the grunt available within the fifth-generation iPad Air should turn it into quite a performer for music makers, too.
I appreciate that there are still areas of professional creative, development, and scientific work that remain untapped on the iPad, but the launch of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro is a massive step forward. The fact that the latest iPad Air is compatible with both makes it an absolute bargain, in my opinion.