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Video Recording and Video Editing App Development: Top Performers

In 2012, the Instagram photo editing app was praised as one of the hottest social platforms of the year. A lot of us thought the story would repeat for top-notch video recording and video editing apps, but that has only partially been true. In this article, we’ll talk about the top performing products on the video editing landscape, and tell you why exactly you have a chance to stand out with your own video recording and editing app.

What are the different types of video recording and editing apps?

We can divide these apps into three general categories:

  1. video recording apps
  2. video editing apps
  3. and apps with a combination of recording and editing functions.

What features might video recording apps offer?

  • Recording video chunks with a 15 or 30 second duration
  • Fast motion – recording a time-lapse video at 10 FPS
  • Slow motion – recording a video at 120 FPS
  • Stop motion – recording very short videos consisting of 2-3 frames.

In short,  video recording apps are only limited by the capabilities of a phone’s camera.  

What features do video editing apps offer?

  1. Merging recorded chunks into a single file.
  2. Special video effects (using different filters and emoticons or text, looping music over video).
  3. Сropping and trimming video for uploading to Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo, and other services.
  4. Special audio effects (adding soundtracks, recorded narration, voice filters).

Unlike video recording apps, video editing applications work on previously recorded videos and apply a variety of different tools to make video footage look like a movie.

How can you develop a video recording and editing app?

There are three main methods that app developers use to make their apps shoot and edit videos:

  1. An app can be developed using native platform tools (for iOS or Android), which means that there is no need for back-end services in this case.
  2. An app can be developed with cross-platform solutions (for example, using HTML5 or C).
  3. An app can rely solely on back-end processes for editing video and processing files.

Each of these approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages. Native solutions can be more expensive to implement for clients and more time consuming for developers, though they tend to provide much better results in the end.

We don’t use cross-platform mobile app development tools at Yalantis, so let’s take a closer look at apps designed for native platforms and apps designed to rely largely on backend technologies. Also check out our article where we discuss native vs cross-platform solutions!

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iOS platform capabilities for building video apps

The AVFoundation native iOS framework provides essential services for working with audio-visual media on iOS. You can implement almost all features a good video editing app needs using this framework.

iMovie, one of Apple’s flagship products, was built with the help of native AVFoundation tools. Some of the app’s best features include video filters, the possibility to add an animated title or soundtrack to a clip, and even 14 trailer templates designed by some of the world’s top film producers.  In the latest version of iMovie users can slow down or speed up clips, and easily extract audio from video clips for independent audio editing.

iMovie video app development

[the iMovie video editing app]

What’s really great about iMovie is that users can store video clips they made with the iMovie app in their photo library or transfer them between different Apple devices via AirDrop or iCloud Drive. After uploading to the cloud, users can finish editing videos using iMovie on their iMac or MacBook.

iMovie is an obvious choice for an iPhone user. This makes the iOS platform a competitive place when it comes to launching another video editing app. Despite the competition, there are apps that manage to stand out on the market.

Splice is another powerful yet minimal video editor developed for iOS devices. It allows users to record video clips, add titles and narrations to their film by recording their own voice, and to synchronise sound effects to match what’s happening on the screen.

Because Splice isn’t overloaded with video editing functionality, it’s great for quick and easy creation of home movies, documenting work projects or creating presentations.

Just like iMovie, Splice provides a number of filters (including filters that imitate different lenses) and sound effects. But unlike iMovie which costs $4,99, Splice comes for free.

How to develop a video editor?

[the Splice video editor]

Android platform capabilities for building video apps

In short, video apps for Android seem to be losing the battle to iOS. Even though the Android platform today features more than 1 million apps, you will still be hard-pressed to find a decent mobile video recording and editing tool on the platform.

Android does not provide any native solutions for video editing. It is possible to go for third-party alternatives, but the end result won’t be very smooth since mobile video solutions for Android will inevitably be slower and less elegant than the one built for iOS because of hardware and software limitations.

In the past, Google tried fixing the “Android video problem” by providing its own Android video editor. It was launched in 2011 for Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but it did not succeed. It was abandoned in 2013.

The absence of native libraries and frameworks supported by Google makes it challenging to create video editing functionality for Android. But there are apps like AndroVid and VivaVideo which edit videos on Android well enough.

AndroVid is a video trimming and video splitting tool that allows users to make an image from a frame in their video, and supports conversion of clips to MP3 audio files. But it also has a confusing user interface and annoys you with ads until you buy  the pro version.

VivaVideo is a much more attractive video editing app available for iOS, Android and Windows devices. It provides a whole lot of filters, stickers, themes, text arrangements, and transitions for post-processing. What’s even more impressive about this app is that it lets you film content from within the application while applying special effects in real-time. However, the user interface of the VivaVideo app could be better. It forces you to switch between different menu sections for various tasks.

The VivaVideo app is free, but you can get unlimited video length and removal of watermarks in the pro version.

Developing an app like AndroVideo or VivaVideo will require working with cross-platform software such as the ffmpeg multimedia framework written in C and Assembly. The process of video app development with this framework is very complicated and expensive.

VivaVideo app development

[the VivaVideo app]

Software is not the only reason why many video editing apps developed for Android devices struggle compared to their iOS equivalents.

Hardware limitations when building video apps

Some devices are just inherently better at shooting videos than others. For example, the camera in iPhone 5s and newer models can record 120 FPS videos that create a slow motion effect. iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus go even further with a  240 FPS camera mode.

Some Android devices also let users record videos in the slow motion mode, but their number is very limited and settings are somewhat less user-friendly. These devices include Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4.

Other quite powerful phone cameras just don’t have built-in capabilities for slow motion shooting: Sony’s Xperia Z1 has a great 20-megapixel camera, but it cannot record slow motion video.

At Yalantis, we’ve just finished developing a video recording app for both platforms, iOS and Android. Unfortunately, we had to remove some features such as slow motion from the current version of the Android app. We implemented the rest of the video recording functionality using a ready-made Android library built on top of the ffmpeg video processing framework.

You can read more about implementation of different video recording app features (including slow and stop motion) for Android in one of our previous articles.

Video editing apps for Android devices currently have limited functionality, but as the number of devices running Android grows, more and more companies will look into developing their own Android video editors.

Video recording and editing functionality that runs on the back-end

As we have already suggested, platform capabilities and hardware play a big role in defining the scope of video recording and editing app development. But since we’re also talking about product development, we also must mention the users.

People who want to experiment as directors of their own movie clips but are not looking for extensive functionality – and do not mind delegating most of the work to the app itself – may like video editing apps that run on backend implementations. Magisto is a great example of an app for those who don’t have the time to edit their own videos.

How do you develop an app like Magisto?

[the Magisto video app]

Magisto is available for both iOS and Android devices. The app’s video editing logic is implemented on the backend, so there is no trimming or editing in Magisto. Users simply choose from a set of themes and soundtracks that are associated with the themes, and Magisto does all the work and returns a finished video.

Similar to Magisto, Replay is an app focused on creating videos automatically, though it is only available for iPhone and iPad users. There are some differences between Magisto and Replay’s business models: Replay is made for heavy Instagram users, so it offers filters among its in-app purchasing options, whereas Magisto works on a subscription model with subscribers unlocking cloud storage for movies and the ability to process longer videos.

How do you develop a video editing app?

[the Replay video editor]

We analysed the market trends when it comes to video recording and video editing mobile applications and discovered a striking tendency:

Entertaining user experience.

Numerous special effects for video and audio… it’s all about entertainment. Users want to capture a funny or touching moment and immediately share it with their friends.  

Developing a video editing app for any mobile device can be an excruciating experience due to insufficient hardware capabilities and other factors. But if you are confident that you can face this challenge, you might be among the new trend-setters in the world of mobile apps!

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Check out how we developed Halaa, an Instagram for voice and video with sound effects

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