For a platform with more than a million apps, it sure is difficult to find a decent video editor on Android.
Ask most Android enthusiasts and they'll tell you the same thing: Video editing is an area of surprising weakness in the Android app ecosystem. There are plenty of utilities out there, but most of them range from "meh" to "terrible."
At one point, Google itself seemed poised to fill the void: The company released its own native Android video editor, Movie Studio, with the launch of its Android 3.0 Honeycomb platform in 2011. But the app was almost immediately abandoned and is no longer even being shipped with new devices.
To be fair, Google's native Android Gallery app does let you perform basic video trimming, and the company's Google+-connected Photos app has a tool for adding music and premade themes to clips you've captured -- but lots of people need something more robust.
That's why we decided to dig in deep to the Google Play Store and come up with five solid options for editing videos on Android. One of them is actually quite polished and well-rounded, while the others offer more limited functionality with their own sets of perks.
Read on -- and find out once and for all which Android video editor is right for you.
AndroVid is more of a toolbox than a formal video editor -- but it's simple to use and does several things well.
Free with ads; $1.99 ad-free
Pros: Easy tool for trimming videos; lets you split videos into two separate pieces; can grab single-frame images from videos
Cons: No advanced editing options; audio options are very limited; no tool for full-screen graphics; user interface somewhat confusing; ad-free version costs almost as much as the more advanced KineMaster Pro
In short: If you need something a step above the most basic toolbox but not at the level of a full-fledged video editing suite, AndroVid should meet your needs with little hassle or superfluous functionality.
Once you open a video in AndroVid, you see a sliding list of options at the top of the screen. (You might not realize that the list slides at first -- this isn't exactly an award-winning user interface -- but if you swipe your finger to the left, you'll find more options awaiting.)
The options are fairly self-explanatory and work more or less as you'd expect: A Trim command lets you select a small segment of a video and get rid of the rest, a Split command lets you pick a point in the video at which it'll be spliced into two separate pieces and a Grab command lets you select a single frame of the video to save as a still image.
AndroVid also presents an option for converting a video into an MP3 as well as one for adding a single music track into a clip. The latter isn't terribly useful, though, as there's no way to control where the music starts and stops within the clip or for how long it plays.
If you need to add text onto your video, AndroVid has a tool for that. Once you've selected the tool, all you do is type in your text and then use your finger to determine where on the screen it appears. You can adjust the size and color of the text, but there's no way to create or import a full-screen graphic, and there are no animations or transitions.
AndroVid does have a decent range of one-touch filter effects for videos. A few of them are limited only to a $2 "Pro" version of the program, but the vast majority work within the free version.
And finally, AndroVid has options for rotating videos and converting them to a different size, format or quality.
For professionals who need a full-featured video editing solution, KineMaster Pro is a tough contender to beat. It's by far the most robust of the Android-based video editing tools I've tested -- and one of the most well-designed, to boot.
$2.99 full version; free verson with watermark available
Pros: Robust video editing options; wide range of tools for improving video quality; professional-looking transitions; impressive graphic creation utility; supports multiple audio tracks; native voice-over recording tool; clean and simple user interface
Cons: Supports a limited range of devices
In short: KineMaster Pro is the complete package: a full-featured video editor that's attractive and easy to use. If only it supported more devices.
KineMaster Pro gives you a multitracked timeline with full drag-and-drop support: You can import multiple videos, images and audio clips, and then move them around as needed with your finger. The app makes it easy to adjust elements more granularly, too: You just select the element you want to tweak and then tap a scissor icon above the timeline. You can then drag your finger to trim the clip or tap a "Split" option to divide the clip into two separate pieces for further manipulation.
KineMaster has tons of options for improving the quality of your product, ranging from sliders for adjusting a clip's brightness, contrast and color saturation to a range of filter-like color effects. The app also has one-touch tools for rotating videos or images and an impressive selection of professional-looking transitions to give your project a more refined look.
In terms of graphics, KineMaster has a large variety of templates for creating both full-screen and superimposed titles. Many of the options include sleek-looking animations; the app even has a tool for creating credit-style scrolling text. It can also do interesting things with still images, like rendering a slow zoom into a picture while text floats across it.
KineMaster Pro supports multiple audio tracks, so you can have overlapping layers of music, effects and voice-overs. The app has a built-in voice recorder that lets you record narration while you're watching your video. It comes with a collection of generic background music tracks, too, in case you need something to set the mood in a hurry.
The only glaring fault with KineMaster Pro is the limited range of devices it supports. For some reason, rather than simply making a minimum OS version requirement as most apps do, KineMaster's developers have restricted the app to a specific subset of Android phones and tablets (for example, while most of the Samsung mobile devices are supported, no Motorola device is). If your device isn't included in that list, you won't be able to purchase and install the app from the Google Play Store.
If you can get it, though, KineMaster Pro is in a league all its own in the realm of Android video editors. Serious users need look no further.
(Note: KineMaster does offer a free version of the app if you'd like to try before you buy, but that version puts a watermark on all finished videos -- so it really isn't good for anything beyond a brief demo.)
Video Maker Pro Free
Video Maker Pro Free is actually based on Google's old Movie Studio app -- and it shows. The editor uses the same exact interface as the old native app, which is no-frills and somewhat bare-bones but also clean and easy to use.
Video Maker Pro Free
Free with ads
Pros: Simple and intuitive user interface; easy to perform basic editing functions; includes separate audio track; includes basic lower-third graphic utility; free
Cons: Lacks multiple audio tracks; lacks full-screen graphic creation utility and any advanced graphic options; limited number of transitions; includes ads
In short: For basic video editing on Android, Video Maker Pro provides a clean and simple user interface that's easy to use and understand.
Once you create a new project in Video Maker Pro Free, you're presented with a timeline-based editing screen. A plus button at the top of the screen allows you to import existing images and videos or capture new ones and place them directly on the timeline. You can drag and drop items on the timeline to move them around in the sequence.
Tapping an item -- be it an image or a video -- allows you to make several adjustments to it: You can trim the length of the item by sliding your finger left or right at its start or finish, you can apply a handful of plain transitions to move in or out of the element, you can apply a few very basic filters and you can add simple lower-third title graphics.
The lower-third title graphics are functional if not beautiful: You can select from a black or (oddly enough) transparent orange background and can opt to have the graphic appear at the bottom of the screen or floating horizontally in the center. There are no options for changing the face, size or color of the font.
For any graphics beyond that, it's up to you to create them in a separate program and then import them as images; Video Maker Pro Free has no graphic creation tool of its own.
Video Maker Pro Free provides a separate space for a single supplementary audio track, should you wish to add a voice-over or music track to your project. (You can add one or the other -- with only a single supplementary track, there is no way to have both at the same time.) The app has no integrated voice recording function, so you're limited to adding in only existing sound files. Once an audio track is added, you can adjust its level as needed to make sure the audio can be heard over any natural sound on your primary video clip.
Video Maker Pro Free is essentially a continuation of the editing software Google abandoned -- with little new added into the equation other than some scattered ads. It isn't the most powerful or advanced video editing utility in the world, but if basic editing is all you need, the tried-and-true interface makes it one of the simplest and most usable products on the platform today.
VidTrim is less of a full-fledged video editor and more of a collection of tools for basic video manipulation. The app doesn't give you a standard timeline for editing; rather, you just select a video clip from your device and then tap one of a few options available.
Free with ads; $3.99 ad-free
Pros: Easy video trimming; able to adjust video size and quality; includes basic one-touch filters
Cons: Limited in functionality; ad-free version is the same price as the more advanced KineMaster Pro app
In short: For users looking to do only the most basic types of video manipulation, VidTrim is a simple way to get the job done.
Tapping a scissor icon opens up the app's Trimmer tool, which gives you a simple slider for selecting a small portion of your clip and trimming it down to only that section. It also allows you to save your selection as an MP3, should that need ever arise.
Tapping a tools icon, meanwhile, gives you the ability to change the video's size and quality. It also allows you to add a supplementary audio track into the clip, though there's no way to fine-tune where exactly the audio will play or how loud it'll be.
Last but not least, an overflow menu icon holds the option to grab a still frame from a video as well as to apply a variety of different filters -- standard stuff like black and white, vignette and vintage modes.
And that's about it. If you're looking for advanced video editing, VidTrim definitely isn't for you. But if the most basic video manipulation is all you need, VidTrim does a few elemental things reasonably well.
Interested more in social sharing than serious editing? WeVideo is an all-in-one solution that makes it simple to give your videos extra pop and then publish them to the Web -- all without ever leaving the app.
Pros: Simple to use; prepackaged themes make editing very easy; built-in options for online sharing
Cons: Extremely limited in functionality; requires account creation prior to use; requires all content to be uploaded to remote servers for editing
In short: For non-tech-savvy users who want to create attractive thematic clips for social sharing, WeVideo is about as simple of a solution as you could find.
WeVideo is entirely cloud-based -- and as a result, you have to first upload a video to its servers and wait for it to process before you can do anything. This took several minutes with the 56-second clip I used to test the app, which was mildly annoying compared to the instant-on environment other video editing apps provide.
You also have to create a WeVideo account in order to use the app, which I found to be rather irksome as well.
But you have to think of WeVideo as almost more of a social network than a stand-alone editor; the idea is that you can make clever creations and then share them using the app's own network. Once you've uploaded a clip, the app gives you a WeVideo-based link along with the option to publish the project to YouTube, so if that's the kind of thing you're after, it could be a reasonable solution for you.
WeVideo's editing tools are fairly limited: You can trim a video, add multiple clips or images into a project, and add in music. WeVideo provides a variety of ready-to-use themes that attach specific songs and visual styles to your projects, though you can also opt to use your own tunes if you prefer.
The app allows for a basic title screen at the start of a video; it's automatically styled for you in a look that matches the theme you selected. You can add a lower-third graphic as well, though, like the title screen, you can't control how it looks or when it appears.
WeVideo won't be for everyone, but for users looking for prepackaged ways to quickly spruce up their videos and share them with friends, it's an app worth considering.
So there you have it: Five solid video editing apps for Android. In terms of both form and function, KineMaster Pro is unquestionably the best overall option of the group -- but for folks with simpler needs (or for those who have devices that KineMaster doesn't support), the other four provide some worthy alternatives.
This story, "5 video editing apps for Android" was originally published by Computerworld.
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