TMP Review: iMovie for the iPhone 4

Normally if you wanted to edit the video you took on your iPhone you were very limited, and at best could only trim the beginning and ending your video.  If you truly wanted some editing capabilities you had to transfer it over to your computer.  Finally there’s now an app for editors on the go i the form of Apple’s iMovie scaled down for the iPhone 4 (it won’t work with earlier phones…sorry).

Personally I’ve never been a fan of iMovie and most professional editors aren’t either, but for the average person it’s a great (and cheap) way to edit videos without having to learn a professional program.  Sometimes all you want to do is put a title on there, slap together a couple scenes, and call it a day.  For general consumer iMovie for the Mac was a great solution, that’s incredibly user friendly.


So iMovie for the iPhone is a scaled down version of it’s iteration on the Mac (which means it’s very user friendly, and easy to pick up and manage).  I managed to get my hands on this nifty little program and must say that as far as mobile editing goes, this program packs a decent punch.

Adding files into the project is simple (once the program is open) you click on the video, photo, or audio that you want and it’ll drop into the project. However you can only use videos and photos that you have taken yourself, but then again that’s all you should be editing.  Once you’re in the program you can navigate the timeline by scrolling your finger across the screen and then trim the video clips you want before dropping them into the larger timeline.

Export features are simple.  When you’re done you can just tap the ‘Project’ button to return to the projects page and then just tap the export button.  You’ll then have the option of exporting at either 360p, 540p, or even 720p.  Once it’s done exporting the video will go onto your video roll in the iPhone where you can then upload it as you will.

The Apple Press Conference iMovie demo


When exporting to YouTube directly from your phone, it won’t display in HD the same way you exported it.  YouTube compression takes it down a notch, so the only way to upload it in HD is to transfer to your home computer first.

If you’re expecting a full version of iMovie in the app, you’re going to be disappointed.  There are many things this version simply cannot do that the full version does.  You can’t split clips, adjust the length of titles (they’ll stay the entire length of the clip so keep it short), can’t change the fonts of the titles, and you’re variety of transitions is sorely limited.  Add to that you only have one track available for audio (and even then you only have two options for volume control), and you’re pretty limited.

A sample of what can be made with the program

Besides the cons of the application, if you’re doing quick projects that you want slightly more polished than just showing people the raw video, you can’t really go wrong with iMovie for the iPhone.  It’s not as slick and refined as a bigger editing program, but for $5 and the portability of the system, this is a hard program to pass up.

It’s very limited, but anything you’re making on the iPhone probably isn’t designed for your big budget movies either.  On the whole if you’re doing quick videos of your kids or events that you want to post quickly to YouTube, this is a perfect app to add in some audio and a couple transitions.  For the price it can’t be beat.