Apple finally has professional creative software to match the iPad Pro. The company is releasing both Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad on May 23rd. The two tablet apps now feature a touch-friendly interface and other iPad-specific improvements, such as Pencil and Magic Keyboard support (more on those in a moment). At the same time, Apple wants to reassure producers that these are full-featured apps that won't leave Mac users feeling lost.
Final Cut Pro adds a jog wheel (similar to a physical video controller) to help you quickly navigate and make certain edits. Other touch inputs make it easy to reorder and edit clips, Apple claims. Things get better if you have an Apple Pencil. You can draw directly on your content, and hover over the timeline (on iPad Pro M2 models) to skim footage. You can edit HDR video on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and there's even a pro camera mode that lets you adjust elements like white balance and (on M2 iPads) record in the ProRes format.
At the same time, Apple wants to reassure creators that Final Cut Pro for iPad can fit into a familiar workflow. It supports multi-camera video editing as well as customizable graphics and auto-adjusting soundtracks. You can easily remove background images or noises, and automatically crop to fit common video aspect ratios. Projects created on the iPad can be sent to a Mac (and vice versa), and you can bring in video from iMovie for iOS. Add a keyboard and you can use shortcuts like you would on your computer.
Logic Pro, meanwhile, takes advantage of touch to let you perform on the iPad itself. You'll find a collection of instruments you can play using keyboards and other virtual interfaces, and a surprisingly deep mixer includes channel strips, faders, plug-ins and similar controls. There's a new sound browser to help find patches, samples and other content in one place. Along with the usual effects and plug-ins (including vintage EQs), there are new tools for manipulating samples, crafting beats, designing drum kits and producing loops.
As with Final Cut, Logic Pro on iPad can exchange projects with its Mac equivalent. You can export music to Final Cut or as individual audio stems, and import tracks from GarageBand for iOS if you need the more advanced production suite.
The requirements are relatively steep for Final Cut Pro. While Logic Pro will work with any A12-equipped iPad or newer, you'll need at least an M1-based iPad just to use the video editor. Neither is surprising given the demands of pro-level media software, but there's a good chance you'll have to invest in a new iPad.
The apps represent a change in Apple's pricing strategy. Where Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for Mac are one-time purchases, you'll have to subscribe to the iPad versions for either $5 per month or $49 per year. There's a one-month free trial. The move isn't surprising given Apple's increasing reliance on services for revenue, but it may be disappointing if you were hoping to avoid the industry's fascination with subscriptions.
Even so, these apps may be worth the outlay. Apple has routinely faced criticism for marketing pro iPads that don't have first-party software to justify the expense. While third parties have stepped up with offerings like Adobe's (limited) suite and Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve, you couldn't realistically use an iPad as part of an all-Apple creative solution. So long as the iPad editions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro meet your needs, you can buy them to either supplement your Mac setup or serve as an all-in-one production studio.