Google is retiring its web-based YouTube editor in September 2017. There are several free-to-use alternatives on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS, but Chromebook users may be out of luck.
In September 2017, the free video editor at YouTube.com/editor will "go away," according to a YouTube Help Forum post by a Community Manager. The web-based editor allowed people to edit as many as 50 clips, 500 images, sound, titles, and transitions, to create up to an hour-long video. The video editor is being "retired" due to "limited usage," the post said.
The post suggested that there are "many free and paid third-party editing tools available," but omits names or links to replacement options.
So, if you need an alternative to the YouTube.com/editor, here are a few free options.
Alternative free video editing apps
Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS all offer excellent video editing alternatives.
People with iOS or macOS devices may switch to iMovie, a moderately powerful option, which Apple made available free to users on these platforms in April 2017. That same month, Apple also released the excellent Clips app for iOS that lets you record and edit short videos with minimal work. (YouTube's own YouTube Capture app for iOS, includes basic editing capabilities, but as of July 2017, the most recent update to the app was in 2013.)
Windows or Linux users can choose from several open source video editors, such as OpenShot or Shotcut. And those are just two of the more powerful options. Many other video editing apps, like Lightworks, offer basic capabilities for free with paid upgrades for more features.
Web video editing
For people who need a free, web-based video editing solution, there are fewer options.
WeVideo works on the web, as well as on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS, and delivers the ability to edit up to 4K video. However, the free plan limits you to five minutes of published video at 480p resolution per month, with paid plans starting at $59.88 per user per year. The company also offers a one-time fee for higher resolution video publishing, as well as special pricing for schools.
Another web-based video editor, Stupeflix, offers the ability to assemble and edit a series of video, photos, titles, maps, and transitions. The free version imposes a 20-minute maximum video length. Educators can apply for Stupeflix for Education, to give up to 100 students the ability to create videos at 360p resolution. (Stupeflix is owned by GoPro, which also offers the Quik editor for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.)
SEE: The Complete Video Production Bootcamp (TechRepublic Academy)
Problematic for Chromebook users
Despite the aforementioned options, the withdrawal of the YouTube Video Editor feels like a snub to Chromebook owners—and educational users, in particular. None of the free browser-based video editing options I see match the YouTube Video Editor's capabilities. If you want equal—or better—features, you'll need to pay. Educators who used the YouTube editor to teach basic video editing on a Chromebook can choose low resolutions, limited times, or pay. (Note: In the long-term, Android video-editing apps may work well on Chrome OS, but most Chromebooks deployed in July 2017 don't support Android apps.)
From the point of view of YouTube, I understand the decision. Billions of people view video every day. Fewer upload video to YouTube. Of people who share video, only a tiny percentage use the web-based editor. It doesn't make sense to maintain a tool few people use. Developer resources are better used on other efforts. So, drop the YouTube.com/editor.
But, the killing of the YouTube editor strikes me as a significant snub to Chromebook users. Is there no other group within Google that sees a browser-based video editor as useful? I could see a browser-based video editor as a core app in either Google Classroom or G Suite. Why not take the opportunity to create (or acquire) an even more powerful collaborative, browser-based video editing tool?
I expect the use of video to increase in the future. And I had expected the use of Chromebooks to increase in the future, too. Yet this move seems to say that Google doesn't value the Chromebook owners who might use a Chromebook to edit video. I hope that changes.
Update: Stupeflix no longer accepts new customers. The company announced that it will close down in August 2018.
I hope I'm missing something. Is there an amazing, free-to-use, browser-based video editor as capable as the YouTube.com/editor out there? If you used the YouTube.com/editor, what alternative do you recommend for browser-based editing? Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).
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