• 03.21.17

Apple’s Clips App Is Snapchat For People Who Don’t Get Snapchat

And with it, Apple makes a triumphant return to Dadcore UX.

Apple has announced a long-rumored video app called Clips, which allows you to shoot video and layer on graphics and filters–and even speak video subtitles–to then be shared on any social media platform you like. Essentially, it’s Apple’s answer to new media apps like Snapchat.


Clips isn’t out yet–it’s “coming soon”–but you don’t need to investigate it very deeply to recognize the move from Apple’s playbook: It’s pure dadcore UX. It’s Apple translating a tweenspeak media interface into something that’s both obvious and nonthreatening for the olds. (And in the age of Snapchat, don’t we all feel just a little bit old?)

Photo: Apple

Last year, Apple added a literal emoji dictionary to iMessages that automatically translates words into pictures for anyone unfamiliar with emoji. Much the same way, Clips introduces Snapchat’s “hold to record” function to the masses. But the difference between how Apple and Snap introduce the same feature with UI is telling.

Snapchat first introduced “hold to record” with a tiny button and zero explanation. You had to decipher the app’s speakeasy-style interface to unlock its treasures. Evan Spiegel famously told the Daily Mail‘s Jon Steinberg, who was 38 at the time, that it didn’t matter if he didn’t get the UI. “You aren’t really the target,” Spiegel said.

How did Apple introduce hold-to-record? By going full dadcore. It built a giant red button stretched across the screen like a piece of saltwater taffy that came free with a decoder ring. Emblazoned on the button are the words HOLD TO RECORD or HOLD TO ADD THIS PHOTO.

Photo: Apple

Let’s hope that at least the instructions disappear over time–but then again, what else is Apple doing with this super wide button real estate but broadcast reaffirming messages? In fact, Apple might as well pile on more messaging: “hold button to record and stop holding to stop recording, and congrats on still being a 34 waist, you silver-dusted cowboy” would be welcome on my screen.

It’s not beautiful UI. It’s by no means subtle. And frankly, there are so many buttons on the Clips screen–with upper and lower menu bars!–that it’s hard to imagine anyone not being a little bit overwhelmed compared to alternatives like Instagram, or even Snapchat. But it is designed with a very specific purpose that plays to Apple’s strengths–a massive user base that, with the right instruction, could learn to use the internet in new ways, too. (Today, as Snap has gone public and is facing Wall Street pressure to go truly mainstream, it too is loaded with UI assistants that pop up to explain how to do things until you’re proficient.)


Plus, Clips can’t be any worse than Apple’s existing photo editor, right? And at least users will know: Make sure you HOLD TO RECORD.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.