Best editing suite on Android or ChromeOS

As one of the best mobile video editors, LumaFusion is now available everywhere on Android and ChromeOS thanks to an early access phase. We got to work to see how it holds up after bridging the iOS-Android/ChromeOS gap.

One important piece of advice we need to share before we dive in though: be sure to buy LumaFusion on the Google Play Store. Firstly, this allows access to ChromeOS alongside your Android phone. There is the added bonus that this also prevents lock-in on Galaxy Store devices.

Because your purchase is registered to your Google account, it means you can access LumaFusion on your Android and ChromeOS devices without the need for a Samsung Galaxy phone, tablet or Chromebook when the full version is available at a later date time is started.

LumaFusion on Android and ChromeOS: Why is this a big deal?

LumaFusion comes closest to the immensely popular Final Cut Pro that many Mac owners swear by. It’s been available on iOS and iPad since 2016 and can often be found at the top of the App Store charts. It really is a fantastic mobile video editing suite, worthy of all the praise it has received since its inception.

We have many editing apps on Android, but in almost all cases they are stripped down versions of many desktop equivalents. Adobe Premiere Rush is a prime example. Designed for just basic editing, you can create great videos, but the toolset is streamlined and key features are missing entirely. It also requires a $9.99 per month subscription. However, it’s free as part of a Creative Cloud subscription and has built-in cloud syncing.

Because Chrome OS is predominantly browser-based, it has been limited to mobile-first editing apps thanks to the ability to run Android apps. Most of these are unoptimized, pose performance-related issues, and in some cases are fixed to portrait mode. This is not ideal if you want to edit on a 16:9 screen.

LumaFusion offers a cross-platform solution that has been tested and tuned for both Android and ChromeOS. This is great news if you’re hoping to try it for yourself, while also making it easier to learn or use since the experience is virtually identical.

Far from a simple editor, you can fully optimize footage using built-in or even custom LUT (Look Up Tables) to create a style unique to your edits. I don’t think the audio editing feature is particularly extensive, but the keyframing and tuning are impressive. Chrome Key support even gives you rudimentary green screen features that very few mobile editors can boast of.

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The Storyblocks integration makes it easy and affordable to access an extensive library of stock videos, animated backgrounds, SFX, and even background music. You do not have to pay anything to access the service. A small selection of freebies are included and with services like Pexels, Unsplash, Chillhop and more offering free alternatives and you don’t have to pay a subscription. It’s a nice option built right in if you feel the need to add royalty-free content.

The ability to import media directly from Google Drive and OneDrive means that as long as you have a good internet connection, you don’t have to use external drives or even SD cards to add content to your timeline. I imagine this is particularly useful in scenarios where you need footage from another device but don’t have a cable to transfer it effectively.

How is the performance?

Creating proxy files on ChromeOS is helpful when working with larger files, but I found the Intel i3 HP Chromebase handled things really well with some 1080p and 4K UHD sample videos. There was stuttering and slowdowns here and there, but nothing to really ruin the experience. Compared to my purpose-built editing workstation, these were more distinctive but not groundbreaking.

The interesting thing about this form factor is that you can set the screen orientation to portrait or landscape. That means if you prefer the default mobile layout, you can quickly switch between them to suit your preferences.

Using a mouse was fine. I found the combined touchscreen controls and precise mouse pointer choices to be a great combination. Being able to type and tweak while scrolling and scrubbing is something I’d like to see in Adobe packages. However, mouse and keyboard users definitely need some tuning. It’s passable for now, but not perfect. It’s harder to suggest for those with non-touchscreen-capable Chromebooks.

It’s excellent on Android and you can tell that LumaFusion was originally developed for mobile devices and then ported to the tablet form factor. All the controls around the main timeline view are cropped so that they are not visible and do not hinder the process of creating/creating a video. As someone who certainly prefers editing on a laptop or desktop, I’m blown away by what you can achieve when using a mobile app like this.

Timeline scrubbing of 4K and 1080p footage is incredibly smooth on the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra. I did notice a few dropped frames here and there, but I didn’t find that bothersome or disappointing since the software runs on a mobile chipset, after all. LumaFusion is still in Early Access and I have to admit that it’s doing a lot better than I expected.

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Phones that have access to a stylus, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, let you be really precise with the touchscreen capabilities. While I haven’t tested this software on the Galaxy Z Fold range, it would be spot on there as well. Cropping video clips to the right size is much more accurate. With the Pixel tablet set to launch sometime in 2023 with stylus support, it’ll be a perfect match there too.

When it comes to render times, things get a little interesting. On a modest ChromeOS device with an i3 processor, a timeline with few transitions, no color effects and a maximum length of three minutes, the rendering took about a minute at 1080p resolution.

The Pixel 7 Pro offered similarly solid video rendering times. Within a minute, a nearly three-minute timeline was created consisting of the same clips. Interestingly, in both cases, rendering at 4K added just a few seconds to the total render time.

Of course, as you start adding multiple effects, backing tracks, titles, and transformative edits to your clips, render times start to increase dramatically. If you try similar edits with the LumaFusion app on iOS, it offers faster times, but not dramatically. The optimization made to ensure that the Android and ChromeOS versions of the app are in close proximity to the Apple platforms is very commendable.

Interestingly, when rendering with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro side by side in 4K resolution, the latter blew the Apple flagship away. This only applied to resolutions above 1080p. The iPhone and iPad we tested smoked the Pixel 7 Pro and the Galaxy S22 Ultra at a lower resolution when rendering. It’s not clear what’s causing this, but it’s a win that Android owners will no doubt be happy about.

One frustration we had was the apparent lack of support for the .MOV video format or the inability to import directly from a file on the phone or PC. It just doesn’t seem to work on ChromeOS or Android when imported from local storage. I also found that HDR and select high framerate videos would also cause problems. However, when linked to my Google Drive account, 120fps .MP4 and even .MOV videos imported and added to a timeline with no problem.

Because of this, we caution that you may need to check or test footage shot at higher resolutions for compatibility first before expecting things to just work. This is a nuisance for serious videographers as you may need to convert video files before they can be used in LumaFusion. This will be a real stumbling block for many and is important to note.

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Final Thoughts

Lumafusion for Chromeos

LumaFusion for Android is a nice addition. Where it really becomes a valuable tool is over with ChromeOS. ChromeOS users know that the platform has lacked a solid video editing suite since launch, and LumaFusion delivers that with no monthly fees or missing features. Despite being a mobile app, it works more like a desktop editing package than software packaged in a mobile form. You don’t need tons of under-the-hood grunts to keep it running well, and basic projects are now within reach for ChromeOS users.

For those looking for a full-featured Android editing suite, it’s similarly impressive, outperforming Adobe Rush and many other editing packages. The value of a one-time payment with guaranteed future updates is also something that LumaFusion charges over many of the subscription-based alternatives.

Additionally, file management on iPad and iOS is atrocious. Android and ChromeOS handle this with aplomb. When you’re in a project, you can find video, image, and audio content much faster, and managing files is less of a hassle.

Professional editors aren’t going to move to LumaFusion full-time, and they always have. I’d be incredibly surprised if someone ditched a Windows or macOS computer in favor of ChromeOS now that LumaFusion is available.

However, for first-time video editing or even quick edits on the go, LumaFusion is a great option/alternative. While it’s technically still in Early Access or Beta on Android and ChromeOS, it showed me that it’s already the best video editing option. Hopefully, with more tuning and tweaks ahead of stable launch, we’ll see even greater parity between the experience on iOS and Google’s platforms.

Accessibility is often a barrier for people getting into video editing. With smartphone cameras improving so quickly, the ability to edit a video entirely on your phone with desktop-level controls is a great tool to have access to. I can imagine even more people creating content online with an even lower barrier to entry.

Priced at $19.99, LumaFusion is not a cheap app for Android or ChromeOS. It’s a premium package, but one that thankfully doesn’t feel overpriced. In fact, it offers great value if you’re looking for a multi-device editing suite that’s easy to learn and use.

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