One of the worst phrases a human being can put together is "automatic video editor." The whole thing feels like it's set up for failure. Like "vasectomy in a box" or "snooki's pregnant." Add in "for Android" and, well, let's just say I've been burned before. So it came as an unbelievable shock when I tried out Magisto, which claims to be both of these things, and it was good. I mean, really good. It doesn't offer you any control at all, but it does the job for the regular Joe or Jane in fantastic form.

How It Works

The process is stupid simple. You take video with your phone's camera, then select which clips you want to include. If you want to have any kind of control over what goes in your video, this is the closest you can get. While you can choose what source material goes in to your final product, ultimately it's up to the Almighty Algorithm to decide what makes the final cut. So, improve the source material, improve the final product. That's about the best you can do.

magisto1 Screenshot_2012-08-28-13-40-36 magisto3

Once you've selected your clips, you're presented with a variety of music to choose from as a soundtrack. Surprisingly, the selection isn't just a bunch of synthesized free tracks. There are big names on deck: Daft Punk, Queen, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and even more current popular music from Skrillex to Adele, and yes, even that song. While there's no accounting for taste, just about everyone's is represented here. The selection alone ought to be enough to push this over the edge. We'll get to the questions about legality in a bit, but the short version is, yes, you should be good to use these.

Once you've chosen the soundtrack and clips, you enter in a title for the video and off you go. Magisto will upload your clips to its servers and then process the video. This can be a time-consuming process, so grab a snack. When it's done, though, depending on your song selection, the result can look pretty good.

How It Looks

To save you the time of shooting and converting your own videos to see how yours might come out, I've taken some sample clips of my own pet turtle, Lily the Eternal. All three of the following videos were made of the exact same eight clips, totaling a little over three minutes in length. The only thing I changed was the song. The entire process of shooting, uploading, and waiting for the finished product took a little over an hour or so for all three.

Guns N' Roses - Paradise City

Queen - We Are The Champions

Beach Boys - Surfin' USA

As you can see, the editing of the clips themselves doesn't seem to change too much, but the transitions and effects that are attached to certain songs can be wildly different. The choices of effects aren't random either. The colorful paint splashes on the Guns N' Roses song are used every time that song is chosen. Unfortunately, there's no way to see what kind of visual style you'll get to accompany your audio style, but with some rather lengthy trial-and-error, you can get to know what the various tracks end up looking like.

It's also unclear how long the final videos will end up being. My initial test used a little over a minute of footage, so I figured adding more source material would make the final product longer. Not so. The final product remained a little over a minute. Magisto's FAQ page says that if you want to increase the final duration, to add more footage. It doesn't say how long a video can get, though. There is also the possibility that the length may be limited in certain situations for licensing reasons. Which reminds me...

How's It Legal?

As if there wasn't enough making me worry when I hear "automatic video editor for Android," throwing in "free music from major record labels" makes my skeptic's sense tingle something fierce. Yet, according to Magisto's website, the music in its library is licensed legally. With a few caveats, of course. You can only use it for personal use via Magisto's service and expect any kind of protection. You are allowed to upload your video to YouTube, but once you do, you're on your own. The company says they "try to ensure that videos using the music in our library will not be blocked in the U.S." but there's no implied or explicit guarantee that you won't run afoul of copyright law. Especially if you're outside the US.


Almost immediately after I uploaded the above videos to YouTube, I received emails from Google stating that the music I used "may" be owned by their respective labels. However, in all three cases, the videos were still available with the warning that "ads may appear next to it." Of your ability to accompany videos with ads, Google, I have no doubt. More importantly, it says that my account status is not being penalized. However, it's impossible to say for sure that you would never run into penalties while using this service.

Unfortunately, with the labels having such complex licensing schemes with YouTube, and a vague policy with no guarantees from Magisto, there's no knowing for sure just which music you could use while uploading a video to YouTube. That being said, if you're nervous about it and want to avoid any legal trouble, you can always set your videos to public on Magisto's website and share them that way.


Magisto isn't going to be a go-to tool for serious content creators. We can establish that right off the bat. Including the word "automatic" in your description of a video editor removes the possibility entirely. Setting aside professional needs, though, this app is the first serious contender for a legitimate video editor on Android. Even creating the relatively simple Beach Boys version of the video above (which features a musical soundtrack, simple fades, and an animated title) would be very difficult if not impossible on current Android video editing apps. For that alone, this is worth a look.

At the same time, it's a bit of a sad state of affairs when the best video editor on Android doesn't even let you actually edit anything. This is more a commentary on Android apps and not Magisto, so we'll leave it at that. Suffice to say, if you want to make some cool looking videos and get a nice, licensed soundtrack while you're at it, Magisto is the way to go.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • makapav

    This is not a video editor! The product manufacturer is claiming this product to be something it is not.

    When was the last time a text editor meant you just dropped some random texts for it to build a paragraph?

    You need call this bullshit out on the product in your article clearly and in the heading.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      If you read the phrase "automatic video editor" (which is very clearly stated in the headline and first paragraph), and expected to be able to manually edit clips, there is really nothing I can do to help you.

      This app does exactly what it says it does. There is no conspiracy, no misdirection, and no bullshit.

      • DCMAKER

        I feel bad for you and all the trolls that do nothing but bitch and complain about nothing. Sorry you have to defend an article that requires no defending

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

          Thanks. I appreciate the support. :)

    • raindog469

      This app is a "video editor" in exactly the same sense that Dissociated Press is a "word processor". You don't edit, you supply source material and it does... something. Something which does, technically, count as processing words, in DP's case, or editing video, in this case. It's just that the app is doing the processing and editing, not us.

      I personally have no use for it, and think it's more of a novelty than a serious app. But until Android gets something like Premiere or even avidemux, we might as well get used to remembering the good old days... when teenagers used Windows Movie Maker.

  • Tiffany Sears

    Watching a turtle swim to "We are the champions" is far more satisfying than it ought to be


      I liked beach boys more :)

    • http://twitter.com/maoneill Megan O’Neill

      Agreed! :-)

  • mesmorino

    It's a good review and not only pointed out the app, but also the lack of other similar apps of similar quality.

    But... Can we be professional? Is it too much to ask? That one line crack about Snooki and her pregnancy was uncalled for, and drags the entire article down.

    • Freak4Dell

      On the contrary. I thought it was the best line of the article.

      • mesmorino

        Well, good for you


      someone cares about a stupid little girl with daddy issues that craves attention and does all sorts of stupid shit because she is stupid? WHHHAAAAAA

      • mesmorino

        Looks like someone's misinterpreted my comment as anything to do with Snooki, instead of something to do with the article itself.

        Like I said, be *professional*. Insulting random "celebrities", regardless of how stupid they are is unprofessional, especially when you're a technology oriented website/blog. If you must insult someone or something, pick something relevant, like one of the numerous dodgy accessories or phones that come across your desk.

        I couldn't care less about Snooki but I have no beef with her either.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii


      Snooki wasn't even capitalized - we're clearly talking about an inanimate snooki of some sort.

      • mesmorino

        Finally, somebody who gets it: of COURSE it's my opinion, jeez. I'm completely fine with that.

        What I don't get are the dumbasses who miss the point entirely and jump in all hurr durr chatting shit about things they don't understand ¬_¬

        • Freak4Dell

          No, we get your point. It's just that we don't think your point is worthy of any serious consideration.

          • mesmorino

            Well then stop commenting on it! It's not that hard to do, just ignore and move on.

            Unless you do think it's worthy of serious consideration of course, in which case please continue :)

          • Freak4Dell

            But then...how else would I boost your ego?

          • mesmorino

            Pfft, what ego? Over a comment on an article on the *Internet*? Nah.

            Besides, there's got to be better ways to boost my ego than commenting on an opinion that you don't think is worthy of further consideration ;)

  • IncCo

    That is one awesome turtle you've got there!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      Thanks! She's a feisty one. :)

  • Freak4Dell

    So...this is kind of like the Instagram of video.

    I can't wait for Facebook to be flooded with these videos.


  • Android_Girlie

    Here's all you really need to know about this app:

    1. It wants your email address before you can edit a video. (Huh?)
    2. It wants you to create a new account before you can edit a video. (Huh?)
    3. You pick "Use Gallery" thinking you'll see all your videos. (You won't. You see *THEIR* one sample video)
    4. You look for various editing features. (You'll only see "put audio over video".)
    5. It will crash an awful lot.

    Hey! Great app!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      1. I was able to edit videos without ever entering an email address. The only time I was forced to login was when I wanted to share something with YouTube, at which point it required I either create a Magisto account or log in with Facebook. I chose the latter, but anyone could choose not to do so at all.
      2. See above.
      3. Every video I took with the stock camera app, including ones that were on the SD card from my previous phone, showed up under Use Gallery.
      4. I go to great lengths to point out this is an "automatic video editor." I talk about it in the first paragraph.
      5. It never crashed once for me, but YMMV. What phone are you using it on? I used an Epic 4G Touch.

      • App_Cookie

        We couldn't find ANY way to ever "skip #1" or "skip #2'. Why hide the "skip feature" somewhere????

        We didn't know if "Use Gallery" was the same as "My Gallery". Why can't the developer just be 100% clear?

        This isn't an "automatic editor" or a "manual editor"... it's not ANY kind of e-d-i-t-o-r at all. You don't sit there and "edit" anything. You live through crash after crash before you realize... this doesn't allow anyone to EDIT any video clips.

        We tried is on 2 cell phones and 2 tablets. 4 different devices. All the same problems, crashes, and missing features.

        There's a reason why so many people are complaining about this app. It's not just a coincidence.

        • DCMAKER

          bitch bitch bitch...blah blah blah. dont like it dont use it. the article made it clear what it could and couldn't do...you are a ginormo baby

    • tammymarykay1

      Stop your moaning and groaning and either use the app or not stop making a bad for everyone else

  • sr1965

    Great article. I just tested Magisto out for the first time and I'm going to buy the upgraded version. Very cool!

  • http://www.facebook.com/aalsheikh Abdullah Al Alsheikh

    Hey I luv the app but I'm facing a problem and I was hoping u could help. I'm planning to get the paid version the only thing is I'm not able to choose songs from my music. Do u think if I get the full version I'll be able to?
    I'm using galaxy s3 on task 650 4.2.2 ROM

  • Anaelí

    Hy, I love this app, I boght the paid version en my Samsung Galaxy S3 and I get an error. Google play says: "Payment Successfull" but after that the app says "error procesing payment, for refunds email us". Can anybody help me please?

  • Amy

    I am in search of what to do i paid for a premium. Signed and upon signing back in had to reset my password and now my premium account is gone. Need help recovery cause i refuse to pay again when its only been 2 weeks since my purchase.

  • Magistouser

    Magisto gained access all pictures on my phone and send me an automatically created video using the most recent photos.

  • Magistouser

    Magisto gained access all pictures on my phone and send me an automatically created video using the most recent photos.

  • citizen144

    Screw this app. Anything that says "surprise" we've done something with your files you never knew the app would do and emailed it to you GETS DISABLED AND REMOVED IMMEDIATELY. I do not care one d*mn bit if you then disclaim "you can turn it off". IT SHOULD NOT BE ON. EVER. And I come to find out this "surprise" only after deciding not to use the painfully amateur garbage anyway, took about 18 seconds. What a crock of **** this thing is. One of the worst apps I've ever seen allowed in the market. I hope it turns out to be found in copyright violation for selling nothing but dumb tracks and sued out of existence. Well deserved if it happens.