Exploring the iPhone 6S Live Photos Feature

The Apple iPhone 6s comes with “Live Photos”, a newfangled feature which allows users to see and take moving, GIF-like pictures. Considering the new iPhone models sport upgraded cameras, this is a welcome development and it’s definitely something most consumers – and pundits – are looking forward to.

What exactly is it?

The Live Photos feature allows users to take the still image, along with the 1.5 second-long before and after the image was taken. The images taken is accompanied by sound. Apple strongly emphasizes it’s not a GIF image, nor a video: it’s an all-new format the tech giant came up with.

Still confused? For example, let’s say you’re taking a picture of your baby laughing. Instead of a single picture, you have a three second-long “Live Photo” which shows your laughing baby, along with the audio.

How does it work?

The Live Photos picture is on by default, though you can take still images as usual.

Basically, the new, and more powerful 12 MP camera pre-records moments before and after you take a picture, and saves it along with the taken image. The photos take advantage of the new 3D Touch Feature: while scrolling through Camera Roll, you can view the Live Photos version of taken images by force pressing it.

Apple hasn’t released every piece of information about it, and we’re not sure if you can turn the feature off.

Availability and support

Unfortunately, you can only take Live Photos through the iPhone 6s. However, Apple has announced these are viewable on its full cast of devices – earlier iPhone models, iPads, Macbooks, and Apple Watches – provided they are sporting the recent operating systems. For mobile users, it’s highly likely you will need to upgrade to iOS 9 on September 16 to view Live Photos.

iPhone users can set up Live Photos as their lock screen backgrounds. If you feel like it, you can view the animated background by pressing the screen. Meanwhile, Apple Watch only have to raise their wrists (like motioning to look at the time) for it to animate.

Given that it is a new image format, Apple has opened up the API for application developers to support developers that want to create apps using the technology. Currently, only Facebook has pledged to support the new format by the end of this year. If it’s a big hit, other social media networks, like Twitter and Instagram, along with other developers, might make their applications support it.

The perceived negatives


So what are the downsides to Live Photos? Well, with every new technology in photography comes a price in space…

Matthew Panzarino of Techcrunch highlighted in a video that Live Photos might approximately take up twice the space of a normal 12 MP photo. Considering the new iPhone pre-records moments before and after the shutter is pressed, it likely takes several images and compresses them, in the new format.

This feature may put possible buyers of the 16 GB iPhone 6s variants ($649 for a regular iPhone 6s, and $749 for the iPhone 6s Plus) in a limbo.

16 GB is just not enough storage space for Live Photos… at least if you’re anything more than a hobbyist. The iPhone 6s allow users to take 12MP, high-resolution photos with large file sizes. A normal 12 MP photo can already gobble up nearly a megabyte of storage space, but since the iPhone 6s doesn’t take normal photos, the file size of each Live Photo is further increased. This means you will store fewer photos, apps, and files with the 16 GB variant – you will need to purchase the 64 GB or 128 GB variants if you take no less than 10 photos a day.

It is also worth noting that the videos captured by the iPhone 6s’ camera is powered by a 4k video system, making them Ultra High Definition (or UHD). This in turn results to higher file sizes.

So will Live Photos be enough to make iPhone 6’s a must-purchase device? I think that it’s certainly something that folks who are interested in “photography in motion” should pursue. I, for one, cannot wait to keep playing around with Live Photos. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go upgrade my iCloud plan…

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