Live Photos Called 'Best New Feature,' Composed of Separate JPG and MOV Files

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus include several new camera features that have been highly popular in reviews thus far, but there's also a fantastic update to the way photos are displayed on the two devices. With Live Photos, exclusive to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, a bit of motion is captured alongside each photo, enabling short animations that bring each image to life.

To enable Live Photos, the iPhone captures 1.5 seconds before every picture is taken and 1.5 seconds afterwards. The motion is then displayed whenever a 3D Touch force press is used on a photo, activating the animation to add a bit of context.

With iPhone 6s reviews coming out today, we've learned several interesting details about the Live Photos feature, including some negative aspects that Apple's working to improve. We're also able to get an in-depth look at what the reviewers thought of the feature, giving us an idea of whether it's truly useful or more of a gimmick.

live-photo-anatomy-test

Image via TechCrunch

Apple has been quick to point out that a Live Photo is not a video, and it appears the feature is enabled by combining a 12-megapixel JPG with a MOV file. TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino reports (in his full review of the new iPhones) that a Live Photo consists of a JPG combined with a MOV file that contains 45 frames playing back at around 15 frames per second. Combining a JPG with a MOV file means Live Photos take up twice the space of a normal image. Panzarino also shared some tips on getting good Live Photos shots, but said he believes the best use cases are still undiscovered.

In my experience, Live Photos work best when capturing ambience, not action. Because the frame rate is relatively low, moving the camera a ton while you shoot them or having a subject move will display a bit of jitter. If, however, you're shooting a still image with some moving elements, the effect is extraordinary.

According to The New York Times' Brian X. Chen, there's a "short learning curve" for Live Photos, because moving a camera immediately after taking a photo will ruin the Live Photo, something Apple says it will fix in an upcoming software update. There's also no way to remove audio, and editing a Live Photo only applies edits to the still frame.

Two other items that I'd like to see addressed in future software updates: One, when Live Photos are captured, they include audio. I'd like the option to disable that because images alone can speak loudly enough. You also can't edit Live Photos. You can only apply an edit to the still frame, but not the motion frames. It would be ideal to at least be able to make minor adjustments to Live Photos, like increasing brightness or contrast.

The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern calls Live Photos "the phone's best new feature," in her review, and shares a selection of example images that give a good look at how Live Photos look.

Live Photos File Details

Because of the way Live Photos work, combining a MOV file with a JPG file, the full Live Photo experience will only be viewable on iOS devices that run iOS 9, the Apple Watch with watchOS 2, and Macs running OS X El Capitan. Sending a Live Photo by email or directly to non-supported devices, the Live Photo will be stripped of the MOV component and sent as a regular JPG.

live_photo_video
However, when importing Live Photos to your Mac in Yosemite's Photos app, they're imported as a separate JPG and MOV file. When TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino sent a Live Photo to our iPhone 6 running iOS 9, the Live Photo was viewable (with motion) in iOS 9. When imported into Yosemite's Photos, the image was split into the JPG and MOV components. Importing into Photos on OS X El Capitan generates a single photo in the library, and double clicking it plays the video portion of the Live Photo.

As you can see, the JPG and MOV components took up 2.5MB and 1.7MB of space, respectively, for this Live Photo taken with the iPhone 6s back camera. Meanwhile, the front camera took a lower resolution 1MB image, but with the same size 1.7MB MOV file. The MOV resolution was 960x720 at ~12FPS for both sample Live Photos.

We'll learn a lot more about Live Photos this Friday, when the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus become available to the public.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

dannyyankou Avatar
76 months ago
3D Touch, 12MP 4k camera, and 2GB of ram are all better features.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
76 months ago
That is going to be incredibly confusing for the general consumer.
No it won't. Most consumers don't care how the files are stored. They just know that they'll work on Mac/iOS devices, and not other devices. Simple.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
76 months ago
Android has this for years.
Yeah, that's a classic Apple move -- take something Android or whoever has been doing badly for a while and do it much, much better. See also: Touch ID.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
76 months ago
Android has this for years.
ummm.. no they haven't.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Iconoclysm Avatar
76 months ago
Android has this for years.
Ahh yes, the misinformed "Android already had this" post....always a treat
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dojoman Avatar
76 months ago
Android has this for years.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...
iPad Pro Feature Magenta

Mac Otakara: iPad Air 5 to Feature iPad Pro-Like Design, No Design Changes Coming to iPad Mini 6 or iPad 9

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:06 am PDT by
The next-generation iPad Air will feature a design that's similar to the third-generation iPad Pro, according to Japanese site Mac Otakara. Citing a Chinese supplier, the site says that the fifth-generation iPad Air will continue to feature a 10.9-inch display and a Touch ID button on the side, but it will gain a dual-lens camera system with Wide and Ultra Wide cameras. A LiDAR Scanner is ...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...