Live Photo is Not the iPhone’s Best New Feature

Live Photo is Not the iPhone’s Best New Feature

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern calls Apple’s new “Live Photo” feature, “the absolute best thing about the 6s.” If this truly is the best thing about the iPhone 6s, no one should upgrade.


The new feature captures 1.5s of video before and after taking a still photo to generate what most people would refer to as an animated GIF (no, it’s not a GIF file, but the concept is the same). Apple’s examples are, of course, masterful demonstrations of the technology: rippling waves in a pond, a woman swimming from beneath a wooden walkway at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, a man extending his arms at a waterfall.

But Stern’s examples are more indicative of “real life”: a spinning selfie (which belongs in the Kong selfie app), a dimly lit birthday, and a motion blurred dog shaking itself dry. And with no native way to display these new “living photos” outside the phone, the images have to be converted to looped video to display on the web. Her photos are schizophrenic – it’s as if she took them to show off the video feature rather than augmenting the still. When used this way, the serendipity is arguably lost. Why not take a video and use a screen grab instead?

I’m sure the creative among us will come up with fantastic use cases for Live Photo, but I can’t help but compare this to Instagram’s Hyperlapse. The standalone app represents incredible technology, but early reviews calling it a game changer were nothing more than, well, hype. And when’s the last time you saw a hyperlapse in your Instagram feed?

This isn’t an indictment of the feature. I’m excited that technology companies continue to push the envelope of what cameras and photography can be. But let’s not get carried away with our descriptions of what I’m convinced will be a niche feature.

But hey, maybe I’ll change my mind on Friday when I get my phone…

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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