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Get more out of Live Photos-style images – try these three apps now

Each new release of both iOS and the iPhone sees Apple hand us a whole bunch of new features. This is great, but it’s no secret these features can often be lacking somewhat in functionality. Sure, the new Force Touch capabilities are pretty awesome and the peek and pop notion already saves us a bunch of time in our email inboxes or while looking through Photos. However, what we’re really excited about is seeing what third party developers will come up with.

The same goes for Live Photos. Apple’s new type of photo sees the iPhone’s camera take a second and a half of video footage either side of the still image. It’s great to look back at your photos and gather a little more context on that point in time, but it’s hindered by the lack of sharing options. Only other Apple device users and Mac owners running OS X El Capitan can really get the chance to see these.

This is where Apple’s army of third-party developers comes in. Interestingly, rather than building on the current technology, many have now started taking the concept of Live Photos, and tweaking it to reach more people, either through shareability, or through a platform that doesn’t rely on the user having the most recent iPhone 6s.

Here’s a handful of early arrivals and what they can do to get short video clips out and into the world.

1. Boomerang from Instagram (Free)


Long-time image-sharing social media platform Instagram was one of the first to see potential in the Live Photos concept and create its own app. Like its parent company Facebook, Instagram is getting hooked on video, so this makes sense. However, unlike the majority of Facebook’s apps, like Slingshot, or the needless splitting out of Messenger and Pages Manager, Boomerang is actually a good app.

Boomerang does what many assumed Live Photos did, which was to use the iPhone’s existing burst function to stitch together and create a mini-video. Of course, Live Photos works through recording video and processing it at a reduced frame rate. However, Boomerang’s approach produces the same effect – but with an added bonus – the iPhone’s Burst mode was added to the iSight camera on the 5s, meaning a whole swathe of iPhone users can access the same functionality. Even better – it’s a standalone app and users don’t have to be an Instagram user, though it’s simple to share to Facebook and Instagram directly from the app.

App Store Download button

See how it works in the video below:

2. Live GIF ($1.99 / £1.49)


When Live Photos first came out many noted the concept as very similar to a GIF. A GIF (short auto-playable video image) may not be as high in quality as a Live Photo, but where it wins big is in its shareability, and the fact it’s easily embeddable on a web page.

It makes sense that an app like Live GIF has arisen – and it likely won’t be the last of its kind considering there are already a number of GIF-makers on the App Store. It would have been nice if Live GIF was able to transform non-Live Photo videos into GIFs, but no doubt many will use this for its intended purpose and other GIF makers will add that functionality soon.

The app’s super-easy to use: open it up, select a Live Photo from the options and tap on it. The App then creates the GIF, which you can share or save. There’s also an option to save it as a video if you’d prefer. Note: creating a GIF will strip out the audio featured in Live Photos.

Here’s one we made earlier:

Made with Live GIF

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3. Lean – Clean up your Live Photos (Free)


If you do have the latest iPhone and have been taking a bunch of Live Photos, you’ll notice that not all situations lend themselves to the mini-video. Furthermore, they take up about twice as much space as a regular snap.

Of course, we’re far too busy to be turning the Live Photo option on and off every time you want to take a photo. Lean is your solution. This app will quickly become invaluable, because it means you can keep Live Photos turned on at all times, and then when you need to free up a bit of space, simply open the app, check the photos you don’t really need a Live Photo for, and the app will save the still image, and delete the Live Photo. Simple!

Inexplicably, for such a useful app, it’s also free.

App Store Download button

4. Live Pictures Cam ($0.99 / £0.79)


Another app that takes the Live Photo concept and makes it even more customizable. Just like Apple’s integrated version, Live Pictures Cam has a camera which records video, and audio. Unlike Apple’s version, Live Picture Cam can be used by almost everyone – it’s compatible with the iPhone 4s and up.


Furthermore, it has a number of options which can be tweaked. Apple’s Live Photos are 15 fps, which gives a more jerky feel to them – it does this to keep the file size low. But what if you’ve got a 128 GB iPhone and want some extra quality? Live Pictures Cam allows 25fps. There’s also an option to increase the video clip length from 3 seconds to 4, 5, or 8 seconds. Finally, there are options to turn off sound and choose whether you want the still image captured at the start, middle, or end.

For a dollar, this is a great app that really delves into the possibility of the concept. Of course, it’s not entirely the same, and like many of these, is unlikely to grasp the same spontaneity that Apple’s built-in technology can. For example, Live Photos starts recording before the still image, whereas Live Pictures Cam can’t access the camera in that way, and only records once you’ve hit the shutter.

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