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  • 12.21.15

Facebook Supports Apple’s Live Photos

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’s little moving images are getting a huge new distribution channel.

By default, when you snap a picture with Apple’s iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, what you get is a Live Photo: an image that includes about 1.5 seconds of motion and audio before and after you pressed the shutter button, capturing a moment in action. Apple prefers not to call the results a video, but what they are, essentially, are tiny videos in a proprietary file format.

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And now those moments in action are about to get a lot easier to share. Facebook is announcing that it’s begun introducing support for Live Photos in its app for the iPhone and iPad, allowing users of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus to upload Live Photos from their devices. The feature will be available to just a small percentage of members at first, and will gradually roll out to more.

Uploading (left) and viewing (right) a Live Photo in Facebook’s iPhone app

People who are included in the app rollout and who view those photos on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 will see the photos you shared as Live Photos. Everybody else–such as those with Android phones, Macs, or Windows PCs–will just see a conventional still picture and be none the wiser.

For Apple, convincing the world’s largest social network to implement a feature specific to its latest devices and those running its newest operating system is a coup. It should get a lot of folks more interested in Live Photos in general–which, besides helping iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users get more out for their phones, may help tempt those with older iPhones to upgrade.

The news follows in the wake of Tumblr’s announcement of Live Photos support earlier this month. The next obvious frontier for the feature is another Facebook-owned service: Instagram. For now, the only way to get a Live Photo onto Instagram is to use a third-party app that converts it into a tiny standard video. But if Facebook is interested enough in Live Photos to support them in Facebook itself, there’s probably a pretty good chance it’ll eventually roll them into Instagram as well.

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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