Live Photos explained: How the new iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and SE camera feature works

Live Photos is one of the best new camera features on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. But how does it actually work and what can you do with it?

When Apple unveiled its two new smartphones to the world, we fully anticipated there’d be changes made in the camera department. We got more megapixels, the ability to shoot 4K video and we also got something called Live Photos.

If you already have a new iPhone nestling in your pocket, then you might be using the new camera mode without even knowing about it.

So what does Live Photos bring to the 6S and 6S party? We’ve spent plenty of time trying it out to see how well it works, the best way to shoot them and what you can do with them.

VIDEO: Trusted Explains – How do Live Photos work?

What is a Live Photo?

If you’ve used a Lumia phone recently, then it’s very similar to the Living Images mode. It’s not something new but simply Apple putting its own unique spin on it.

How exactly does it work?

Using either the front-facing or rear-facing cameras, with Live Photos mode turned on, the camera will take a photo and record a 3-second MOV video file at the same time. That’s 1.5 seconds before and after the static photo to create the Live Photo.

Do Live Photos work on the iPhone SE?

Yes, Live Photos are one of the features of Apple’s brand-new mini sized, 4-inch iPhone SE. But, there’s a catch. As the dinky phone doesn’t have 3D Touch, you actually have to long press on a snap to make it move, rather than just 3D Touching it. Everything else though, seems to be the same.

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What can you do with them?

You can also now share Live Photos on Facebook and Tumblr. Uploading a Live Photo to Facebook is the same as a regular photo, but there’s an option to use the moving version during the upload process. Viewing Live Photos on Facebook isn’t restricted to just iPhone 6S users, as anyone can view them.

How do you take a Live Photo?

To take one, open the Camera app and make sure the circular icon in between the HDR and timer options is illuminated. If it’s not lit up, tap to turn it on. Next, point your camera and take a picture as normal. Keep your phone stationary for two-three seconds and wait until the yellow coloured viewfinder appears and then disappears.

How do you view a Live Photo?

Apple says you can also view Live Photos on other iOS 9 devices like the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch running OS 2, and Macs packing OS X El Capitan.

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In the OS X 10.11.4 beta, Apple added support for Live Photos in the Messages app.

We’re still playing around with our Apple Watch to see how it works, but here’s how you can do it on older iPhones and compatible Macs.

Viewing Live Photos on other iOS 9 devices

We’ve tried this taking a Live Photo on an iPhone 6S Plus and sending it via iMessage to an iPhone 6 and it does work.

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View Live Photos on Macs running on OS X El Capitan

Find the Live Photos you want to share (look for the circular icon to identify them) and import them just like you would with a normal photo. Once that’s done, go to your photo library and look for the image. You’ll be able to hover the mouse cursor over the thumbnail to animate the photo or open it take it full screen and click on the image to play.

What quality is the Live Photo captured in?

The short video created is recorded at a not so impressive sounding 15fps. In comparison, shooting a full HD video on the new iPhones can be shot at a maximum 60fps.

How big are the Live Photo file sizes?

How can you share Live Photos?

As we mentioned above, you can share Live Photos through Facebook and Tumblr and viewing isn’t restricted to iPhone 6S users.


How can your turn off Live Photos?

Live Photos is turned on as a default and you can tell it’s on by the illuminated icon on the camera app. It looks like a little sun if you’re struggling to spot it. Tap on it and the ‘Live Off’ notification should flash up at the top of the screen.


Should you keep Live Photo mode turned on all the time?

Does Live Photos work with third party apps?


Tips on taking a good Live Photo

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The other thing you need to remember is to keep your phone in position after a picture has been taken. It’s a natural reaction to take a picture with your new iPhone and immediately move the phone down. If you do that with Live Photos then you’ll end up with a lot of Live Photos finishing up with a shot of your feet. So keep that phone in position like you’re taking a video and you should be all good.

Live photos and iOS 9.1

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