First Click: Live Photos could be Apple’s most disruptive new announcement

September 10th, 2015


Imagine the influence you’d wield over photography if you made the world’s most popular camera. That’s Apple with its ubiquitous iPhone. So it’s a big deal when the company introduces a new feature that’s enabled by default on every photo taken.

Announced yesterday, Live Photos extends the moment of capture by a second-and-a-half on either side of the 12 megapixel stills snapped by the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. A Live Photo isn’t a GIF (it includes sound) and it’s not a video (motion is created using a "space efficient frame-to-frame technology"). It's something "new" from Apple and the results are pretty dramatic.

What’s more, Facebook will be supporting Live Photos in the iOS Facebook app this year. And Facebook owns Instagram. In 2014 the two combined for about 400 million of the roughly 1.8 billion photos uploaded and shared each day.

Sure, HTC had Zoe long before yesterday’s Apple event. But the difference between Zoe and Live Photos is the execution and scale. In typical Apple fashion, it's not first to use the tech but it stands a good chance of being first to make it popular. But what does that mean for photography when every moment captured will soon be a 3-second clip?

As my colleague Sam Byford mused today in The Verge Slack room, "what’s the point of Cartier-Bresson capturing ‘the decisive moment’ if you can just scroll through a few seconds on either side and change the composition? The power of a photo is in what isn’t shown."

So, if photography is about removing things. And if a single frame is the ultimate expression of a moment. Is a Live Photo even a photograph?

Apple Event: Live Photos premiere

Five stories to start your day

  1. Pokémon Go for iOS and Android brings Pokémon into the real world

    The Pokémon Company has announced a new mobile game called Pokémon Go, produced in collaboration with Nintendo and Niantic, the former Google subsidiary behind the Ingress augmented reality game. Pokémon Go looks to follow in the footsteps of Ingress, letting players find virtual Pokémon and do battle in the real world, powered by GPS. Niantic broke away from Google after the Alphabet reorganization; Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are making a joint investment in the now independent company.

  2. Google Wallet relaunches as a Venmo and Square Cash rival

    Google has decided to relaunch its Google Wallet app today ahead of the upcoming Android Pay rollout. The old Google Wallet was designed to be an easy way to load a digital account with cash for transferring money among friends or making online purchases. It was also a way to pay in-store using NFC terminals, similar to Apple Pay, and store gift cards and promotional offers, like Apple's Passbook. The new version, however, is tailored more as a competitor to services like Square Cash and Venmo, in which you tie in a bank account or debit card and can send money using your smartphone.

  3. A comic predicted Apple inventing Microsoft's Surface three years ago

    Sometimes people make predictions and they're terribly wrong, but every once in a while an oracle appears with a prophecy that predicts the future. Joel Watson, a cartoonist, is today's oracle. Watson captured the moment Microsoft announced its original Surface tablet, back in 2012, in cartoon form. The crowd's reaction simply mocks Microsoft's tablet, but Watson predicts the crowd at Apple's event (in 2015!) will love it and claim Apple invented such a device. It's Apple's reality distortion field in full effect. Genius.

  4. Startup claims its test finds cancer early, but where’s the evidence?

    A San Diego-based startup called Pathway Genomics released a blood test today that it says can detect mutations associated with multiple cancers. If true, the $699 test would be a big deal for medicine because it could be used to catch cancer before a person shows symptoms. But Pathway Genomics doesn’t have data that shows that the test actually works.

  5. Apple’s new upgrade program is the best way to buy the iPhone 6S

    Apple announced the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus today. And if you want one, Apple would like you to think that it's business as usual. You can preorder them starting September 12th, and they'll be available on September 25th. The 16GB iPhone 6S starts at $199 on-contract, and 64GB and 128GB versions will be available for $299 and $399, respectively. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus is priced slightly higher at $299, and it too is available in 64GB and 128GB options ($399 and $499, respectively). Easy.

Zooey of the day