When Apple introduced Live Photos last year it was a cool trick that lived only on Apple devices. Press down on a photo, and a couple of seconds of automatically recorded footage plays like a GIF with sound. Although Live Photos have slowly became available on third-party apps like Facebook, they've never been as universal as, say, GIFs. Now, though, the format is coming to the web for the first time — and it's all thanks to Tumblr.
Tumblr's code is available for any developer to use
The microblogging site announced yesterday that it's adding support for Live Photos on its website. "Whenever you see that famous Live Photo icon, click and hold to make them swing," is the official advice. More importantly, Tumblr has also published its back-end code on GitHub, meaning that other web developers can build support for Live Photos into their own sites as well. You can head over to Tumblr's announcement post to see how Live Photos look on the web. (We should note, some independent developers have made Live Photos work on the web before, but it was never easy or widespread.)
But will this move help Live Photos spread beyond mobile? It seems unlikely. While it's certainly good of Tumblr to add support (the site was also the first company to make Live Photos available on its iOS app), it's not clear if the format is a good fit for the web. Holding down a button to play a Live Photo is annoying when you're using to autoplaying GIFs and videos, and the little spool of footage isn't as smooth as the animation produced by, say, Google's Motion Stills (which also exports regular GIFs). Still, having support is better than not, we just wish Apple had offered this from the beginning.