Twitter now allows iOS Live Photos to be uploaded as GIFs

iOS Live Photos need no longer be static! Twitter is ‘giving the gift of GIFs’ this Christmas allowing users to post their iPhone live photos as moving images
Twitter Tokyo
Twitter has 330 million active monthly users. Image: Flickr

Live photos – how they work

Apple’s live photos are a cross between a mini video and a moving picture. They wanted to ‘capture photos that come alive when you touch them’.

Taking, editing and sharing live photos is easy; but until now only between Apple devices that support the format. To take a live photo, simply open your iPhone camera, make sure Live Photo is enabled and snap away. This is the default setting.

To ‘playback’ a live photo, users hold their finger on the image. I like this feature, as it allows you to scroll through frames to choose your favorite moment! Ideal when you want a static photo of a lively baby, and don’t have an easy way of making them stay still…

Apple provides a number of effects to edit and play with your live photos, and they can be set as the lock screen wallpaper.

What is the difference between a live photo and a GIF?

In essence, they are very similar. Both are short moving images. However, they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Live photos take full-resolution 12-megapixel stills and include sound. A GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) produces 8 bits per pixel and has a limited 256 color palette and does not feature sound.

GIFs go right back to 1987 (which surprised me!) whereas live photos were launched by Apple in 2017.

The app stores offer apps that you can use to turn your live photo into a GIF, such as Lively.

Twitter & GIFs

Stats from October 2019 show that Twitter has ‘145 million monetizable daily active users’. Two billion videos are watched on Twitter every day. Tweets with video enjoy 10 times the engagement of those without, and 93% of videos on Twitter are watched on a mobile device.

As well as making it easier for iPhone users to share their live photos, there is a clear advertising factor.

GIFs are Tweeted in vast numbers, and adding the capacity to directly share live photos gives one more way of Tweeting video content, albeit in a slightly different format.

Live photo on the Apple iOS
iOS live photos can now be shared directly to Twitter. Image: Apple

So how does it work?

Super simple. To Tweet a live photo, select the option to add a photo from your camera roll as you normally would. Then choose ‘GIF’ in the bottom left-hand corner, and select your live photo.

Twitter users will see your live photo as a GIF (NB this means it will not have any sound) so in effect is converting your live photos into a GIF to be able to post it.

There have been quite a few changes at Twitter lately, and much as platform redesigns are often annoying and take time to understand to use, these all seem really useful. I’m not an iPhone user myself anymore, but I appreciate that this is a simple fix to make Twitter more fun.

With 330 million monthly active users on Twitter and 100 million iPhone users in the US alone, I am sure this simple update will be welcome news.

Do you use live photos? Will you use this new feature to be able to Tweet them? What other simple tweaks could Twitter implement to make it more fun to use? Share your thoughts with us!

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