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Unless you’ve been living under an analog rock and have zero interest in the world of modern technology (which probably doesn’t apply to you since you are reading this post on a gadget site), then you’ve surely heard about the new iPhone 6s and how it comes with some newfangled features. One of these is called Live Photos, which actually combines a couple of other features.

Basically, when you switch over to Live Photos in the camera app, you can take a picture like how you normally would. The difference is that your iPhone 6s will also capture the three seconds before and the three seconds after you take that photo. When you go back to review these images, you can utilize 3D Touch to effectively watch a little video of those few moments.

You might think that your iPhone is continuously recording a video in order for Live Photos to work, but it’s not. Well, not really. Instead, what it’s doing is running in an almost continuous burst mode. It keeps taking pictures the whole time you’re in Live Photos. Then, when you hit the shutter button, it grabs some of the stills that precede and follow your chosen shot, combining them all and compressing it into your single “live” photo.

Through this compression, each of your live photos will take up twice as much space as a regular 12MP still, even though it really contains more than two photos’ worth of data, so to speak. I imagine the “extra” frames aren’t being saved at the full 12MP resolution or likely even at 4K in order to keep the file sizes a little more manageable.


While the actual application of Live Photos is a little different, the notion of your smartphone taking continuous pictures isn’t new. Going as far back as the Samsung Galaxy S III from three years ago, we had a mode called “Best Photo” where you hit the shutter once, the burst mode would fire off 8 consecutive images, and you’d pick the best one to save. Sort of like how that new Pencil doesn’t exactly reinvent the stylus either.

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