Every iPhone since the 6S has had the ability to shoot Live Photos (a photo with the surrounding 1.5 seconds stored as video). There is nothing breakthrough about this ‘file format’, but I find them to be one of the nicest features of iOS. The video captured has a low frame rate (something around 15 fps) and takes up relatively little space. Unless you are completely void of storage space on your phone then I see no reason not to leave them enabled.

I wanted to write this post to share some uses of Live Photos that may be less apparent.

Instagram Boomerangs

Any live photo can be turned into a boomerang long after you took the photo. This is particularly nice as you can just quickly open the camera from your phone lock screen, take your pictures and later convert those live photos into boomerangs. To do this you need to go to the stories camera on Instagram, swipe up to view your camera roll, select a live photo and then press hard (3D touch) on the photo to turn it into a boomerang.

Google Motion Stills

This app is pretty simple but it can help you get much more use out of your live photos. You can convert them to GIFs, convert them to videos and also loop them. The best thing about this app though is it’s motion stabilizing. A shaky live photo can be perfectly still after be resaved as a Live Photo using Motion Stills. I regularly use this on my Instagram posts in order to get videos where only one part of the image is moving. I’ve also used the video export of this app quite extensively in order to create a holiday video where half the content was just the video portion of the Live Photos I took whilst away.


Darkroom has become my go-to photo editing app. I love not having to import photos, being able to batch edit efficiently and the fact that it properly uses Photos APIs so that you can ‘modify’ photos instead of saving a copy (I used to end up with multiple copies of photos I was editing in various apps). Recently the app added support for editing Live Photos, in that you can apply edits to a photo and those same edits are applied to the video portion of the Live Photo. I use a combination of this and Google Motion stills to create many of my Instagram posts.

The only caveat of using Darkroom and Motion Stills to create videos for posting on Instagram is that Instagram requires videos to be longer than 3-seconds. To get around this I created a simple app that queries your photos library for Live Photos. You simply tap on the photo you wish to post on Instagram and it will extract the video component of the LivePhoto, loop it as many times are required for you to get a 3 second video, and save it to your camera roll.