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Google's Motion Stills App Finally Makes Live Photos Cool

The first thing that appeared when I downloaded Google's new Motion Stills app was a warning: I had no live photos to work with. My iPhone 6S Plus has the capability to make Apple's video-photo hybrids, but like many with the latest phones, I just never saw the use. Google's Motion Stills app for iPhones might just change that.


The app makes it easier than ever to share live photos with others through just about any platform you imagine. If you email or text a Live Photo to a friend, it will show up to them as an easily consumable GIF, no 3D Touch required. Heck, you don't even need an iPhone to see them. I see thousands of iPhone owners suddenly on the hunt for the next meme.

The other feature Motion Stills offers is the ability to stitch together your Live Photos into a .MOV file. It's far less fun.

I walked around our New York office to make a Motion Stills tour. With views of my desk, the newsroom, our coffee machine and the door to the Tom's Guide lab, I had plenty to work with. But when I accessed the app, I was momentarily confused. There's no real instructions, just a scrollable view of your Live Photos, each playing on loop like an Instagram fun house.

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Tapping on a Live Photo brings you to a menu where you can adjust the sound and zoom, as well as share your photo as a GIF or video. Swiping photos to the right adds them a timeline at the bottom of the screen, adding it to a movie. Playing the clip gives you an option to upload the video to YouTube or share it socially.

I didn't care for the video, which came out sideways on my computer and looked like a poor compendium of Vines that you often find on YouTube. The GIFs, though, were super easy to make. Once I figured out the interface, I found making GIFs to be an amusing diversion.

Still, I don't think I'll be using Motion Stills all of the time. While Google's app solves Apple's sharing problem by using a more universal format, Live Photos still take up a ton of space on an iPhone. And when I want to snap a still, I usually want just that. But for those looking for something fun to toss up on Reddit or Tumblr, Motion Stills just made turning everyday moments to GIFs easy. It's a great tool.