Apple's Live Photos API released: why should you care?

Today Apple launched LivePhotosKit JS Live Photos API software for developers, enabling use in iOS apps, macOS, and on the web. Developers can utilize the new Live Photos SDK (software developer kit) with sample code – to do this, developers must download Xcode, which includes the SDK's for building apps that support Live Photos. Developers will also gain access to details on how to build app extensions and entire apps using the new Live Photos API. This is the first time developers have had access to Live Photos API since the first announcement of Live Photos back in September of 2015.

Live Photos are essentially tiny movies, captured by the iPhone in bursts of 3 seconds. Apple describes the recording to be "1.5-seconds before and after you take a picture." Apple describes this feature as "more than a great photo – but a moment captured with movement and sound." More important than the file it creates is how Apple devices handle it.

The "Live Photos" feature was first announced with the iPhone 6s, running on iOS 9 and up once launched. All iPhones from that point on had access to capture of Live Photos – so long as they were as powerful or more powerful than the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus. Users of iPhones 6s and up can capture a Live Photo with the standard Camera app.

An early problem for Live Photos was accidental capture of lifting or dropping of phones before and after photos. That was corrected not long after it was released. The entire thing can be turned off, too, with that button in the center of the options in the Camera app – the two solid rings inside two dotted-rings.

Those of you wondering if Live Photos are bigger than standard photos – yes and no. Yes, enabling Live Photos results in more space being taken up by the camera app. But no, because the space isn't being taken up by photo files, it's being taken up by the .MOV files that accompany them with Live Photos. Have a peek at this feature from the initial outrage.

To edit Live Photos, Apple's enabled editing in their standard Photos app. Tapping the three lines with dots on them inside any Live Photo in Photos will allow editing of several sorts. But it's all for naught unless everyone can see the result. That's why Apple is expanding the means with which Live Photos can be experienced fully.

Several popular apps have integrated Live Photos into their regular working schedule over the past couple of years. You can upload Live Photos to Facebook with ease. Users can also share Live Photos to Instagram with movement. With Apple's release of the Live Photos API, more than just the most popular apps will be able to join in on the fun.

For Developers that wish to take part in this release, there's the Live Photos for Developers page that Apple's made for clicking. Jump in on it and let us know what you've created!