You got your iPhone 6s with 3D Touch and you’ve been experimenting with your shiny new device like I have. Live Photos in particular are pretty cool. When the feature is enabled, your iPhone will capture 1.5 seconds before and 1.5 seconds after every photo you take. Then when you go back into your Photos library to view your shots, they’ll animate for those three seconds when you 3D Touch on the photo. It’s like some weird, futuristic function in which all photos are secretly short videos.
You show the Live Photos you’ve taken with your friends who don’t have an iPhone 6s yet. They’re amazed, as mine were. They ask you to send the photos to them. Uh oh… that’s where things get a little complicated. Since Live Photos require 3D Touch to view and 3D Touch is only available on the iPhone 6s, can only 6s users experience Live Photos? Erm, yes and no.
Sending Live Photos from iPhone 6s to iPhone 6s
This isn’t a long section because basically sending a live photo from iPhone 6s to another iPhone 6s is almost like anything else. For instance, if you want to send a photo in an iMessage, either go to Messages or Photos and insert the photo. It won’t be animated at first like an animated GIF would be.
On that same front, the receiver will just see a standard photo when they get it, except with the word “Live” watermarked in small print. That’s how the receiver knows that they can forcefully press on the photo to activate 3D Touch and view the Live Photo animation.
Sending Live Photos to Other Apple Devices
You can also send a Live Photo to almost any other iOS device running iOS 9, they’ll just animate a little differently. On these other devices, a small circle will appear at the top of the photo, indicating that the user can press and hold the photo (rather than 3D Touch it) to play the Live Photo animation.
The list of compatible iOS devices for Live Photos is as follows: iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, fourth-generation iPad, third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, fifth-generation iPod touch and sixth-generation iPod touch.
Note: On any devices other than the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus (or newer) you won’t be able to actually capture Live Photos — just view them.
Apple Watch Live Photo watch faces will animate when you raise your wrist. You can also set animated Live Photos as a wallpaper on iPhone 6s to then play with 3D Touch.
On a Mac, OS X El Capitan supports Live Photos in the Photos app. If you have a compatible Mac with a Force Touch trackpad, you can Force Touch the photo to play the animation.
Live Photos in Third-Party Apps
The iOS 9.1 Live Photos API will also allow third-party app developers to incorporate Live Photos in their apps, according to the Apple’s developer kit. This means that if you’re using Facebook, you’ll be able to view Live Photos in the Facebook app or potentially edit a Live Photo in Pixelmator. Of course, it’s up to the developer to incorporate the APIs necessary to make this a reality.
In iOS 9, Live Photos only work in Apple’s own apps. Don’t get your hopes up about Live Photos coming to Android, either. With the iOS API, Google is more than welcome to enable Live Photos in its iOS apps, but it’s doubtful that Apple will let Android users get in on the iPhone 6s fun.
If you have an iPhone 6s, get snapping. Tap the Live Photo icon at the top of the Camera app to enable Live Photos.