Introduced with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Live Photos was a new iOS feature that created a more dynamic photo experience. Instead of being limited to the single shot that users see when they press the shutter button, the camera would capture several shots around that moment, allowing you to move a few seconds or milliseconds and choose a better timed picture. Another benefit was the creation of a small stop-motion or gif-like animation of the different photos, to capture the breadth of the moment instead of fixing one frame in time.
I liked the Live Photos idea and was certain that some enterprising Android developers would soon bring it to their third-party camera app. And so it has happened, over the holidays actually. While everyone was busy chanting Christmas carols and preparing the New Year's countdown on December 29th, Camera MX got its 3.4 update to add Live Shot, a Live Photos-like experience.
The Live Shot whirlpool icon sits in the app's toolbar shortcuts, between the Effects and Flash buttons. Once you switch to that mode, the camera will capture more footage from a few seconds before the shutter button is triggered and save them. The app's settings allow you to enable the feature and specify how far back in the past you'd like to be able to jump.
Once you take the photo, switch to Camera MX's built-in viewer and you'll see the shot displayed from the final frame. Tap and hold on it and it'll start looping through the different photos that were taken. That's where the "live" name comes from, since the photos feel less static and more alive when they cycle through different frames.
From there, you can delete the shot, which removes everything (final photo and Live Shot), edit, and share. The latter two options give you the choice of working with the still image or the Live Shot. Sharing a Live Shot converts it into an mp4 video that's easy to send across different applications, social networks, and messaging clients.
But if you don't like the complete result and want to edit your Live Shot, Camera MX has a dedicated interface for you. Swipe across the circle to view each separate frame's shot and move the left handle to choose a new starting point for the animation. This lets you get rid of superfluous frames or blurry ones and trim to the most interesting times of the video. You can save the final Live Shot, which overwrites the current one so be sure you're ready to let go of those first shots before you apply that edit. One more feature available is the ability to save any still image from the different frames as you swipe across them.
For now, Camera MX is lacking a bit of added control over the Live Shot option. For example, I'd like the option to trim the animation's end as well as its beginning, in case the last few frames weren't that good. Also, the still images captured before the main shot are 2MP on my Nexus 5X (whereas the last one is 12MP) and there doesn't seem to be a setting to pick a higher resolution. And finally, the shared video format can't be chosen as a .gif, it's watermarked, and it's looped a couple of times instead of being shown only once.
I haven't used Live Photos on iOS to compare Camera MX's features to it or see how responsive or better/worse it is. However, I do know that based on my expectations of the feature, I found Live Shot cool to play with and a nice new tool to add in my photography arsenal on Android. It works very well as a first iteration and Camera MX only crashed once while saving a Live Shot when I was pressing a few too many buttons on the screen at the same time. Since Camera MX is free on the Play Store, you can grab it and have a look yourself to see how well Live Shot works for you.