The iPhone 6s, Apple’s latest flagship phone, comes with a new feature called Live Photos that automatically creates a movie embedded in each picture you take of the seconds before and after the shot.
It appears on the surface to be a simple, cutesy addition, but it’s one of the best Apple has added in years. Live Photos are a powerful way to capture memories, and are implemented in a way that triggers nostalgia whenever you see one.
Our cat on Christmas day
When I first got the iPhone 6s, I enabled it, tried it out and promptly forgot about it for a while. But eventually, after taking a lot of photos and coming back to look at them later, I realized how awesome it really is.
With Live Photos enabled, each picture is a tiny time capsule with a memory inside that can be triggered by pushing a little harder on the screen.
Each photo animates slightly as you flick through the gallery, giving you a hint of what’s underneath. Spot a nice shot and wondering what the moment felt like? Just press and hold on the screen.
I can relive a snippet of a CHVRCHES concert, our kitten growing up, or a vacation with my girlfriend as I flip through my camera roll.
The feature has existed in various forms in the past, such as BlackBerry 10’s ‘Time Shift’ mode or HTC’s Zoe, but none of them were designed in a way that triggered memories like this, instead angling them toward pro users who wanted to edit photos.
It’s my favorite Apple feature in years, because it’s something that triggers an incredibly nostalgic, emotive response, without you actually needing to do anything.
The way the videos that are attached are low frame rate makes it feel like a dream. Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt wrote last year that nostalgia is a product designer’s secret weapon, and that genius shines through with Live Photos.
On the surface it’s a trivial, perhaps silly feature, but after using it for a few months I can say it’s changed the way I think about photography on my phone — because it viscerally triggers memories.
Live Photos are only young, and Apple doesn’t actually let you do much with them yet, but thanks to apps like Lively, you’re able to pull them out to share.
In the future, I think they’ll be one of the most popular ways of sharing from the iPhone.
A trip to San Francisco
You can see that the trend is beginning to stick with dedicated short video apps like Instagram’s Boomerang and Giphy Cam rapidly gaining popularity — what happens when every photo on your phone is a nostalgia loaded GIF?
Instead of just taking a picture, I can capture a moment without actually doing anything, and it’s a little bit magical.