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Google's new iOS-exclusive Motion Stills app turns Live Photos into shareable GIFs

Google just released a really cool new app... for iOS.

Published onJune 8, 2016

Motion Stills iOS

Google has just released a cool new app exclusively for iOS devices. It’s called Motion Stills, and it makes Apple’s Live Photos a little easier to share with other people.

Live Photos, in case you’re unfamiliar, are short little video clips that are captured before and after each photo taken with an iPhone camera. They’re sort of like animated GIFs, but can only be viewed on Apple devices. The problem is, Live Photos may be cool, but what if you want to share one of those with your Android-loving friend? Google’s Motion Stills app will convert Live Photos into animated GIFs (and also throw in some video stabilization technology) to make them much easier to share with everyone.

Here are two examples of a Live Photo before and after stabilization with Motion Stills:

Motion Stills iOS 2
Motion Stills iOS 1

How exactly does this whole thing work? I’ll let Google explain:

We pioneered this technology by stabilizing hundreds of millions of videos and creating GIF animations from photo bursts. Our algorithm uses linear programming to compute a virtual camera path that is optimized to recast videos and bursts as if they were filmed using stabilization equipment, yielding a still background or creating cinematic pans to remove shakiness.
Our challenge was to take technology designed to run distributed in a data center and shrink it down to run even faster on your mobile phone. We achieved a 40x speedup by using techniques such as temporal subsampling, decoupling of motion parameters, and using Google Research’s custom linear solver, GLOP. We obtain further speedup and conserve storage by computing low-resolution warp textures to perform real-time GPU rendering, just like in a video game.

Motion Stills is an app that lives on your device and requires no internet connection. You don’t even have to sign in to make it work.

So why is the app an iOS-exclusive? Google says this is a way to experiment and iterate quickly on the tech needed for short video creation. Based on user feedback, the company hopes to bring the feature into Google Photos.

Have an iPhone and want to give it a shot? Head to the App Store to download the new Motion Stills app.

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