Livening Up Live Photos on Your iPhone

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

You see a live photo icon when you tap Edit on a photo shot with the Live Photo feature enabled on the iPhone 6s and later models. You can apply various edits to live photos, to both video and still images.

Thanks to iOS 11, you can trim the video that surrounds the captured image (the key photo). But think about it. With those extra snippets of video, Apple gives you the chance to choose a superior key photo, such as a frame in which your kid did not blink. Here’s how.

Select a Live Photo and tap Edit. A scrubber bar appears at the bottom of the screen. Slide your finger along the bar until you land on the frame you want. Tap Make Key Photo and then tap Done. As with other editing changes you make to an image, if you change your mind, tap Cancel and Discard Photos. By the way, you’ll know which frame Apple chose as the default key photo by the tiny dot above that frame.

You can also shorten the length of the video by tapping Edit and then using your finger to grab either end or both ends of the scrubber bar and squeezing the bar accordingly. The bar will turn yellow. When satisfied, tap Done.

But that’s not all. Apple introduced three fun special editing effects for Live Photos that we think are especially cool. Simply select your Live Photo by dragging up from the bottom of the image, and then tap Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure.

As you might imagine, the Loop effect plays the video continuously until you manually stop it. The Bounce effect is kind of funky: a scene that moves forward and then reverses. So a diver can appear to emerge from out of the water, or a batter returns to the batter’s box after he hits the ball.

The Long Exposure effect blurs the people or objects in motion in an image where other people and objects are otherwise stationary. The figure shows the effects of a Long Exposure applied to a Live Photo of a fountain in South Beach, Florida. The figure on the left shows the Live Photo before the Long Exposure editing effect is applied. In the figure on the right, the water from the fountain blurs while the background of the image is mostly unchanged.

iphone-live-photo
Before and after you apply the Long Exposure effect.

Apple allows third-party app makers to make their own filters and editing tools readily accessible from the Photos app. The last icon you’ll see before the word Done at the bottom of an editing controls screen shows three dots in a single circle. Tapping this icon lets you mark up a photo by using the Markup feature. It also gives you access to any third-party photo editors that you’ve added to the phone.

Not all photos are meant to be seen; some pictures are meant to be seen. Others, you can’t get rid of them fast enough. Fortunately, the iPhone makes it a cinch to bury the evidence:

  1. Tap the objectionable photograph.
  2. Tap to display the picture controls, if they’re not already displayed.
  3. Tap the trashcan icon.
  4. Tap Delete Photo (or Cancel, if you change your mind).
    The photo gets sucked into the trashcan and mercifully disappears. It’s also deleted from your iCloud Photo Library across all your devices.