Google’s amazing new iPhone-only app converts Live Photos into stabilized GIFs and movies


Google Motion Stills app iOS

Most Android users by now have come to terms with the fact that some apps are built solely for the iPhone. While this practice has been commonplace (more so when it comes to video editing), it’s just one of the realities we have to deal with when we consider Android’s vast hardware ecosystem. Even then, there’s no denying it stings a little more than usual when it’s an iOS exclusive app released by Google.

Motion Stills before after

Today, Google has launched an app called Motion Stills into the App Store. The app converts Live Photos on the iPhone into beautifully stabilized GIFs or video, allowing you to share them in all their glory via the social network of your choosing. It’s what Live Photos should have been all along and highlight a huge missed opportunity by Apple to capitalize on them.

What’s more is how easy Motion Stills makes it to combine these fully stabilized Live Photos into a single movie, complete with sound and all done completely on your phone — no internet connection needed. Simply swipe your Live Photos to the left and they’ll be added to a reel at the bottom of the screen. Click share and you’re done, it’s that simple.

Google says they’re using special technology not too unlike what we’ve seen from them on YouTube (for creating stabilized video) and Google Photos (for combining photos into GIFs). Here’s the technicals behind it as posted on the official Google Research Blog:

“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 videogame.”

The app really is that good and I was more than impressed by the magic it performed by making some of my Live Photos appears as if they were shot on a tripod. Take a look at a sample photo I took down below to see for yourself and if you’re interested, you can download the app for free right now via the App Store.


Of course, there was no word on whether this app would be coming to Android. Again, with the vast hardware differences, it’d be tough to get this working properly (unless exclusive to Nexus devices). We imagine we could see Google Photos offer something similar, using Google’s cloud computing to put it altogether, but for now it’s looking like this is iOS-only for the foreseeable future.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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