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iPhone 6s Live Photos turn dead-flat on Dropbox, Flickr and Google Photos

Oscar Raymundo | Oct. 19, 2015
Popular photo storage apps do not support Live Photos, so you'll need to enable iCloud Photo Library to back them up in the cloud. Here's why that's a big problem.

iphone 6s live photos

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a grown woman nearly start to cry after she realized she had lost a year’s worth of photos from her iPhone. “Did you back them up?” Her friends asked as they gathered around her to try and comfort her. 

Ever since the iPhone became our defacto camera, walking around with our most precious photographic memories in our pockets has become somewhat of a risky proposition. Thankfully, a slew of third-party iOS apps have made it easy to backup and store our photo collections. We have cloud storage heavyweight Dropbox and its photo-specific iOS app offshoot Carousel. Most big web services have similar photo-storing apps, including Facebook’s Moments, Google Photos, Yahoo’s Flickr, Microsoft OneDrive, and Amazon Cloud Photos. And photo startups, like Shoebox and Everalbum, want to store our memories, too.

Unfortunately, if those memories are in the form of Live Photos, none of the aforementioned third-party iOS apps will save them. The only way to back them up is using iCloud Photo Library. That’s right: I have yet to find one third-party photo storage app that supports Live Photos, the moving JPEGs that the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus take by capturing the 1.5 seconds before and after you press the shutter. Live Photos can only be viewed on devices running the latest iOS 9 or on Macs running OS X El Capitan. And when you back them up to any photo service, all you get is a regular flat photo.

ios photo apps
So many awesome iOS photo apps. None of them support Live Photos.

When you try to backup a Live Photos to Dropbox or Google Photos, for example, the still JPEG gets uploaded, but you can’t deep press it to have it come back to life. And if you save the image back to your iPhone’s camera roll, all of its Live Photo magic will have been stripped away. So in order to back up your Live Photos (and all their Harry Potter-like wizardry) to the cloud, you have no choice but to enable iCloud Photo Library.

The impact on you: Could Live Photos, the most-loved new feature on the iPhone 6s, be Apple’s way of getting more people to enable iCloud Photo Library, pay for storage or start using the Photos Mac app? Who knows. But here’s hoping Dropbox, Google, or even Flickr start supporting Live Photos before I go over my free 5GB iCloud storage limit. Otherwise, I might just have to go back to taking those basic, boring, good-old dead photos.


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