It’s been more than four years since Apple debuted Live Photos with the release of the iPhone 6s, and it looks like Twitter is finally getting with the program to allow iPhone users to share their creations on the social media network.
The move comes as part of a pretty big update to how Twitter handles photo uploads in general, suggesting that they may be overhauling and modernizing whatever systems are used to process photos on the back end.
According to an official tweet, iPhone users will now be able to upload Live Photos anywhere on Twitter that they can upload normal photos with the option of converting them to animated GIFs (which is fair since one can’t really expect Twitter to adopt Apple’s special way of handling Live Photos).
Still, Twitter is unbelievably late to the game here when you consider that it took Facebook and Tumblr only about three months to introduce support for Live Photos on their social media platforms.
After all, the technology of converting a short video clip to an animated GIF is hardly rocket science. Google also added support into its Google Photos app soon after, and later even began offering the ability to convert Live Photos to GIFs in its own Motion Stills app in 2016, offering a handy workaround for those who wanted to share Live Photos to services like Instagram.
How It Works
You’ll have to use the official Twitter app on your iPhone in order to upload Live Photos, but it’s otherwise pretty straightforward. While Live Photos will upload as stills by default, you’ll now be able to tap the “GIF” button in the bottom-left corner in order to turn your Live Photo into a GIF.
Like other GIFs, you won’t be able to apply filters or other effects to Live Photos, nor will you be able to tag people in them, but otherwise the process of sharing a Live Photo on Twitter should be pretty seamless.
Higher Quality Photos Too
In addition to support for Live Photos, Twitter also announced that it will no longer recompress JPEG files that you upload and share on its service, thereby preserving their original JPEG encoding and quality.
While most casual Twitter users aren’t likely to care, the prior insistence on transcoding images into lower-quality pictures understandably annoyed many serious photographers and artists who wanted to share their creations on Twitter.
With this change, Twitter will now preserve the original quality of any picture that’s below 8 megapixels in size, and in some cases even up to 16 megapixels, depending on aspect ratio. EXIF data and other metadata will still be stripped and discarded for privacy reasons, but this doesn’t affect the image quality.
That said, there are are a couple of caveats here. Firstly, the full-quality uploading is not (yet?) available from the mobile apps or even Twitter for Mac, so you’ll have to upload them directly via Twitter on the web. Further, thumbnails and previews will also still be transcoded, which makes sense since they have to be presented in a lower resolution anyway, so users will have to click through on photos in the Twitter timeline to see the full-quality image. Still, it’s a welcome change and may herald more photo improvements to come to Twitter’s media handling, which has apparently undergone some major improvements overall in 2019.