Here come Live Photos: Apple sells 13 million iPhone 6s/Plus over first weekend

Apple iPhone 6 and 6S

Apple iPhone 6 and 6S

Apple Inc., Cupertino, Calif., said it has sold more than 13 million new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models in  three days after launch.  The new iPhones will be available in over 130 countries by the end of the year.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus introduced Live Photos, which bring still images to life, transforming instants frozen in time into unforgettable living memories.

Apple breathes life into old idea with Live Photos

Apple iPhone 6 and 6S

Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus feature force-touch screens

Apple Inc. once again grabbed headlines with its fall product announcements, primarily about new hardware, like the AppleTV, the iPad Pro and two new iPhones, the 6s and the 6s Plus. Coverage of the new products has been, well, extensive to say the least, so we thought we would look at the photo-specific features of the announcements.

The new iPhones support Force Touch, already found on MacBooks and the Apple Watch, but this version is called “3D Touch” because it has varying levels of sensitivity. Apple calls two new gestures — Peek and Pop — to let the user “dip in and out” of content without their place. For example, pressing lightly to “Peek” at a photo, and press a little harder to Pop “open” the photo itself.

Apple also updated the camera hardware onthe new iPhones, featuring a 12-megapixel sensor with advanced pixel technology and Apple-designed image-signal processor; and a new 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera and “Retina Flash” (which momentarily makes the display three times brighter with True Tone lighting, for illuminating low-light selfies).

One of the more interesting iPhone 6s camera features was Live Photos, which are 12-megapixel images with a short video component. Basically, the camera records a second-and-a-half worth of images both before and after the shutter press, and then plays the images with a 3-D Touch. At the press conference, Apple execs said these are not videos, but actual 12-megapixel images presented in succession, with sound. Live Photos can also be viewed as a watch face on Apple Watch.

While Live Photos was presented as a new, compelling feature, similar features have been available from other camera makers. For example, Panasonic calls this “4K Photo Pre-burst mode” on its Lumix G7, while makers like Casio and Sony have used pre-burst images to ensure the subjects are smiling. So Live Photos is not a technologically new idea, but Apple will do much to popularize this concept.

Here is a video demonstrating the Live Photos feature:


For video, both of the new iPhones offer HD and 4K video recording; the iPhone 6s Plus adds optical image stabilization to video recording.


Suite 48 Analytics describes what’s driving the photo-app market

Advances in smartphone hardware, APIs and native apps are driving third party photo app vendors to new frontiers

Native smartphone camera apps do much more than enable basic camera functions. These apps include features such as HDR, burst, dual focus/exposure points, exposure compensation and panoramic image capture that were once the exclusive domain, and the main value proposition, of third-party camera apps. While this might appear to doom prospects for these third-party camera apps, Reinventing the Camera App Market, the latest study from mobile-photography research firm Suite 48 Analytics, comes to a different conclusion.

Late last year Google and Apple substantially enhanced their smartphone camera APIs, giving camera app developers a whole range of opportunities to access the improved capabilities of the newer phones’ hardware, and in doing so differentiate their products from native camera apps. According to the study, which analyzes 21 top-selling or otherwise notable camera apps and includes the perspectives of key executives at developers leading the market, numerous apps have already taken advantage of these advanced APIs with many more soon to come.

“As smartphone cameras get better and better, mobile photographers’ expectations for photo quality have likewise increased – they’re demanding better smartphone photo capture tools,” says Hans Hartman, president, Suite 48 Analytics and report author. “That sounds like an obvious statement, but it hasn’t always been the case. For a long time, smartphone photographers were willing to live with lower resolution, grainy, or otherwise low-quality photos, as long as they could still make these photos look enticing through filters from apps like Hipstagram and later Instagram. Going forward, filters are an option for creative expression – not a requirement to make the photos worth keeping or sharing.”

The study concludes the camera app market has become a “long tail” market, served by three main categories of apps:

  • Camera apps offering SLR-like control of the smartphone camera, such as A Better Camera, Camera+, Manual, or ProCamera 8 + HDR.
  • Camera apps focusing on ease-of-use, such as Z Cameraand Camera51.
  • Specialized camera apps with specific use cases, such as CamFindFast Burst Camera, Slow Shutter Cam, or Mobile Hidden Camera.

“The implications of advanced cameras embedded in current and new categories of mobile devices, coupled with enhanced camera apps that leverage the programmatic access to these devices, will be examined in depth in the Disrupting Through Hardware panel discussion at the upcoming Mobile Photo Connect conference, an executive conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the mobile photography ecosystem.

The free Reinventing the Camera App Market white paper can be downloaded at

Apple updating iOS photo storage and sharing

apple iOs photo

The maker of arguably the most popular camera (the iPhone, that is) debuted upcoming additions to its mobile and desktop operating systems that will make seeing and sharing photos easier.

In a presentation demonstrating OS X Yosemite and iOS8, Apple showed off new cross-platform compatibility, as well as extended cloud-based image storage. Both operating systems will be free this Fall.

“With iPhone, people are taking more photos and videos than ever,” the company says. “As photo collections grow, so does the desire to store them all safely and still access them whenever and wherever. That’s where the new Photos app and the new iCloud Photo Library come in. You’re never without your camera. Now you’ll never be without your photos. Every photo and video you take now lives in iCloud — giving you the freedom to access your library from any device, anytime you want. So you can view a photo from last week or last year no matter where you are.”

While only 5GB of online storage will be free, Apple will be encouraging its customers to have every photo (“your precious memories”) stored in its iCloud, at a rate of $1 per month for 20GB, or $4 per month for 200GB. iCloud Photo Library will “automatically keep all your photos and videos in iCloud, at full resolution in their original formats, including RAW files. You can access and download them anytime from your iPhone…” The service can also reduce the file size of the display images left on the phone, freeing more space to hold a viewable version of all photos.

apple ios enhance

Organization, Edit, and Sync
The iCloud Photo Library keeps photos and videos organized into Moments, Collections, and Years across all devices.
When edits and enhancements are made on a photo on one device, they will be replicated and viewable across the library, on any device. Edits are nondestructive, “so you can always revert back to your original if you change your mind.”
New composition tools can automatically straighten horizons and provide “ideal” crops. Smart adjustments can modify overall light in a photo, adjusting exposure, brightness, contrast, and more.
Also new will be a time-lapse capture capability, “snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals.”

Apple also briefly demonstrated a unified photo application for its desktop OS X Yosemite, but said it will not debut until next year.

There’s more information here.


Apple, Google to co-purchase Kodak imaging patents?

Apple and Google teamed to offer more than $500 million to buy Kodak’s  imaging patents, Bloomberg reported late last week.

With their  leading smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android, the two companies have dominant positions in mobile imaging, and doubtless would rather not face patent infringement claims from any potential rival buying Kodak’s intellectual property.

It’s not an uncommon move: Apple worked with Microsoft and Research in Motion to acquire 6,000 patents for $4.5 billion from bankrupt Nortel Networks last year.

Kodak, in the midst of bankruptcy and reorganization, seeks to sell 1,100 imaging patents.

Kodak has claimed the patents may be worth more than $2 billion, but others counter the patents are already too widely licensed to be of much further value.

More on the story is here.