How to View Live Photos in iOS 9

One of the new features in the iPhone 6s and 6s+ is the "Live Photos" feature, or as I like to call them, Harry Potter Pictures. To take one, you just have to enable the Live Photo option at the top of the camera, much like turning on flash or HDR options. After you do that, your photo will be a still photo, but it will include a low frame rate "video" of 1.5 seconds on either side of when you pressed the button for the photo. I have to put quotes around video because Apple says it is a Live Photo, not a video.

These are playable on other iPhone 6s or 6s+ devices if you send it via iMessage, and I tested one on an iPad Air (gen 1) and an iPad 3, and both worked fine. You can also play them on an iPhone 5s or higher. If you send it to an older device, or one not running iOS 9, all the recipient gets is the still image. On supported devices, there's a small circle at the top of the photo, and you can "long tap" or tap-and-hold on the image to make it play. If you want to share with those who are not running iOS 9, or perhaps are on a (gasp!) non-iOS device, LINK that's another story.

Below is a movie showing a Live Photo, sent via iMessage to a first gen iPad Air:

Basically, if your device will run iOS 9 you're in good shape. Here's the list:


  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s+
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6+
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4s


  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad 4th gen
  • iPad 3rd gen
  • iPad 2
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad mini


  • iPod touch 5th gen
  • iPod touch 6th gen

All of these devices will run iOS 9, so you should be able to see the Live Photos if they are iMessaged to you by using a "long tap" (aka tap-and-hold) on the image itself. On the screen and in the vicinity of the image won't work, you have to actually block part of the picture with your finger in order to see the picture.

Because that makes total sense.

Right now these photos are still sort of a mystery to Yosemite as well; they show up in Photos and the MOV file will play, but it doesn't seem to be related to the still image that was taken, it appears as a video file next to the photo. This is supposed to change in El Capitan, where Live Photos will be better handled by Photos, and hopefully play back on your Mac will be a nicer experience too.