Google’s Motion Stills is the new app from Google that is supposed to help you create GIF images easily. I haven’t tried it yet. So I won’t be able to say for sure if ‘easily’ is just figurative. Or just comparative when pitted side by side with the traditional ways of making GIFs. Though I like them a lot, I have never being able to get the hang of how to make GIF images. They are really tricky to make. That is why I think an app like Motion Stills is long overdue. According to Google, with just a few clicks you can create GIFs from your photos and images. And one or two clicks later, you cab easily share your new creation to your friends in Facebook or any other social media.
At this point, the news is just awesome. However, Motion Stills is only available to users of iOS devices. Which is a bummer because, my dream of creating amazing GIFs just went south with that simple fact. I am not ready to invest in an iPhone just yet. Or ever. And Motion Stills isn’t the app to make me switch over to an iPhone. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Google has joined the campaign on reasons we should buy an iPhone.
How Motion Stills Works
Using what it calls video stabilization technology, the app is capable of freezing the background of Apple Live Photos. Then it arranges them to create instant GIFs. Within the app, users can edit multiple Live Photos clips the way they want. Should be fun. Read how Google explained the whole technology behind the process in the blog post announcing the arrival of Motion Stills:
We pioneered this technology by stabilizing hundreds of millions of videos and creating GIF animations from photo bursts. 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.”
An iOS-only App
Perhaps, the Live Photos app on iOS devices made it easier for Google to develop Motion Stills for iPhone only. Since Live Photos are almost like moving pictures, it would be easier to manipulate the frames of the images into GIFs.
It is worth mentioning though that this penchant for creating iOS-only apps is beginning to take root in Google. This is the second time in a month Google is creating an app that is compatible with iOS devices only. Back in May, Google launched the Gboard. An iOS-only app that makes it easier (that word again) to share search results with others. With the Gboard installed, the phone’s keyboard would now have an embedded search engine.
With an app like Motion Stills, there are so many things users can do. In so many exciting ways. And since the app is a standalone app, without sign-up or Internet connection needed, it is bound to become very popular in a very short time. For users, what would stand between them and getting maximum satisfaction is their creativity.
For now, Google is still tweaking the app to make it better. So an update to the app is likely to come out soon enough. That is if Google decides not to kill it. Which is something that normally happens with new apps. For Android users like me, I hope it stays till I’ve used it a bit. Though Google did not give a specific date, they promised to develop an Android version of the app soon. It would be made to integrate with apps like Google Photos.
photo credit: yale.edu; research.googleblog.com