Motion Stills on iOS is meant to be a really easy way to turn the iPhone’s Live Photos into shareable GIFs — and it’s pretty great at that. But Android doesn’t have Live Photos, so the new Motion Stills is basically just a camera app that exports GIFs.
The app can take two different types of shots. The first, which Google calls a “motion still,” is just a three second video loop. It’s kind of puzzling, because it seems like this is meant to be an alternative to Live Photos — it even records the same length of footage. But there’s not actually a photo involved. Which is weird, because the feature is called “motion still,” but there is only motion, and no still.
The second type of shot is called a “fast forward,” and this one is a little more interesting. It’s basically a Google-made alternative to Instagram’s Hyperlapse app, which has never been brought to Android. Like Hyperlapse, Google’s fast forward mode lets you record a video, then automatically stabilizes that video and can speed it up from twice to eight times the original speed. In a nice touch, you can keep changing the fast forward speed even after the video is shot and saved, whereas Instagram’s app only gives you one chance to choose a video’s speed.
This is far from the only option for taking hyperlapse-style shots on Android. Microsoft even released an app called Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile. Google’s option seems to work well enough, though it took a minute for the app to process a video I took that was only about 25 seconds long. Its stabilization doesn’t look great at lower speeds, either — though faster motion seems to hide the jumpiness.
I’m kind of confused why Google didn’t just make this into an alternative camera app that took Live Photos, then let people who wanted them make it their default shooting app. As it is, I can’t really see myself ever using this, unless I wanted to make a hyperlapse. There are plenty of ways to make GIFs on mobile already — and others are way more fun. Google even has a bunch of more interesting creative options in Motion Stills on iOS, like an option to make cinemagraphs and add moving text, but neither of those made it to Android.