Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

How to post Android motion/live pictures to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc)

It has been possible to share “Live” photos (the Harry Potter-esque ones) from iOS devices to (some) social media for a while now, but not Android’s equivalent “Motion” photos. That was until a fairly recent change to Google Photos.

First, open the Google Photos app on your phone – the required option doesn’t seem to be available via the Web interface. Find the motion photo you want; motion ones are either already moving or have “Motion off” and a pause button in a circle top right – click that to auto-play them. Then click the … (top right) and go to Export. Generally you want to export as Video since they are smaller and higher-quality1, though for some social networks you need GIF (see below). I suggest leaving “Keep stabilisation” ticked as it will reduce the size of the output.

This will create a copy of your original motion photo which appears to the left of the original (swipe right). These files are going to be pretty big, often over 10MB, because they are basically short videos. Therefore you’ll probably not be able to post them via tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, but they can interfere with image uploads anyway. If you want to share from your PC/laptop then just go to Google Photos on the Web and the new video/gif will be there (assuming you have opted to instantly upload everything) and can be downloaded then re-uploaded, or shared from there. You’ll probably just want to share straight from your phone, so click the share icon (bottom left) on the exported copy and select your social media network of choice!

In my testing the various social media networks I tried behaved differently and for some you need to use GIF rather than video if you want it to auto-play and keep looping:

* Twitter: Video works (keeps looping), GIFs sometimes too big (>15MB).
* Facebook: Video works (keeps looping), GIFs also work but lower quality.
* Instagram: Video fails, but if you use GIF the Instagram app converts it and then you can share (and it loops).
* LinkedIn: Fails with no reason, both GIF and video. Possibly too short?
* Google+: Only GIFs will auto-play and keep looping on the feed.

1. Side note: Video vs. GIF

Although now widely used for short video, animated GIFs were really not designed for the purpose! First, they can only have 256 colours on each frame/tile since they were designed for graphics or logos, not photos with colour gradients. Second, they are not optimised for video so each frame is encoded individually. Proper video encoding intelligently recognises elements which don’t change from one frame to the next, essentially compressing the video as a three-dimensional matrix rather than a series of 2D matricies. The net result is that using GIF for videos means lower quality output and much larger file sizes.

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