Apple may be planning to kick its Live Photos feature up a notch. The company has been granted a patent (number 20170017616) for “dynamic cinemagraph presentations.”
Live Photos on an iPhone or iPad records what happens 1.5 seconds before and after you take a picture. The result is a still image with brief video. Cinemagraphs are still photos in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. They are published as an animated GIF or in other video formats, and can give the illusion that the viewer is watching an animation.
Apple’s patent involves the ability to create a document with several candidate cinemagraph presentations for display. In some cases, the animation can include moving objects, changing colors in a scene, and/or appearing/disappearing objects in the scene. In some embodiments, the cinemagraph images loop iteratively or continuously. They can also be animated clips defined in a common video format.
In the patent filing, Apple says the competition between content publishers for the attention of the online viewers is quite aggressive because there are so many sources for the same type of content available through the Internet. In this competition, publishers need to differentiate their content from that of other publishers. Publishers also need to capture the viewers' attention to their content quickly. Apple thinks dynamic cinemagraph presentations is one way to accomplish this.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.