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Coming to Your iPhone This Fall: An Easier Way to Make Time-Lapse Videos

Here's what they look like: Get ready for lots of videos of ice cream melting.


When Apple unveiled its new iOS 8 mobile operating system last month, only a fleeting mention was made of a new camera feature: A built-in, automated time-lapse photography mode.

Time-lapse photography itself isn’t new. It’s been used for well over a hundred years to create accelerated videos of slow-moving actions, like clouds moving, ice cream melting or flowers blooming. It isn’t even new to smartphone cameras. For instance, there are numerous apps for both the iPhone and Android phones that let you make time-lapse videos.

But Apple’s aim is to make what can be a tricky, mostly enthusiast feature much easier. And, by building it right into what is probably the world’s most popular smartphone camera, the technique is likely to be tried much more widely, by many more average photographers, who will no doubt be eager to share their creations with the world once the new operating system appears this coming autumn. You’ll likely see videos of sunsets and crops growing all over the Web, at least until the novelty wears off — for you, or for the photographers.

Here’s how Apple describes the new feature on its website (scroll way down to find it):

A new mode comes to Camera: Time-lapse videos. Capture the experience of the sun setting, a city street bustling, or a flower blooming with the new Time-lapse mode in Camera. iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals. The result is a video showing an accelerated sequence of the photos over time. Just set up your device to shoot what you want. Swipe to select Time-lapse mode, tap the Record button, and let Camera record as long as you choose.”

I haven’t tried the new feature, but I suspect that, no matter how easy Apple makes it, creating time-lapse videos will still be much harder than taking selfies or short videos of your baby. It requires time — taking many photos over days or weeks — and added equipment, like tripods.

Still, developers who have early access to iOS 8, which runs on existing iPhones as well as the new ones also due in the fall, are already fooling around with the feature and posting their work. Here are a couple of examples posted on YouTube.

The first comes from Italian Apple aficionado Domenico Panacea, who spent a week making it in Sicily for the website macitynet:

The second comes from another Apple devotee, who goes by the name of iTwe4kz:

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