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A detailed look at how one of iOS 8’s best new features works

Published Sep 23rd, 2014 3:55PM EDT
iOS 8 Time-Lapse Feature
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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It might not have made our list of the five best new features on iOS 8, but time-lapse is definitely a fun addition to the Camera app on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. If you haven’t had a chance to try out time-lapse yet, it allows you to condense a video of any length to a bite-sized time-lapse video which speeds through the footage in seconds. All you have to do is press record.

As Apple notes on its website, “iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals.” Dan Provost of Studio Neat figured that Apple must have employed some advanced methodology in order to produce a smooth, high-quality video without requiring any input from the user. After running a few tests, Provost discovered something surprising — Apple’s technique isn’t complicated at all.

“What Apple means by ‘dynamically selected intervals’ is they are doubling the speed of the time-lapse and taking half as many pictures per second as the recording duration doubles,” he writes. “Sounds complex, but it’s actually very simple.”

In other words, in a 5 minute recording, the iOS 8 Camera captures 2 frames every second, which results in a relative speed 15x faster than real time. A video between 10 and 20 minutes will be captured at 1 FPS at a 30x relative speed. These rates keep increasing as the length of the video increases.

Provost recorded a 5-minute video and a 40-minute video in order to demonstrate the difference between the two:

5 Minutes

40 Minutes

Apple’s first-party time-lapse might not be as feature-rich as many of the apps on the App Store, but its simplicity is its most appealing trait. Try it out if you haven’t yet and see if your videos turn out as well as Provost’s.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.