Apple was the first mobile manufacturer to popularize still/video hybrid files with its Live Photos that were introduced on the iPhone 6s. Google then launched the Motion Stills app to improve and stabilize Apple's Live Photos, and ported the system to the Android world soon after.

For the new Motion Photos feature on its latest Pixel 2 devices Google built on Motion Stills, improving the technology by using advanced stabilization that combines the devices' soft and hardware capabilities. As before, Motion Photos captures a full-res JPEG with an embedded 3 second video clip every time you hit the shutter.

However, on the Pixel 2, the video clip also contains motion metadata that is derived from the gyroscope and optical image stabilization sensors.

This data is used to optimize trimming and stabilization of the motion photo and, combined with software based visual tracking, the new approach approach aligns the background more precisely than we've seen in the previous Motion Stills system (which was purely software-based). As before, the final results can be shared with friends or on the web as video files or GIFs.

If you are interested in more technical details of the Motion Photos feature, head over to the Google Research Blog. A gallery of Motion Photo files is available here.