- By Integr8
There are numerous aspects to the iCloud service. It’s becoming more and more difficult to simply describe what iCloud does as a whole without causing even more confusion. In order to explain iCloud as best I can, I am writing a series of posts to cover the numerous features in more depth. I have found the majority of people I’ve helped describe their photos as being the most valuable piece of data on their iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and their computers. With this being the case, I will start the series off with how the Photos feature in iCloud works.
When iCloud was first announced in 2011, the Photo Stream was a big deal. This feature is still around today and works very much in the same manner. Photo Stream made it possible for you to take a photo with one device and have it available to you on your other devices. Apple even made it possible for this feature to work on a Windows computer as well. This was a really neat feature; however, it came with a lot of confusion. The Photo Stream showed up on your device as a separate album, and this album looked like it was permanently storing your photos. This isn’t actually the case. The Photo Stream is actually an album created to make photos available to other devices until you exceed 1000 photos or the photos surpass 30 days in age. If you reach the 1000 photo mark, the oldest photo is replaced with the most recent. In the case that a photo is older than 30 days, that photo will be removed from the Photo Stream album. In both cases, the photos will remain on the original device that took the picture unless you delete them yourself. Below is a a visual I created to help explain the process.
One thing I want to make sure you get from this explanation of Photo Stream is that the service is meant to give you a way to save photos to multiple devices wirelessly, without needing to transfer the photos to your computer then plug in your other devices. This is a great feature if you want to take a photo with your iPhone and then edit it on your iPad since it has a larger display. Photo Stream is just like an actual stream in the sense that it’s always flowing. You shouldn’t see the Photo Stream album as something storing your photos, instead save the photos from this album to a new album you create or your Camera Roll.
Before we move on, I do want to mention that for those using iPhoto on a Mac, there is a setting in Preferences that allows you to automatically save photos in your Photo Stream to your computer’s hard drive. This eliminates needing to plug your devices in to your computer to transfer the photos. Keep in mind that the computer must be turned on and connected to the internet for this to happen. This option is only available on a computer and not on a mobile device like an iPad or iPhone. You will need to manually save the photos from your Photo Stream to the Camera Roll to ensure they are stored on that particular device.
iCloud Photo Library (beta)
The iCloud Photo Library was just released this month. While there are some similarities between Photo Stream and Photo Library, there are some significant differences as well. We will cover those in a later section.
What exactly is Photo Library? This is a new feature of iCloud that allows storage of your photos on the iCloud servers, while your Apple devices and Windows computers have access to the most current version of those photos. This includes any editing done to a photograph or changes to the organization of your library. Following are some key features of iPhoto Library.
- Automatically upload your photos and videos to iCloud.
- Access your photos from iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and iCloud.com.
- Any edits made to a photo will appear on any other devices that has the Photo Library function activated.
- You are able to organize your library on one device and the changes will occur on your other devices.
- Label your best photos as favorites and have that reflect on your other devices.
I have created some visuals to help explain how Photo Library works.
The Photo Library works with iCloud.com and mobile devices keeping all your photos in sync. What you do in one location will now be reflected on your other devices. This brings us back to the difference between Photo Stream and Photo Library. This is important to understand because the two features can work together to ensure you understand where your photos are located, but if you don’t understand the differences, you will most likely feel like pulling your hair out.
When Photo Library and Photo Stream are both turned on in your iCloud settings, your photos can be stored in two different locations. The first location is the hard drive that is built in to your actual computer. You can access these photos without any sort of internet access. The second location is on the iCloud servers. The iCloud server is a hard drive that Apple maintains and protects in certain locations around the country. You can access these photos from your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone as long as you have an internet connection. You can also see these pictures using any computer with an internet connection by logging in with your credentials at www.cloud.com in your web browser.
Now that we know the different locations your photos can be stored, let me explain the first difference between Photo Stream and Photo Library. Photo Stream stores the photos on the physical hard drives of your computers and mobile Apple devices. What this means for you is that it is taking up storage space on your actual devices and any changes you make on one device will not show up on the other devices. This is because when you save a photo from photo stream, it makes a copy of it and stores it on your actual device instead of iCloud. On the other hand, the Photo Library stores your photos on iCloud servers. This means that you have one photo, stored in a central location that your different devices can all see and make edits too. In order for any changes to be seen by other devices, you will need an internet connection.
The last difference I’d like to inform you about is the time frame your photos are available on iCloud. We mentioned before that Photo Stream isn’t meant to store your photos on iCloud servers, but instead, it is meant to wirelessly transfer copies photos from one device to another. Photos in the Photo Stream Album are only there for 30 days or even less if there are more than a 1000 photos taken afterwards. The Photo Library; however, was created to actually store your photos. There is no time frame to worry about and you are only limited by the amount of storage you purchase for your iCloud storage. Think of it as having an extra storage device that Apple protects for you off site. This means that if your device was lost or stolen, those photos are stored someplace else allowing you to access them in other ways. As I said before, these two different services can be used together or you can choose one or the other. It all depends on your personal needs.
Now that we’ve covered Photo Stream and Photo Library and we’ve explored the differences, I’d like to touch on the last of the photo services offered through iCloud.
Photo sharing is a way to create an album of photos and videos that you’d like to invite a group of people to view. With the Holidays coming up, I know I’ll be using this to show the family members that couldn’t make it to the festivities just what they missed out on. Following are some key features of this service.
- The people who can view these photos are limited to those that you invite.
- Those who are invited are able to view, like, and comment on the photos and videos.
- Even if your family and friends don’t use iCloud, they will be able to view the chosen album via a web link.
- You and the subscribers of your shared album are able to contribute their own photos and videos as well.
This is a great feature to use if you are consistently sharing photos you take, with certain friends and family. It’s totally interactive and can take less time than texting or emailing a group of photos. The Holidays can be a perfect chance to test this out. If you have a family that you love and you want to show your friends why, get those Apple devices out and start snapping away.
I know this was a long post, but there was a lot of information to cover. I hope you have a better understanding of the photos part of iCloud. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to head on over to my contact page. If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for more about iCloud and it’s services.Contact