The new Extensions feature isn’t the only major advance for Photos in iOS 8: Apple also dramatically improved upon its existing (and somewhat confusing) iCloud Photo Stream implementation. Currently, users can manually share photos as a “Shared Photo Stream,” and iOS devices automatically share the last 1,000 photos taken to “My Photo Stream.”
In either case, users can opt to download cloud-based photos to a Mac via iPhoto or Aperture for permanent archiving. Shared Photo Streams can be shared just among a user’s devices or with other users, and don’t go away. However, the main Photo Stream overflows at 1,000 pictures, meaning users have to manually manage photos they want to have accessible “in the cloud.”
This can lead to confusion for some iOS users who run out of space and manually delete images under the impression that they are stored “in the cloud” when in fact those images will eventually go away unless the user understands how to save them to a desktop computer. For iOS 8, Apple has fixed all of this with Cloud Kit.
Cloud Kit is a new architecture that provides third party developers with all of the cloud infrastructure they need to build sophisticated web services. Developers build a local client app that talks to Apple’s Cloud Kit, and Cloud Kit manages all the work in saving shared content on Apple’s remote servers. As a demonstration of how Cloud Kit works, Apple built iOS 8’s Photos app using Cloud Kit.
As a result, the new Photos gets rich support for storing images and video in iCloud. iOS 8 users will now have all their photos and videos saved in the cloud, and none will vanish after a specific period or threshold of 1,000 images.
As Apple notes, “Once you’ve enabled it on your iOS devices, iCloud Photo Library automatically keeps all your photos and videos in iCloud, at full resolution in their original formats, including RAW files. You can access and download them anytime from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or the web.”
The space consumed by photos and videos consumes much of the available storage for many iOS users. Under the heading “Fill your library, not your device,” Apple’s iOS 8 preview explains, “iCloud Photo Library helps you make the most of the space available on your iOS device, so you can spend more time shooting pictures and less time managing them. It can automatically keep the original high-resolution photos and videos in iCloud and leave behind lightweight versions that are perfectly sized for each device. You get 5GB of iCloud storage free, and other storage plans will start at $0.99 per month.”
After having a quick look at the beta version of the upcoming iOS 8 release, I was intrigued to see how the new storing all your photos in iCloud would affect the amount of storage on your iPhone.
At the moment, the majority of iPhone users are running into storage issues because they have 2-3 Gigabytes of photos stuck in their camera rolls and there is no built in way to free up that storage by having the photos you take, automatically be managed and moved. It would appear that this new Cloud kit backend from Apple will automatically delete the local copy of the photo from your device without affecting the permanently saved and stored iCloud copy.
We will have to wait nearer iOS 8’s release to know for sure exactly how it manages it, but solving the memory issues when it comes to photo management on the iPhone is something I’m eager for Apple to potentially solve.