iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream: What’s the difference?

iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream: What’s the difference? | iMore

When Apple released iOS 8.1, the company included beta access to its new iCloud Photo Library service. With iCloud Photo Library, you can store all your photos in iCloud with no limits, unlike the traditional Photo Stream we’ve been accustomed to for the past few years. As long as you have enough iCloud storage, iCloud Photo Library will save all your photos. But what happens to your regular Photo Stream when you enable iCloud Photo Library? And more importantly, where did all your synced albums go? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more!

An overview of the differences between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream

There are a few key differences between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream that you need to remember. Before we start: It’s important to note that at this time iCloud Photo Library is still in beta form; as such, we recommend always backing up any photos you plan to store on the service. Okay, that caveat over with, it’s time to break down what each service offers and how they differ. Here’s a brief overview:

Regular Photo Stream:

Only stores your most recent 1000 photos or the last 30 days of images, whichever is greater
Does not use your iCloud storage allotment
Compatible across all devices including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC
Stores web-optimized versions of your photos, which may degrade quality
Does not upload and sync videos
You can still sync photos and albums from your Mac or PC via iTunes when Photo Stream is enabled
iCloud Photo Library:

Stores all your photos and personal video and has no limits as long as you have the iCloud storage space to support it
Uses your iCloud storage allotment
Accessible on iPhone, iPad, and online via iCloud.com; a new Photos app for Mac is coming in early 2015, and presumably iCloud for Windows will receive access around that time as well
Stores full-resolution photos on the server and on your devices and supports many file formats including JPG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and others
Uploads and syncs videos as well as photos
You can not sync albums and photos from your Mac or PC via iTunes when using iCloud Photo Library, and any existing albums will be removed when you enable the service
I’ve enabled iCloud Photo Library, my Photo Stream is completely gone! Why?!

Your Photo Stream isn’t technically gone. Since iCloud Photo Library now stores all your photos instead of just the most recent 1000 or last 30 days, it’d be confusing to divide up your Photo Stream and Camera Roll. As such, anything that appears in All Photos is backed up to iCloud Photo Library and available on any iOS device with iCloud Photo Library enabled.

A good explanation from Allyson on the new Photo changes iOS 8. The key here is really to switch all devices to iCloud Photo Library and discard the old Photo Stream way of managing your photos.