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.

[Link] Photo Storage in iOS 8 Will be Solved


Rene Ritchie Reporting for iMore:

iOS devices are currently limited to between 8GB to 128GB of storage. Many people have 16-32GB devices. In an age of 8mp photos and 1080p video, that fills up fast. So, keeping photos and videos all locally on the device is a problem because you’ll run out of space, and sooner rather than later. It’s especially bad if you’re anxiously trying to capture a special moment only to be told there’s no space left and then having to quickly, under stress, figure out which older moments you’re willing to sacrifice.

Purely offloading all photos and videos to the cloud isn’t a perfect solution either. If they’re all stored online and you end up with a slow, limited, or non-existant internet connection, you lose immediate access to any photos or videos not stored locally on your device. That’s also a problem.

Apple’s solution is to cache a manageable portion of photos and videos on your device and keep the rest of them safely up on the cloud. Recently added and viewed photos and videos are the most likely be cached locally, and potentially in scaled-to-device sizes to make the most efficient use of storage.

There might be some situations where a photo or video you haven’t viewed in a while isn’t available in full resolution when you’re offline, but for most people most of the time, it will be far, far better than either losing content due to the 1000 photos/30 day limit, or running out of local storage on the iPhone or iPad.

For me, this is the most important feature of iOS 8 – everybody and I mean everybody needs a definitive solution to the photos and videos they take on their iPhones on how and where to store them.  If Apple’s new Cloud Kit addition can handle the photos and videos so it automatically uploads them and subsequently manages your locally stored copies to then free up space on your device so the user doesn’t have worry about this – well, then that is the solution – finally.

Cloud Kit for iCloud Will Solve Photo Storage Issues on iPhone


Daniel Eran Dilger:

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.

iOS 8 changes Needed: Photos and Camera


Serenity Caldwell:

Apple’s Photo Stream brought effortless image backup to the masses, but it came with a major limitation: Only the most-recent 1000 photos are stored on the company’s servers. To sync more photos, you need to hook Photo Stream up to your Mac. In addition, deleting Photo Stream images is an arduous process, and one that deletes only the version of the photo stored in Photo Stream—not the copy in your Camera Roll.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this message came up when deleting images from your Camera Roll?

So let’s, again, simplify. Your Camera Roll should be your Photo Stream—any image you take on your iPhone should be backed up to the cloud. If you want to sync other albums, pay for more storage. Both Loom—recently acquired by Dropbox—and Picturelife offer large paid storage lockers for images, and I’m hoping Apple might take a page from these startups. iPhoto for the Mac is all well and good, but it seems silly that we’re manually syncing our photo libraries via USB to get our images. Let’s move this to Apple’s servers—even if it comes at a monetary cost.

Auto-backup for the Camera app could also solve the “duplicate photos” problem between Photo Stream, iPhoto sync, and Camera Roll. Currently, even if you delete a screenshot from your Camera Roll, you have to delete that image again in Photo Stream to remove it from the servers and your Mac. If your Photo Stream backup were your Camera Roll, deleting once would delete everywhere.

I echo Serenity’s points – deleting photos twice, once from Camera Roll and then again from Photo Stream is tiresome and is exactly why most folk having all their photos stuck on their iPhones, taking up storage space and not knowing the best way to manage them. Apple has got to look at this issue soon – even Google are making their photo management solution attractive.