Tuesday, October 28, 2014

iCloud Photo Library, Finally!

Back in June while watching the Apple WWDC, I was most excited about the announcement of the new iCloud Photo Library in iOS8.  The most common problems non-technologically savvy iPhone users seem to face are related to photos and this is going to go a long way to fixing those problems.

The 2 Most Common Problems
1. No more room left on the device. 
2. Unable to back up because there is no more available space in iCloud.

To solve the first problem most people will go to Photos and start deleting photos until they free up enough space.  As for the second problem most people don't do anything, because they don't really know what the problem is and as a result their phone isn't backed up anymore.

I think the iCloud Photo Library will resolve both of these issues, well definitely the first, but it will certainly pave the way for the second fix.

The iCloud Photo Library basically stores ALL of your photos and movies on Apple's servers as long as you have enough storage available in your iCloud account.  All your photos will be available from any iOS devices with iOS 8.1, on Windows PC's and in any web browser at iCloud.com. Any changes you make to the photos like edits, favorites or organization will "immediately" be updated in all places.  Now you might say I though this feature already existing with the "My Photo Stream" thing.  It is true that "My Photo Stream" did sync your photos to the cloud, but it had limitations regarding how long the photos stayed on Apple's servers (just 30 days), editing on different devices required the creation of a duplicate copy, there wasn't a way to view the photos on iCloud.com and it didn't include movies. Here is more info from Apple

In short this is going to at least keep everybody's photos and movies in one place without much work from user's.  As an added bonus, you can now choose to save space on your device by having a smaller version of the picture on your device and the device will also delete some of these pictures as you run out of space. Now people can mindlessly take pictures without being concerned about storage on their device.  The only thing holding people back will be the amount of storage they have in their iCloud accounts, but with the new low price of $0.99 a month for 20GB, most people will be good for at least a few years, at which point they can decide to upgrade to more space.  The lack of the Camera Roll from iCloud backups coupled with the extra cloud storage space should get people back on the "backup train".

So I am a big proponent of this and recommend getting on board as soon as possible.  Here are some steps you might want to follow first.
1. Upgrade your iCloud Storage to the 20GB plan.  You are probably already at the 5GB limit, so take the plunge for $.99 a month.  Settings > iCloud > Storage > Change Storage plan
2. Back up your device to iCloud. Now that you have some more iCloud storage space get a fresh backup out there. Settings > iCloud > Backup > Backup Now
3. Upgrade to iOS 8.1.  Go grab a computer with iTunes, plug in your iPhone and upgrade.  No need to worry about freeing up space when doing it with iTunes.
4. Turn on iCloud Photo Library with iMore's Enable iCloud Photo Library Instructions
5. Wait for all of your photos and movies to upload to the cloud

Now enjoy taking pictures again.  The only other recommendation I have at this point is to make sure you go through your photos every once in a while and click on the little Favorite heart for your favorite pictures.  You can then go to the "Favorites" album and quickly see them there.  Manually adding photos to Albums is probably a good idea too although the built in Moments grouping works pretty well.

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