Reviewing iCloud and Apple Photos

In a previous post I mentioned I would be reviewing back up and sharing software for digital photos. My goal is to evaluate how various applications manage the following features.

  1. Automatically backup my photos from my phone to either my computer or the cloud.
  2. Manual options to upload photos from your computer to the cloud (if you prefer to work that way).
  3. Instant access to the images and an ability to view them in case my phone or computer dies.
  4. What are the storage size options and corresponding fees.
  5. What are the online sharing and upload options with family members. How do they get access, can they add images etc.
  6. What are the privacy settings. Can albums be set up with passwords.
  7. Can everybody comment and like images (similar to Facebook).
  8. Can images be grouped into events, or albums. Can they be tagged.
  9. Can members download images for printing or send out to be printed, book creation options.
  10. Are there image editing options.
  11. Can you email an album or slide show to members that may not be so tech savvy.

Apple Photos and iCloud

Up until now I have stuck to the PC side of the digital world. If you are more of a Mac user than this is the post for you. And if you are a Mac user you are probably pretty familiar with how most of this works. However, if you are a new Mac user or you want to know how the other side lives, read on. FYI, iCloud and Apple Photos are available for the PC. Make sure you set up iCloud on your iphone or ipad first.

To use iCloud you need an Apple ID. This allows you to also sync your devices. If you use itunes on any device and have purchased items, you already have an Apple ID.

For the iMac user: if it’s not already running you need to turn on the iCloud option through the System Preferences section under the Apple menu. If you need to you can create a new Apple ID there. You can also choose how many things you want to back up – mail, contacts, Safari, photos etc.

Auto Back Up

  • Set up iCloud through the Settings app on your iphone or ipad. Click on your user information at the top of the screen. Images in your Photos app will be uploaded to iCloud when you are connected to Wifi.
  • When photos are uploaded to the cloud they will be synced across devices that are signed into iCloud.
  • My Photo Stream – upload new photos and send them to all devices.
  • Burst photos – upload only favourited photos that you choose.

Manual Upload

  • Apple iCloud is set up to Automatically sync photos on all devices. This is an on of off option.
  • The Burst photos is the only way to  upload specific images. (Edit: actually you are given the option to upload only the favourited image in a group of burst images)
  • The other manual option is to Share photos or albums.
  • To upload from your PC you would need to go to http://www.icloud.com/photos and sign in with your Apple ID.

Viewing Area (Photos)

  • View the images through the Photos app on your device.
  • You can store your original images in the cloud and keep a smaller resolution image on your phone freeing up space.

Storage Options and Fees

  • 5GB free with Apple ID.
  • Additional space available for a fee – $1.40/month for 50GB, $4/month for 200GB or $13/month for 1T.
  • You can purchase more storage space through your iCloud settings.

Sharing Options

  • In the Settings / iCloud section choose iCloud Photo Sharing
  • You can create an album that only a select group (up to 100) of people who can see, add and comment on the photos. All recipients have to have an Apple device and or an Apple ID and Photos.
  • On your iphone Photos app, choose Shared and create a new album. Select people from your contacts to share with.
  • The recipients will get a notification in their Photos app.
  • To share photos from your Mac the photos must be in your System Photo Library which is set to the Pictures folder by default.

Privacy Options

  • Unless you choose to make the shared album public (in the settings) it is private to only you and the people you shared it with.
  • The album shows up in their Photos app.

Commenting Options

  • When creating your shared album you can choose if the recipients have the ability to post and comment.
  • When they click on an image in the shared library they will see the option to comment at the bottom of the screen.

Categorizing Options (iCloud Photo Library or Photos)

  • Organized into Moments, Collections and Years.
  • You can mark favourites, create albums, change the order.

Printing Options

  • Through Photos you have the option to create photo albums, calendars, cards, and order individual prints. They are printed through Apple and paid for using your Apple ID account.

Editing Options

  • Basic editing is done through the Photos app on your devices. You could open an image in different editing tool like Photoshop and then import it into Photos.
  • Any changes, additions or deletions on one device will be synced to the others.

Send Options

  • To share your photos with those without a device, you can opt for watching slideshows through your Apple TV.

Of all the systems reviewed so far, this one offered the most options and seemed the simplest to use so long as all your devices are Mac. I downloaded iCloud for my PC, tried to sync and it went into spasms. As it has always been, trying to communicate between a Mac and PC is awkward. Not impossible just not seamless.

I hope this posts are helpful. So far, not one application is perfect. It really comes down to what you are looking for and your work flow preferences.

Next up: Amazon Photos then Flickr.

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