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iCloud, meet Photos: What's changing for your images in iOS 8

Serenity Caldwell | June 5, 2014
Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote was an exciting one for me on multiple levels, but the icing on the cake was seeing Apple's plan for handling images and video on iOS. Come the fall, the company's 1000-photo iCloud sync limit is history, to be replaced by an all-encompassing, some-storage-required iCloud Photo Library. It's a pretty big shift for both the company and its users, so before anyone panics, let's look at what's going to change with iOS 8 and what's staying the same.

Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote was an exciting one for me on multiple levels, but the icing on the cake was seeing Apple's plan for handling images and video on iOS. Come the fall, the company's 1000-photo iCloud sync limit is history, to be replaced by an all-encompassing, some-storage-required iCloud Photo Library. It's a pretty big shift for both the company and its users, so before anyone panics, let's look at what's going to change with iOS 8 and what's staying the same.

Beam my photos up, iCloud

Currently, Apple only lets its users upload 1000 images to Photo Stream; after that, it overwrites the oldest files, providing you with a rotating album of your last thousand photos. You can upload from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, of course — and even download that content to your computer — but you can never have more than 1000 pictures uploaded. On the plus side, Apple doesn't charge for this feature, so you don't have to pay the storage costs of hosting those pictures; on the flip side, there's no way to pay up to increase the amount stored in the cloud.

Apple's current storage system also happens to be messy. There's the on-phone storage, synced with your iPhoto library; there's your Camera Roll; and there's the Photo Stream. You can delete photos from the latter two, but not from synced storage.

More on iOS 8: What we know so far about Apple's new mobile OS

In iOS 8, all this is set to change. In the fall, you'll have two choices: Keep your photos on the phone locally and use Photo Stream to wirelessly sync them to your other iCloud-enabled devices, as you have in the past; or use Apple's new iCloud Photo Library.

Enable the library, and any photo or video you shoot or import will automatically upload to iCloud, where that content is stored at its full resolution and in its original format (JPG, PNG, Raw, you name it). All of those images will be viewable on any iOS device or on the Web; starting in early 2015, you'll be able to upload and view photos from your Mac, too.

Unlike Photo Stream, you'll have to pay for the storage you use, but it's going to be dirt-cheap: You get 5GB for free as part of your iCloud account, and you'll be able to buy 20GB of storage space for just $1/month — or 200GB for $4/month.

It's not yet clear from Apple's website whether your device's Camera Roll album will get folded into the Photos app and iCloud, but I'm hoping it will be — if so, you'll no longer have to delete an image in multiple places to remove it from your cloud-based library.

 

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