Hey Apple: Regular People Have No Idea How To Manage Photos On Their iPhone


I’m serious, they don’t. They don’t know that they don’t, but they don’t. If you grab a co-workers iPhone and they have 2500 photos on the camera roll, then you know they don’t. They’ll just keep taking photos and assume “the cloud” or whatever is backing it up.

For a time, it is.

That is, until their backup hits the mythical 5GB mark and iCloud starts pestering them to remove data or buy more space. Some people buy more space, but most just continue to ignore it and hope Apple has their back. I hate to break it to them after their iPhone takes a swim in the lake, but they don’t.

Multiple companies are stepping up and trying to solve this problem in different ways, though:

  1. Dropbox: It asks you on iOS and on the desktop to automatically upload photos. In fact, Dropbox will give you 3GB of additional free storage if you upload 3GB of photos.
  2. Google+: Google is largely doing the same thing as Dropbox, but only on iOS. They even mark the photos as private by default (good move).
  3. Everpix: Just go read my review.


Apple needs to do one of the following things (in my opinion):

  1. Buy Everpix and integrate that functionality right into iOS and the Mac. I love Everpix as standalone company, but a lot of people aren’t ever going to hear about them unless it was functionality built right in by default. Also, photo stream needs to be reversed. Apple should store ALL photos/video taken with your iPhone and just store the most recent 1000 (or 30 days) locally on the device.
  2. Make iCloud free for the total size of all the active devices backing up to that account. If I have a 16GB iPhone and a 32GB iPad, I should have 48GB available on iCloud for backups. If a device doesn’t “check in” every 90 days, then that amount is removed from your quota. This would also be another reason to buy higher storage devices.
  3. Make iCloud storage a terabyte for all users for free. This is virtually the same as number two, but giving you so much that you’ll likely not run out for a decade or so. Yahoo did it for Flickr, why can’t Apple?.

The kids born 2010 and beyond (when the iPhone camera actually got good), will have a ton of pictures taken of them. Parents largely don’t have a digital workflow that allows for backup, usability, and long term storage.

Apple has always prided itself on making technology for regular people. This is a problem that regular people need solved. Photo storage and backup needs to be automatic and so easy that it’s nearly impossible to screw up.

About the author: Bradley Chambers is an IT director and blogger based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can read more of his writing on his blog Chambers Daily. This article originally appeared here.

Image credit: How to take a photo with your iPhone, from as low a position as possible by mikebaird

  • Alan Klughammer

    Computers and technology in general needs to be automatic and so easy that it’s nearly impossible to screw up.
    Or you can learn to use the tools you have….

  • Abdul Cader

    so true..

  • Carl Meyer

    Regular people aren’t photo hoarders, they delete them without regret as often as they take new ones without shame.

    People that really want to backup their photos do it locally every time they sync their phone with their computer, that more often than not has enough available space in it’s harddrive to storage more than what any of the popular cloud storage services has to offer for free without the hassle of being hooked to another monthly payment.

    Someone born in 2010 should be learning to talk, read and write instead of worrying about the fate of some crappy photos that are going to end up deleted sooner or later.

  • Fra Lippi

    People don’t ignore backups because it’s hard to do. They ignore backups because they just don’t think about it, or figure they can put it off till later. The reason IT guys get it is because they’ve had to be the ones to deliver the bad news.

  • Brandon

    They’ve already begun to tackle this problem with iOS 7

  • Tobias W.

    With Edward Snowden leaking how our civil rights are being violated by the US globally, no US based cloud service is worthy anymore storing anybody’s private/personal data, including and very much so images taken from your smart phone. Screw iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Sky Drive and all the others.

    The solution is much simpler: if you have a Mac, use Aperture or iPhoto (comes with every Mac) to manage your images from your phone. Use Time Machine on your Mac to back up the files to an attached drive or within your home network. Everything is there already and it’s super easy.

    If you have a PC: use Lightroom or any other photo management software which recognizes the iPhone as a USB connected camera. Windows 8 should offer the semi-automatic option to download images from any connected camera, including the iPhone.

    Face it, the cloud for personal data is insane, it’s dead.

  • Tednrok

    iPhoto gives every icloud user pretty much unlimited backups. Just share photos to a private photo stream. You can make as many as you like, each can hold 1,000 photos (no vids yet buts that’s coming in iOS7). I’ve got well over 10GB of photos saved to shared and private photo streams on icloud using this method from my iMac, iPhone and iPad. Even with the basic 5GB of free storage, the unlimited photostreams you can create, that can each hold 1000 photos, don’t count against your storage.

  • bogorad

    What you said about G+ is totally untrue. It holds any number of pictures – no limit at all! – if you agree to resize them to 2048px (this the default behaviour). Also it smartly auto-enhances all your photos.

    And it works with ios as well as android – just get a native app.

    It’s more that an average smartphone user really needs.

  • Mack

    You want me to read this and want the company to create a storage site for my photos for free basically. Maybe they should come out and hit the button for me as well?

    I personally don’t trust any online company to hold or secure my images for me. What happens if the online site has a huge loss and all my images are gone because as you describe this is the only way to save images.

    Connect to a computer and but a hard drive and sent it to a flash drive or even a disk.

    I have no doubts you are for national health care, social security, and gov’t assistance.

  • Rob Elliott

    I don’t know a single regular person that even knows how to back up their photos. I had to set up the process for family members for it even to back up to iCloud.

  • Ryan

    “Google+: Google is largely doing the same thing as Dropbox, but only on iOS. They even mark the photos as private by default (good move).”

    That is absolutely false. They were doing this natively in the android app way before iOS ever even received this feature. Please know what you’re talking about before you write an article on it, and make it public for a lot of users to consume.

  • mark hunter

    All of these storage options are poor compared to copy. free file hosting site like drop box but I have 34gb for free.

  • Carl Meyer

    You underestimate regular people. External HDD sales are sustained by people using them daily to store their own files, not just to replenish them with pirated music and movies, and that’s the market cloud storage services are after.

  • Bilbo Teabaggins


  • Saywut

    Why not store all the photos on a computer every week or so… while making multiple copies on more than one external hard drive?

    How lazy can people be these days…!

  • Alan Dove

    You left off option 4: FIX iPHOTO. That’s the crux of the problem.

  • Rob Elliott

    I think you over estimate them by a lot.

  • Dave h8fl

    the world is going to end and i hope im off doing something nasty. I was at the genius bar and overheard a tonto ask the blue shirted guy how to transfer photos from his iphone to his mac. on my left was a woman asking how to turn on her iPhone. I guess my question about some command line stuff was just terminal.
    backup what’s that?

  • Chris Gibbons

    I don’t think the author has ever actually used an iPhone. All of my photos are synced via the cloud to my desktop, so the whole issue is moot, but anyway. Photo stream is separate from iCloud backup. It stores the first 5000 pictures. That does not use up your iCloud storage. This is automatic. This is preserved even if you dunk your phone in the lake.

  • Chris Gibbons

    What’s to know? You install iPhoto on your desktop and it backs up every photo you take almost instantly. You don’t do anything. There is noting to know.


    You know Bradley, this is so true. I am a professional photographer and I can’t even get a good iphone photo workflow that mixes with my pro workflow. I use lightroom, but end up just using iphoto for my iphone picture so I can sync albums and download my photostream automatically. But i HATE iphoto. I also found that if one was to make shared photo streams with them self, they can store unlimited number of photos in icloud. Apple allowed 1000 photos uploaded an hour, and 10,000 a day… with no limit over time.

  • Rick

    Jeez. Just sync your iPhone with your computer and upload them to Google Drive. Problem solved. I wouldn’t use Dropbox. It might get bought out or go bankrupt. Google will be around for a long time, I figure. Just my $0.02.