The Updated iCloud Stores & Syncs Every Photo You Take Across All Your Devices


The final installment of photo-related news out of Apple’s annual WWDC Keynote comes out of the clouds… or rather cloud. Tying together photo management across the entire Apple ecosystem is the introduction of iCloud Photo Library.

The missing piece of the puzzle, iCloud Photo Library is just one of the many cloud-based announcements made by Apple today. It is, however, a piece of the iCloud pie that could play a vital role for many of us as mobile photography becomes more and more prevalent in both the amateur and professional market.

iCloud Photo Library is a cloud-based collection of the images you’ve captured on any of your iOS devices, and is accessible from any other iOS device, Mac OSX computer, and even PC. Rather than locally storing your photographs on a device, this automatically uploads your images to the cloud, making sure your iPhone or iPad never gets filled up with the, say, absurd amount of duckface selfies you take.


As I hit on in the previous two articles regarding Apple’s announcements from today’s keynote, this type of cloud-based service focuses on providing the simplest workflow possible. There is no transferring of images or worrying about duplicates.

One copy of the image is saved in the iCloud Photo Library, and regardless of whether you’re using the Photos app on your iPad, iPhone, iPod, MacBook, or PC, the edits made on one will almost instantaneously apply across all of the devices. And the same integration goes for curating your Collections, Moments, and Albums.

The beauty of this is accentuated by how iOS 8 handles its editing with third party apps, which assures that the images are edited non-destructively. So, rather than having the original image, then the VSCO-edited one, then the square cropped one for Instagram, you have one image across all devices that can be reverted back to the original at any given moment.


The inevitable question this brings up is what are the storage limits? Storage is limited by how much iCloud space you’re willing to pay for, which up until today, wouldn’t sound too grand. But in addition to the plethora of iCloud oriented announcements today, Apple also announced a new set of pricing plans for iCloud.

They start out with the free 5GB that is shared across all of your iCloud devices, and go up from there into paid tiers that range from $1/month for 20GB to $5/month for 200GB. The tiers actually go all the way up to 1TB of storage, but pricing has not yet been released for the really big plans.

In case you’re curious, here are some prices of other cloud storage platforms. 200GB will set you back approximately $16/month at Dropbox and $8/month on Microsoft’s OneDrive. Pricing-wise, the only comparable alternative is Google Drive, with their 1TB option coming in at $10/month. But as you would expect, none of these third-party platforms will feature seamless integration at the OS level.


The photo-related announcements from WWDC are just the beginning of the excitement for Apple fans. However, given what is essentially a mass overhaul of the entire Apple photo management infrastructure and the apps that contribute to it, it’s a VERY good day for those only interested in the photography aspect.

  • Rogan Thomson

    Seems a terrible idea… those of us who are snap happy will not only need to pay Apple for storage but also will need our network operators to be way more generous with data in our plans. In the UK i currently only get 1GB a month on O2 and always use it up early. Syncing every photo I take full res will consume it even faster.

  • BastardSheep

    I do hope there’s smooth and easy methods other than using iCloud for syncing between iDevices & computers. I store my final images in iPhoto for sharing out to online services, that library is 45GB in total (though the version synced to my phone is only 7GB). That means I’m looking at a minimum of $5/month.

    Now, keeping in mind I’m in Australia, our internet connections suck. They’re slow and have very low download limits (especially for mobile). My 3GB mobile data limit (which is 3-10 times what your average Australian has) could find itself filling up very fast with automatic uploads, and my ADSL2+ home internet connection has a total transfer to 200GB/month uploads and downloads combined and only syncs at 6Mbps (real world roughly 300KBps) down and 1Mbps (real world roughly 75KBps) up would mean very slow transfers if I limited my transfers to wifi.

    As good as this iCloud system sounds in theory, until things like this get sorted out in this country, I’d prefer a system that lets me smoothly transfer directly from my phone/tablet to my computer(s).

  • Gannon Burgett

    Considering the history of iCloud-connected apps built into iOS, it’s safe to assume it will only sync via WiFi, but offer the option to sync via data if you need it to.

  • Future is Now

    The NSA will love this!

  • gochugogi

    I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty dad burn poky syncing a day’s shoot of D800 RAW files.

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  • yopyop

    And don’t forget to activate the GPS when taking a picture !

  • sms

    I’m still waiting for Apple to get a clue and provide 5gb of iCloud space for every iDevice you own. C’mon Apple, doesn’t the price of three iPads, two iPods and two iPhones justify more iCloud space? No, apparently the 5gb per user has to store data from ALL your iDevices. I am NOT paying you for what should already be a reasonable expectation.

  • Matt

    Icloud is what is turning me from Apple. It might work OK standing in certain spots, but it will never be what they are claiming it is now.

  • Kurt Langer

    I hate waiting for people to render photos & vids on the mobile, especially when your at a party. I hate looking at peoples photos and vids on their mobile full stop. The irony I find is that the people think I really want to see their photos & vids on their mobile when we are socialising, and don’t understand that I don’t. Ok, one or two piccys would be fine, even cool. But people just can’t stop.