iCloud Photo Sharing

If you’re a frequent reader then you may remember my thoughts on Apple’s iCloud Photo Library beta and my lack of faith in Apple and its ability to keep my photos safe. Nobody wants to lose photographs of their kids or loved ones because Apple’s cloud solution had a meltdown one day.

And I just don’t have any expectation of that not happening at some point.

During my time spent testing iCloud Photo Library I rediscovered one feature that I had actually forgotten about since the days of the iOS 7 betas. It was as feature that I never made great use of at the time because some key members of my family didn’t have iPhones, but now that they do, I decided to revisit it.

The feature I am talking about is iCloud Photo Sharing, and it’s really rather good.

For those who have never looked into it, or like me simply forgot about it, iCloud Photo Sharing allows anyone with the right hardware and software to effectively create a shared album and then give selected people read and write access to it. They can also Like images (or videos for that matter) and comment on them should they see fit. If you give them the required permission they can even upload images and videos themselves, which makes it quite powerful indeed.

My use case is an obvious one, and one that I suspect is duplicated throughout the land.

I created a new shared album simply titled ‘Kids’ and started pushing photos of my two boys into it. I even threw some video into it for good measure and then invited my wife and the kids’ grandparents to both look at and add to the album.

Almost instantly I started getting comments back, and then images added that I hadn’t even seen. Photos that the boys’ grandmother had taken but I had never set eyes on were suddenly available for me to flick through on my iPhone. I could save them, edit them or do pretty much anything I wanted to them. It’s magical, if you’ll allow me one Jony Ive-ism.

You could use the same setup if you go on a family vacation, or you join a group of friends at a concert or sporting event. Anything that revolves around a common interest could be turned into a shared album, and I had forgotten it was even possible.

If I remember rightly one of the reasons I didn’t take to the idea of iCloud Photo Sharing the first time around was that it was easier to just send photos of interest over iMessage. Now though, and I don’t know whether this is just me realizing something obvious or that something has changed, sharing images to any shared album is as quick, if not quicker than iMessage. The option is right there in the Share Sheet, and it couldn’t be simpler to use.

At this point, I’m more than ready for the barrage of comments that ask where I’ve been for the last 18 months and telling me that everyone is already using iCloud Photo Sharing to death. And that’s fine, it really is.

But if just one person reads this and has the same eureka moment that I did then it’s all worth it. Even if I do a bit silly in the process.

It wouldn’t be the first time, after all!

  • mahe

    You already named the biggest downside: iOS only.

    • Kr00

      You can send anyone a link that takes them to the shared pictures on an iCloud photo sharing web page.

      • mahe

        yeah, but they don’t get a notification if there is new stuff.

      • They do if they have an iOS device and it’s naive to think that Photos for OS X won’t include this at some point in time either. Really the only people that won’t get a notification are people that don’t use Apple devices which could easily be rectified by sending a batch email containing the iCloud photo sharing web page…

      • mahe

        So everytime I add new stuff I’ve to send out an email (which can be done in the app, I know).

        And how can they add stuff?
        For me that’s an important point for a shared album.

        With my starting comment I didn’t mean just this one feature (which can also be done with simple webspace), I meant the whole package 🙂

      • Kr00

        I shot down your first comment with the truth, now you complain because there’s no notification for a WEB service. You trollin or what?

      • mahe

        No you didn’t, as the whole feature (so everything of it) can only be used with iOS (idk how it looks like for OS X).

        The point is:
        You can share the album with other ppl, but non-iOS user can’t add stuff to it and they don’t get an automatic notification if you add new stuff.

        Which in my point of view is very important for a shared album.
        So this is a big downside for me as not all of my friends have an iOS device.

      • Kr00

        No, I did. You can’t squirm out of your original comment,

        “You already named the biggest downside: iOS only.”

        Read the whole article before sticking your feet in your mouth.

        “(idk how it looks like for OS X).” Why comment on things you don’t understand? You’re obviously not aware how it works so I’d stop right there before looking more of a fool.

      • mahe

        So tell me:
        How can someone on Android add pics or vids to a shared album?
        Is someone on Windows Phone automatically notified if pics or vids are added?

        Partially working doesn’t count.

      • Kr00

        Well I’ll tell you what. When Android and Windows make a native app that does all this on desktop, tablet, smartphone and web browser too, for Apple devices, you let me know, ok. So far Apple are streets ahead in that department, but I guess that doesn’t count with trolls now does it?

      • SoylentGreen

        For months now, every single bit of content you have created here is, never original or objective and always of the knee jerk flavour & sadly full of vitriol, you use a rubbish amateur psychology technique, wrongly btw, calling people trolls and immediately transition straight to the lowest common denominator, it’s suggests you are socially inept, and likely spend a lot of time mentally re-visiting the younger years when you were treated with disregard, and you treat people with the same disdain I reckon you have been treated with, ignored as a child, hopelessly emotionally and socially stunted, I honestly think you have to “log off” and maybe learn some social skills that will enhance your life, and it might even make you tolerable for Longer than 2 sentences.

      • Kr00

        Bite me!!

      • mahe

        So I’m trolling because I say it’s only avail to iOS and that’s a downside …
        You didn’t answer my questions, did you?

        I did never say that Apple is behind (nor it is far ahead), you are leaving the road …

      • Kr00

        You clearly have some issues. See a therapist, and stay off Apple forums, they seem to make you all angry about nothing.

      • mahe

        Back to topic please 🙂

      • Kr00

        Ok. So firstly you were wrong about photo sharing being ios only. No admission from you. Apple provide a service no other maker provides, yet you bitch about other people not being able to add a photo. Someone’s nitpicking here and it ain’t me. How about you tell us how Apple can add this feature to android and windows, seeing as they don’t write apps for these platforms? If you don’t like it, use Dropbox or Instagram.

      • mahe

        The article isn’t only about sharing photos …

      • Kr00

        Funny. The headline is “iCloud Photo Sharing”, or did you miss that too? Still no admission of your ignorance I see. Give it a rest.

      • mahe

        and in the article it says other can attand and upload their pics/vids too.
        Didn’t you tell me to read the article? 🙂

      • Kr00

        Yet you still want to focus on just the one issue and bitch, moan and complain. Whatever your agenda is, there’s more to photo sharing than just one minute thing you wish to cry about. Get over it, or find a better service. Your crocodile tears aren’t worth the time.

      • mahe

        oh well, you started bitching at me because I said it’s iOS only.
        You still didn’t tell me how a non Apple user can upload pics or gets automated notifications, instead you said I should use dropbox or other providers (which is imho a bigger pain).

        You know what I like most about the whole feature?
        As long as everyone with access to the shared album has an iOS device, everyone can take a pic, tap here, share to cloud, post, done. The others get a notification and can look at it.

        I really don’t care if non Apple users would have more steps, like open an app, choosing the pic/vid … *bla*
        Or getting an email like “Hey, there is new stuff! Click this link.”

        So I really like features like this, but I also see the things that aren’t that nice (maybe Apple should really start to make small apps for other systems and stuff like this, this would be somehow cool) and don’t take everything as “perfect” (well, some things are, if we would live in an Apple only world)

      • Kr00

        Sorry, you must be confusing me with someone who actually gives a shit. Ta ta.

      • mahe

        tbh, English is not your native language, am I wrong?

        I don’t know what trolling is, but it seems like you know it best.

      • SoylentGreen

        Do you only come here during menstruation? Or Maybe your just self medicating

      • Kr00

        I gather you’re speaking from experience on menstruation? Here’s a lifestyle tip. Get over it. Coz I really don’t give a shit.

  • Sander

    It’s not ios only you can share is with any other devise then an iPhone via a share link

    • mahe

      but those don’t get a notification on new stuff and can they add pics/vids?

  • Stephaughn Alston

    You’re not the only one, I just rediscovered it because I just came back from vacation and was trying to figure out how I can send all my family members all the pics/videos at once and that came to mind. Plus if I’m not mistaken I think iMessage has a limit on how many pics you can send at a time!

  • RayRayBeav

    I actually back up any photos that I absolutely want to keep. I just put them on iCloud Photo Sharing and they’re there when I reformat my decide or get a new one.

  • JerseyD

    Definitely an underrated feature. iOS 8 gave it the fix it needed by letting all participants add their own pictures. Before that it was only the album creator who could upload making iMessage more appealing.

  • El Matador

    Great post Oliver. This is especially great when you have certain pics or moments that you don’t necessarily want to share on a social media platform. This is much more intimate in my opinion.

    • jrzapata

      Also if you don’t want to be in the social media circus it is the perfect platform to share pictures with your family

      • El Matador

        I couldn’t have said it any better.

  • askep3

    iMessage is nice if you are just sending a few messages, but if there are a lot and many other people also have photos of the same subject, it is best to use this.

  • James G

    I used this for wedding pics as well. You can even create a website sharing link for non iOS users.

  • Scoroncocolo

    Thanks for reminding me. I had forgotten about iCloud photo sharing…

  • Create a new shared album and turn on public website:

    • lemonhead

      yeah, but now every but can see them right :-/ i was more thinking like a privat link to it

      • To my knowledge it is private. The link is obviously publicly accessible but I don’t think search engines will index it and noone will find it without the link…

      • lemonhead

        oh i see !
        not even via my icloud account?

      • Kr00

        The link is shared only to those you choose to add, nobody else can see it.

  • Best secret? Seemed pretty easy to find in iOS 6, then again, I always explore every bit of the devices I use and try to get the most out of them…