An Update On The Viability Of iCloud Photo Library

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iCloud Photo Library

All the trouble I took to set up iCloud Photo Library is paying off. I transferred 12,000 photos over to my iPad in order to have my complete photo library available on all of my devices, but one of my main concerns was how much space this would ultimately take up on my 64 GB iPhone 5S and Air 2.

When I completed the transfer of photos last week, the Photos app was reporting that it used 24 GB of space. One week later, and with a few hundred more photos and videos added from my trip to the Ripley’s Aquarium, and my Air 2 is now showing that the Photos app is using about 21 GB of space. It’s now obvious that the “Optimize iPad Storage” option in the iCloud Photo Library settings is actually working, and I anticipate that even that number will go down over the next few weeks. It seems like most of the photos on the device are being stored in full resolution, while some of them are simply optimized thumbnails that trigger downloads when I tap on them.

I still wish the system were a little more transparent in terms of which photos were actually kept in full resolution, but I’m finding that, in practice, my photos still feel accessible enough. The loading times for optimized photos to become full-resolution photos aren’t too bad on Wi-Fi, and the system is smart enough to load adjacent photos as well, since I’ll likely want to swipe through a few photos when I visit an album.

It’s also worth noting that photo uploads are likely coming to the public in a few weeks. They’ve already hit, so it should only be a matter of time until this feature makes its way to the mainstream. This should be a much faster way to bring your iCloud Photo Library up to date, and it will be as simple as dragging and dropping photos straight into the browser. The only supported file type so far is JPEG, though, so don’t get your hopes up for uploading videos to just yet.

For videos, I’m planning to use Photo Transfer App once more. I’ve tested this with a few of my videos already and I noticed that the iOS Photos app was smart enough to use the metadata to sort my videos chronologically. This means that videos from 2009 will show up along the photos from 2009, and won’t just appear on the day I uploaded them to iCloud.

Now that I know a little more about how iCloud Photo Library can work, I feel more at ease with my decision to stick with the 64 GB iPad Air 2, instead of returning it and upgrading to the fully loaded 128 GB Air 2. This system should scale pretty well over the next year or two

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5 thoughts on “An Update On The Viability Of iCloud Photo Library”

  1. Hi Thomas,
    Appreciate your info on iCloud Photo Library – wondering what do you use (or is available) to *manage* the photo library – Naming photos, Events, tags, etc. that I do now in iPhoto? My understanding is Apple’s “Aperture” is slated for non-existence so I am not looking at it. I assume Mac “Photos” when released might do this, but would like to use iPhoto until we are sure “Photos” has full functional replacement features.

  2. Do I really have to have all the photos in the device? If so, then it’s crazy. There must be a way to have them in the cloud and use the device as an access point, like iTunes Match. Otherwise it’s not useful at all. I wouldn’t want my ~70 gb photo archive on my phone, even I had a 128 gb device

  3. Love this article man. Thank you for taking the time to try the things we all want to do, but don’t have the time to do. Much appreciated. Awesome as always.

  4. Thanks for the update Thomas! I am planning to upload my photo library in the coming days. Glad to hear that this optimization feature seems to be working.

  5. Transferring photos from iPhoto to iCloud worked and in chronological order. I tried the Photo Transfer App but it didn’t upload in chronological order directly from iPhoto though :(

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