My First ‘This Is Lame’ Moment with Organizing Photos in iOS 5

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I posted recently about a very welcome new feature in iOS 5 for the iPad – the ability to create new photo albums right on the iPad itself.

It’s a feature that many of us have wanted to see for a long time. While I’m still glad to see this feature added to iOS 5, now that I’ve had some time to use it a bit, I have to say I’m not impressed at all. Here’s the cause of my first ‘This is lame’ moment with this new feature.

I created a few new albums in the Photos app soon after installing the latest iOS 5 beta on my iPad 2. The reason I created the folders (apart from just to test whether it worked) was so that I could better organize and divide up where photos / images are within the Photos app – rather than having them all dumped within the big buckets of Camera Roll, Last Imported and similar.

Once my new albums were created I set about moving some images from the Camera Roll to the appropriate new album – for instance photos of our dog and cat into a new album called ‘Pets’. Right off the bat there was a bit of a glitch. You can’t *move* an image to a new album – you are forced to copy it, which of course is not what I wanted to be doing. Copying as standard practice would soon have photos taking up far more space on my iPad.

Being used to Apple’s ‘fun’ ways of limiting how we can do things in iOS, I thought of the obvious workaround for the inability to move images from one album to another: I would copy the images into the new albums I wanted them in, then delete them from the Camera Roll – a little more work but it would mean that the Camera Roll stays less cluttered and images are only shown in the albums that they are meant to go into.

But No – that cannot be done either. If you choose to delete an image that has been copied to another album in the Camera Roll you get a prompt warning that the image will be deleted in all albums it is in, and asking you to confirm that you want to Delete Everywhere – as see in the screencaps in this post.

It doesn’t matter whether you try to delete images one at a time or in a multi-select action, you always get faced with the ‘Delete Everywhere’ issue.

I’m trying to think of logical reasons why you can copy but not move an image from one album to another, but so far I can’t think of one. For me, this is sort of defeating the purpose of being able to create albums on the iPad. It leaves me right back where I have to use iPhoto on the Mac to do any sort of intelligent organizing of images into albums.

For those of you who are using the iOS 5 betas, or those who are not, I am missing something silly here? Is there a better way to think about this, a good reason why we don’t need to have the option to move rather than copy a photo?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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22 thoughts on “My First ‘This Is Lame’ Moment with Organizing Photos in iOS 5”

  1. When you create an album on an iOS device, does that album appear on your other iOS devices?

    If it does appear on the other devices, does moving a photo into that album on one iOS device have tge same affect on other devices?

    Other Apple blogs have been vague on these details (probably because they know it sucks but are too scared to annoy Apple by saying so).

    I suspect it has something to do with the budget way that Apple keeps the folders in sync on the cloud. Not quite post PC era.

    1. Nope. I’m not seeing new albums created on the iPad 2 replicate to either of the other iOS devices in my house – an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3.x and an iPad V1 running an iOS 5 beta.

  2. My first guess is that you are not really copying photos, but just adding a label. Result is that only one copy is on your iOS device, but it appears in one or more folders, so it does not take up any additional space. But this is nothing new. Already in the current iOS imported photos appear in an event album and an imported album. If I rotate a picture in one album, it also rotates in the other. Hence there is only one copy of the photo.

    Perhaps you could check this in iOS5 by editing the picture in a folder and seeing if it also changed on the camera roll.

    1. Yes, that’s how it works. Edits made to a photo in one album show up in each instance of it in each album.

  3. Seems like the OS creates a label when you are trying to create a folder and when you “copy” photos in the new album actually you are tagging them with this label.

  4. This makes me think that there is only one copy of the image but there are two pointers – one in the camera roll and one in your new album. If that’s the case then at least you don’t have to worry about the space problems.

    1. True, and I agree that’s likely how it’s done – but that still leaves me thinking it’s quite lame in terms of not being able to move rather than copy and organize what is in albums.

      1. Can you delete a picture from an album? That would give you the ability to organize your albums any way you want. Just gotta get used to thinking of the camera roll as the mother roll.

        1. Yes you can but when you delete it looks like you always delete everywhere if the image is in more than one album. So you can’t ever decide to clear out the Camera Roll, which for me was one of the big benefits of moving images into more organized albums.

  5. photoManager Pro places a copy in ypur new album, but you can then delete the original. The Photos plug-in does what OS 5 appears to do. Makes a link to the mass of photos.

  6. I’m not running iOS5 but my thought on the matter is that Apple are forcing you to sync your photos on the cloud. For obvious reasons they don’t want to sync every album of yours, so they simply do some nifty backend (ie average user ‘invisible’) work so that it LOOKS like you have multiple folders (but you don’t).

    I think it’s an Apple compromise between the two big user requests: synced photos (via iCloud) and multiple folders (using only iPad input). You can’t ‘really’ have both but it APPEARS you ‘can’ have both. ;)

    My 2 cents worth.

  7. I have a question. Can the new albums you create in apps such as PhotoManager Pro be accessed by the various editing apps (such as Photogene or Filterstorm? Or does the photo have to reside in the Photo roll?

  8. Hi,
    Sharing one db across the whole photos collection as opposed to implementing a folder structure does seem like a limitation at first. But I think Apple will eventually incorporate iphoto features such as faces and events natively within ios in order to compensate for the chaos. What’s missing right now is processing power (ie faces) and iCloud (events). If PCless computing is the future, it does make sense to keep the db storage singular where replicating it across all idevices is complicated enough.

  9. I think Apple wants to approach photo management the same was they view music management. Ie. In iTunes/iPhoto you stick all you songs/photos into a universal ‘root folder’. Then you create playlists/photo albums based on all those songs/photos.

    Some smart filtering can take place in the form of organising by meta data like sorting by name, artist, date added etc. Abstracting the user experience from a ‘file system’ with ‘folders’, leaving the management to the software has always been Apple’s approach.

    My guess is they’ll expand on the filtering controls once they’ve sorted everything else out, allowing you greater control of what’s published and what’s not and setting other privileges and what not. The strengths of it’s approach onky becoming aparent when you start sharing the same photos(songs) across multiple albums (playlists) without needing to create duplicates..

  10. The potos in albums are just aliases of the original, essentially shortcuts to the real location in the “bucket.” All of your photos still live in the camera roll. This seems kind of silly but it’s also only the first iteration of the feature and not even released yet so it will likely improve. Still, the amount of disk space used by your albums should be minimal. If you are seeing large consumption of disk space, it is likely a bug.

  11. Since I upgraded my iPad2 to IOS 5 the pictures that I sychronise via iTunes are all mixed in the album. The order in which the pictures were taken is no longer followed, but a seemingly random sorting way is used. I do not see any option to change the order of the pictures in Photo. If this is called improvement than I can do without it ;-)

  12. This is highly disappointing. Not being able to move images to actual folders that really exist is pointless.

    The ‘delete everywhere’ problem that comes with this weird way of managing photos is also extremely irritating.

    How difficult can it be for the talented people at apple to give us a WORKING folder structure for organizing images?

  13. Useless. My camera roll is a mass of photos and videos. I have to scroll through everything to find the new ones. Its hard to keep track of whats been sorted into albums. They dont even save into events most of the time. More often than not I just dont bother trying show my photos to people.

  14. Someone try this….

    The first time I copied pics to my ipad I used the iTunes (PC). It was my new year’s party album. The next time, I took some pictures with my Sony Cybershot camera and copied them to the iPad using the Camera Kit. Then I wanted to organize my pictures into folders, but I could ONLY move the pictures copied with my camera kit, the second group. But not my new year pics.

    Then I tried it once more and all the same. If you copy pictures to the iPad with the camera kit, then you will be able to move them to new folders. Use the copy button. Right… it still says copy but it will erase the pics on the camera roll after copying to the new album.

    I don’t know why this happens, seems that the camera roll keeps track of the pictures copied by the camera kit, it’s weird!!!

    Anyone with a camera kit try this and comment his/her experience. I’m planning to copy many albums from my PC and I’m certainly not going to copy them to my camera and then use the camera kit. :-S

  15. yes, “Delete Everywhere.” really sucks. What I do is TOTALLY bypass Apple’s iTunes and iCloud ever-keep- them -coming -back -to -buy -more -and -get -ever -more -involved -with -‘I’ philosophy. I plug into my PC, use the iPad as an additional HD and up load all of it. Then sort on the PC. And all the while pray there is a benevolent loving computer God UP there somewhere whose gonna take care of us out of love rather than greed.

  16. I completely agree. This is another instance of Apple thinking they know better than the user. I want some photos in one folder, and other in another. Since there is no key wording or ability to sort in any meaningful way it’s the only way to keep photos easily referencable on my phone.

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