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Introduction to iCloud Photo Library on the iPhone and iPad

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In this article, Jason R. Rich explores Apple’s new iCloud Photo Library feature, and discusses how it can be used to organize, sync, archive and share someone’s entire digital image library.
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Since its inception, Apple’s iCloud online service has evolved into much more than just a cloud-based file sharing service. In fact, iCloud integration has been built into the iOS operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as well as the OS X operating system for the Mac. Plus, many of the apps that come preinstalled with Apple’s mobile devices and Macs are also fully compatible with iCloud’s various features.

iCloud Photo Library is One of iCloud’s Newest Features

In conjunction with the release of iOS 8.1, Apple has begun to introduce iCloud Photo Library in its beta form - a feature that will eventually replace iCloud’s My Phone Stream and Shared Photo Stream features currently used for organizing, syncing, archiving, and sharing digital photos via the iCloud online service.

By early 2015, iCloud Photo Library will be fully functional, and will also be accessible from Macs running OS X Yosemite and the yet-to-be-released Photos app that will soon be replacing iPhoto and Aperture on the Mac.

Ultimately, iCloud Photo Library will allow Apple users to create a single, online-based photo library, complete with individual Albums, and then be able to organize, manage, and access those Albums from any of their Macs, PCs, or iOS mobile devices. Then, if the user wants to share specific photos or complete Albums with others, this will be possible via iCloud Photo Library. However, only selected photos or Albums will be shared, while the rest of the user’s image collection can remain private.

When using iCloud Photo Library, anytime an iPhone or iPad user snaps a photo using the camera built into their mobile device, for example, it will automatically be stored within that device’s Camera Roll album, but also be uploaded to the user’s iCloud Photo Library where it will instantly become accessible from all of their other computers and mobile devices linked to that same iCloud account. The user is then free to create custom Albums and move images between Albums freely in order to organize them.

Then, if the user opts to share specific images or Albums, this will be managed from the Photo app’s Share menu. In addition, the user will be able to access their own iCloud Image Library from any computer or mobile device that’s Internet enabled by visiting www.iCloud.com, logging in with their Apple ID (iCloud) username and password, and then clicking on the Photos icon to access an online edition of this app, which will automatically be populated with the user’s own images and Albums.

In keeping with iCloud’s overall objective, iCloud Photo Library will eventually make it easy to sync photos and Albums between all of a user’s Macs, PCs, and iOS mobile devices, as well as share selected photos or Albums. Once the feature is set up, the syncing functionality will be automatic and almost instantaneous, as long as the computer or mobile device being used has Internet access. (On the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Wi-Fi Internet access is required to use most of iCloud Photo Library’s functionality.)

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