Sunday, October 30, 2011

iCloud Photo Stream issues

Photo Stream is really cool, but:
  • No way to exclude a new photo in Photo Stream. This means that all the devices that are in your Photo Stream get new pictures that you take. Suppose you're at work, and you want to take a picture of a whiteboard with some proprietary information, to share with your colleagues. Less than a minute later your kid at home is looking at it on your family iPad.
  • No way to delete photos in the Photo Stream. Suppose you've accidentally shared a photo that you didn't want to share. You can't fix the issue by deleting the photo. Actually, you can delete photos in your photo stream: all you have to do is reset your Photo Stream, which removes all the content, and then you re-add all your content in iPhoto minus the photo you don't want.
  • Uses your mobile data. Whether you like it or not, a photo taken by you is uploaded into iCloud, and photos taken by others that you're sharing Photo Stream with is downloaded from iCloud. If you're on AT&T's 200MB data plan, you're not going to make it.
  • Doesn't do videos. Videos on your device must be sync'd to iPhoto with a cable. I assume this is a compromise because of concerns over the amount of data iCloud will use on your mobile data plan. The Android Google+ app syncs video.
  • Every photo is in a single event in iPhoto. This can make it difficult to figure out where your pictures are; you're looking for a recent photo you took, but it's in an event called "Oct 2011 Photo Stream" many events past, because the first picture in the event is close to the beginning of the month.
  • Integration with iPhoto import. There's no integration beyond the fact that iPhoto 9.2 by default won't re-import photos it already has. This means that unless you take extra steps, your camera roll will keep getting bigger and bigger, because you're not deleting the photos after import.
  • Drops the raw tag on raw photos. This is a subtle issue, but annoying. I often shoot raw on my Canon. When my photos are imported onto an iPad, they are sync'd to my iMac without the raw tag that they usually have. Maybe this is an issue with the iPad import? However, all those photos are tagged with "Photo Stream" so at least they are easy to identify.
I really like the Android Google+ app and the way it's handled in Google+, but it's a different use case Photos and videos you take are instantly uploaded into a Google+ private album, which you can then optionally share. Whether you consider your Google+ albums to be the final archive location of your photos or not is another question.

Instead of Photo Stream, you can use WiFi sync to your iPhone(s)/iPad(s). It can work pretty well, because you can set up your devices to sync the last n events over WiFi. It's not the same, because:
  • You can't upload new photos unless you connect a cable to your device.
  • The hub of your collection is now iPhoto/iTunes, not iCloud. So your Mac needs to be up and iTunes open for this to happen.
  • Requires manual initiation, even if you don't have to plug in a cable.

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