Apple has finally unveiled the first beta version of Photos for Mac, an application that will eventually replace iPhoto and Aperture on OS X. As I noted earlier this month, the new application shows great promise. The change also sets up what could be a major headache for Apple users.
Under the current Photo Stream arrangement, iOS and Mac users can sync a limited number of images with iCloud. These files are stored across multiple devices. With Photos for Mac, images and video are now stored on the iCloud Photo Library. By default, these files are no longer stored on user devices, although they are viewable from these locations.
The good news is that this arrangement frees up storage space on iOS devices; the bad news is that storing files on iCloud could become an expensive proposition, depending on your situation.
Apple gives everyone 5GB of free storage on iCloud, a paltry sum for most users. Keep in mind, this storage isn’t just used for photos and videos. Backups from mobile devices also consume this data.
Once you go over 5GB, Apple offers three iCloud storage upgrade options: 200GB for $3.99 per month, 500GB for $9.99 per month, or 1TB for $19.99 per month.
These price points are unacceptable — especially when you look at what Apple’s competitors are charging.
Currently, 1TB of OneDrive storage from Microsoft costs $6.99 per month, and this includes Microsoft Office 365. Google Drive and Dropbox both charge $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage. All three packages offer 15GB of free storage.
I’m convinced that Apple will soon tweak its iCloud storage offerings, although this isn’t based on any inside information. It just reflects two realities that Cupertino is facing; Apple really wants to convince users that Photos for Mac is a suitable alternative to iPhoto and Aperture, and they aren’t about to lose out to Microsoft or Google to get this point across.
Does this mean that free, unlimited iCloud storage is coming for all? Perhaps, although it’s more likely that Apple will offer unlimited storage through the company’s iTunes Match service, which is priced at $24.99 per year.
Better still, Apple should roll unlimited storage into its new music streaming service that is going to replace Beats Music. If Microsoft can give us Office and 1TB of storage for $6.99 per month, Apple should be able to give us at least an equal amount plus some free music, no?
We’ll continue to follow this story and let you know when the next Photos for Mac beta is released to developers. In the meantime, be sure to take a look at our first in-depth report on the new application.