Apple’s iPhone is the perfect device for capturing photos and videos while on the go. Its built-in, 8MP, high definition (HD) camera module shoots beautiful, crisp images and captures vibrant movies. But there’s a problem: lots of us tend to share our iPhone-captured photos and videos using SMS messages or iMessages, the Mail app, or even social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and this really isn’t ideal. Batch sharing is laborious, you often feel like you’re waiting forever for SMS messages or emails containing images to send, and many of us simply aren’t comfortable with posting our personal photos to Twitter’s social network, let alone Facebook’s. Without realizing it, these iPhone owners are missing out on using one of Apple’s most-loved (and most useful) photo management features.
You see, Apple has a far better solution for sharing images and videos built right into its iOS Photos application: iCloud Photo Sharing. This free feature, which is part of Apple’s wider iCloud offerings, allows iOS device owners to easily share one image, or even a large number of images and videos, with another person. Let’s take a look at how it works.
Sharing lots of photos and videos at once
In order to share a photo or video using iCloud Photo Sharing, launch the iOS Photos application and find the pictures or movies you’d like to send to a friend. You can do this several different ways. To share an individual image or movie using iCloud Photo Sharing, open the image on your iPhone or iPad and tap the iOS sharing icon (in the bottom-left corner of the screen). Then, navigate over to the “iCloud Photo Sharing” icon which appears in the pop-up interface (you’ll notice that the icon for iCloud Photo Sharing looks a lot like the iOS Photos app’s icon). From here, users are prompted to choose an iCloud album for your picture to join: you can add your image or movie to a new album, or you can put it in an album that you’ve already created. Titles and comments for albums and images can be inputted, too, and you’ll also be prompted to invite a person (or a number of people) to “join” that particular album.
It’s also possible to share entire “moments” in the Photos app: to do this, simply tap the “Share” icon which appears alongside individual moments, and as before, select iCloud Photo Sharing from the list of options available.
You can invite your friends and family to an iCloud Photo Sharing album using either their mobile number, or their email address. You’ll also receive an iOS notification once that person has joined the album and is able to browse its contents. After joining, that person will then be able to view all the pictures and movies added to that particular album on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It’s as simple as that.
But wait – there’s more. If, for whatever reason, you’d like to share your pictures and movies with somebody who doesn’t own an iOS device, there’s still hope. Because iCloud Photo Sharing also generates a public URL for new albums, and this allows Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users to view your album online, in a Web interface. You’ll need to enable this in the album itself, under the “People” tab: here, switch a button marked “Public Website” over to on. You can also check on the number of people who have access to your album, as well as inviting new people, from the same interface.
This is a nice addition to iCloud Photo Sharing, and means there’s no limit imposed on who iOS device owners can share their pictures and movies with using Apple’s feature.
Updating your iCloud photo albums
Another great thing about using iCloud Photo Sharing is the ability to create and maintain living, breathing albums of images and movies. You see, once a friend or family member has been invited to join an iCloud album, you can continue to add new pictures and videos into that album as and when you choose. All invitees will then be able to check out new additions to your iCloud albums as they’re updated (they’ll receive an iOS notification when the album host adds new content).
Imagine this: you’re on a family vacation, and you’ve got relations or friends back at home who you’d love to share your photos with once you’re back. With iCloud Photo Sharing, you can add pictures and movies to a shared iCloud album as you go, importing new content and expanding on the album’s contents with each day. You could also have a shared iCloud album set up for pictures of your kid, adding new photos in every so often and sharing a photo lifestory with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. For non-iOS users, the URL that iCloud Photo Library generates will always show the updated contents of the album.
Sharing is a two-way street
You know what’s better than being able to share photos with another person quickly and easily? Having them share their own pictures and movies with you! When you create iCloud Photo Library shared albums, selecting “Subscribers Can Post” allows invitees to add their own images into the same collection. In this way, multiple iOS device owners can create a collaborative pool of images showcasing a particular event (like a wedding or family vacation). Best of all, all the same great photo management features listed above still apply: notifications for new additions to the iCloud album will reach all subscribers, you can continue to add in new images and movies as you go, and iCloud’s public URL will continue to update with additional content as and when it’s added.
Commenting and liking
Perhaps you’re a fan of Facebook’s commenting and liking features, which allow users of the social network to receive feedback on their photos, movies, and albums from friends and family members. If so, you’ll be pleased to hear that Apple has built a similar feature right into iCloud Photo Sharing. In shared iCloud photo albums, subscribers can either “like” or comment on individual images. You’ll receive a notification when new comments are made on your pictures and movies, and as the album curator, you can reply with your own comments, too. Got a funny story to share about one of your pictures? Sharing it with all your album subscribers is simple, thanks to iCloud Photo Library’s commenting feature.
But don’t forget: save everything you want to keep
Despite offering users a great feature set, iCloud Photo Sharing comes with an important message. Do note that, if you are invited to join an iCloud album by a friend or family member, your access to this album could be revoked at any time. The album curator might delete the images or remove the album (subscribers can’t remove images, though, so there’s no need to worry about reckless invitees). In order to ensure that you maintain access to your favorite images shared using iCloud Photo Sharing, we’d advise iOS device owners to ensure that they save their most-loved images and albums to their iPhone or iPad as promptly as possible.
To do this, open the picture or movie you’d like to save to your iOS device, and tap the sharing icon (in the bottom-left). Then, navigate to the icon marked “Save Image,” and tap it. The picture or movie will then be downloaded from iCloud and saved to your handset or tablet. Even if the album curator deletes the picture, your copy will remain safe and sound on your iOS device. Phew.
The best way to share
There you have it: iCloud Photo Sharing – the best way to share images and movies on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. As we hope you can see, this smart feature easily beats all other photo-sharing options. It’s quick, easy to configure, feature-packed, and can even work across mobile (and desktop) platforms. And best of all, it’s free to use. What more could you want?
Start iCloud-sharing the contents of your Photos app now. For any questions, feel free to use the comments below.