Understanding Apple’s Camera Roll, Photo Stream and Albums

Co-authored by Jeanette Delaplane

I updated my iPad and iPhone to iOS7 and need to do some cleanup of my photos so I can get a good backup. After examining my Camera Rolls (iPhone and iPad) and My Photo Stream I noticed there was a mismatch.

Jeanette and I and spent the morning trying to understand how these worked together. Here’s my “Cliffnotes” on what we concluded.

First of all, as my wife so emphatically points out now is that the Albums really aren’t that at all. If you create an album and copy a photo from you Camera Roll to the Album it is really just creating a pointer and the Album is really functioning as a filter. If you attempt to delete the file from either the Camera Roll or the “Album” it will be deleted in both places. Albums can’t be used to keep subsets of photos and delete them from the Camera Roll. This also holds true for Shared Streams…these aren’t the same as the My Photo Stream.

If you create a Shared Stream and copy a file from the Camera Roll to the shared stream and try to delete it from the Camera Roll it will be deleted in both the Camera Roll and the Shared Stream. If you try to delete it from the Shared Stream it will not be deleted from the Camera Roll.

When a picture is taken with the Apple Camera app the photo is saved to both the Camera Roll and the My Photo Stream when the Photo Stream option is turned on and you are using Wi-Fi. It is possible for My Photo Stream to temporarily be out of sync when the photo is taken and no Wi-Fi is available. Once Wi-Fi is available again, My Photo Stream with sync again.

However, if one device has the Photo Stream turned on and another does not it is possible for a number of photos (those older than 30 days) to be saved to the Camera Roll and not the Photo Stream. For example, if several photos are taken on an iPhone over a period greater than 30 days then the Photo Stream is turned on, only the photos taken in the last 30 days will be synchronized to the Photo Stream. There is also a limit of 1000 photos per Stream.

To copy the older photo to another iPhone, iPad or Mac, you need to create another Shared Stream and copy the files from the Camera Roll to the Shared Stream. At the destination iPad the photos in the Photo Stream or Shared Stream can be copied from from the Shared Stream to the Camera Roll. After they have been copied they can be deleted from the Shared Stream.

IMPORTANT: If the files are deleted from the Shared Stream they will remain on the original iPhone or iPad Camera Roll.

I’ll make the statement below because it actually happened once. With all other tests it didn’t happen. The photos in the Shared Stream were not delete.

{However, if they are deleted from the original iPhone or iPad’s Camera Roll they will also be deleted from the Shared Stream.}

Any of the streams, My Photo Stream or any Shared Streams can be accessed from another iOS or OSX device. This happens automatically for the devices using the same Apple ID and for other people if you share the Shared Streams. A file can be copied to the Camera Roll of an iPhone or iPad.

All Photo Stream (My Photo Stream and Shared Streams) photos appear in the iCloud “folder” in iPhoto on a Mac. The photos can then be imported to the iPhoto catalog.

If you copy anything from a Photo Stream to an album and delete it from the Photo Stream it will remain in the album. It is important to note that it will also appear in the Camera Roll because an album is really just a filter for the Camera Roll. This is evident by the Camera Roll being grayed out when copying from the Photo Stream or Shared Stream to an album. The album is really a smart folder for the Camera Roll, or just a reference from the Camera Roll. The actual file only exists in the Camera Roll and only the Camera Roll.

This is easily demonstrated by editing a photo that appears in both the Camera Roll and an album. The changes from Camera Roll will automatically appear in what you see in the Album.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad