I’ve written a lot about iCloud Photos at 9to5Mac. I think about managing my photo library more than I’d care to admit. I’m always thinking about additional back up measures I can put into place, or ways Apple could improve the service (be sure to check out my Google Photos vs. iCloud Photos roundup). iOS 12 is now on the market, so we know all the new features that are available this year. My mind is already turning to iOS 13, though. I hope it’s a big year for iCloud Photo Library. Here are the features I consider to be “low hanging fruit”.
Face Scanning and Syncing in iCloud
iOS 11 added the ability to sync your faces across iCloud, but each device still independently scans your entire library (and these are libraries that keep growing year after year). It’s time to move this to iCloud, and let the devices receive the data.
Apple has a strong commitment to privacy, but they’ve figured out a way to sync the actual faces data over iCloud, so it’s time to let iCloud do the scanning as well. This process is the worst part about getting a new device. If you’ve got a large library, it can take quite a long time to do the initial scan. You also cannot see Faces data for new photos until your device gets plugged back in so it scans them. I understand this is done for battery savings, but offloading this to iCloud would alleviate that concern (especially since photos can upload via LTE now).
Overhauled Family Sharing
Earlier this year, I wrote this in my Google Photos vs. iCloud Photos article
The second key weakness is the lack of a family set up for iCloud Photo Library. I know they offered shared albums, but families don’t have a way to share a single library. As a parent of young children, I have tons of photos. Some of them are taken by me and others taken by my wife. The fact that there isn’t an automatic way to share them back and forth creates difficult workflows. You can AirDrop them back and forth, but that gets old after a while. My current solution is that I have my wife’s camera roll set to upload to Dropbox whenever she gets on Wi-Fi, and then I import them into Photos on the Mac (after I cull bad ones). They then sync to my iPhone, and then Google Photos uploads them.
Last weekend, my wife and I attended a wedding for our cousin. We had her brother take a photo of us as the venue was especially pretty. We took an initial round of pictures with my iPhone, but then we made the second round with her iPhone (the lighting wasn’t right on the first round). Because I have the master iCloud Photo library on my iPhone, I then didn’t have her photos in the library.
iOS 12 did add some recommended sharing notifications, but it’s cumbersome to use in this situation. This feature would be great if we were trying to share multiple photos with friends from the event. All I wanted was one photo from her iPhone to add to our library. She ended up just sharing it via iMessage to me.
There are two ways that I think could make it work :
Read Only Option
One option might be for you to “read and copy” from the library of the people in your family. I’d be able to go into my wife’s camera roll and copy any photos from her library back to mine. This feature would have helped me in this wedding situation as I could have just copied it. It would also help day to day with photos of our kids. I could check my wife’s photo library once a week and copy the good ones back to my library. If I take some good photos, my wife could then copy one or two of them back to her library to share on Instagram or send off for printing.
Smart Library based on face scanning
Another Idea I had would be to designate faces that I want from my wife’s library I want to save back automatically. Doing this would mean syncing face information across family sharing. The flaw in this option is that I couldn’t get a photo without faces in them (scenery photos, etc.).
More Control over Caching
On iOS and macOS alike, I’d like to be able to control how much of a cache that the Photos app can keep offline. I know that both iOS and macOS does an excellent job of keeping free space, but I’d love additional control over how much space it uses. An idea here would to set a maximum GB usage that iCloud could use. On iOS, I’d like to be able to say: use no more than 10 GB (I have a 64GB phone) for iCloud Photo Library.
What else should Apple add to iCloud Photos in iOS 13? Let me know in the comments.