iOS 5 was released this week with a large list of improvements and new features. One new feature that I’ve come to love immediately — I have used the iOS 5 developer beta — is the PhotoStream feature of the update Photo app. Smartphones have grown in popularity and so along with the resolution and sensitivity of the cameras in those devices. My iPhone 4 has a five megapixel (MP) camera and the newly announced iPhone 4S will have an 8MP camera. When you consider how lightweight and compact smartphones are and that we have them with us everywhere we go, you can understand why many people are neglecting their point-and-shoot digital cameras and instead opting to use the camera apps in their smartphones.
PhotoStream is a feature of iCloud and iOS 5 that enabled smartphone photography like never before. With PhotoStream almost every photo I take with my iPhone – there is a 1000 photo limit – are automatically saved to iCloud for up to 30 days. Why is that a big deal? Imagine being on vacation somewhere pleasant and tropical. You’ve snapped away on your camera for a few days when suddenly the camera warns you that you have exhausted the memory card. Yikes WIth PhotoStream you don’t need to worry. You can store 1000 of your most recent photos. You can use the new editing features of the Photo app to make enhancements including red-eye reduction.
What’s really cool is that PhotoStream works on both the iPad and the iPhone. That means that my iPad can use (and edit) the photos taken on my iPhone that are save in my PhotoStream. I can use the larger screen of the iPad with more capable apps to make more detailed edits which I can save back to PhotoStream. With PhotoStream, the iPhone and the iPad are partners.
PhotoStream is enabled from the Settings app on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
There are quite a few other features of iOS 5 that are enabled by iCloud and PhotoStream is just one of them.
But there’s one more thing. An update to iLife make iPhoto work with iCloud. Now image that you’ve taken hundreds of photos on that vacation using your iPhone. You return from your vacation and launch iPhoto to download your photos from your camera. But, surprise, because your photos have been stored in iCloud, iPhoto automatically downloads them for you. No cables! But that’s a different blog post.