iOS 6 preview: Shared Photo Streams

iOS 6 preview: Shared Photo Streams

Photo Stream debuted in iOS 5 as part of iCloud and while it offered some nifty automatic backup and sync store and push features, it lacked a lot of the sharing and gallery features that made Mobile Me so family friendly. Now, with iOS 6, Apple is adding sharing back to their cloud photo solution, and while it's not the same as before, it could be just as social.

Here's how Apple describes Shared Photo Streams.

Now you can share just the photos you want, with just the people you choose. Simply select photos from the Photos app, tap the Share button, choose who you want to share your photos with, and they’re on their way. Friends using iCloud on an iOS 6 device or a Mac running Mountain Lion get the photos delivered immediately in the Photos app or iPhoto. You can even view shared photo streams on Apple TV. If the folks you're sharing with aren’t using an Apple device, they can view your photos on the web. People can like individual photos and make comments. And you can share as much as you want: Your shared photo streams don’t count against your iCloud storage, and they work over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

And, based on what Apple has shown off to date, here's how it works:

  • From your Photo Stream album, select the photos you want to share.

  • Choose the contacts you want to share the Photo Stream photos with.

  • A push notification will notify your contacts of the shared Photo Stream photo.

  • Shared Photo Stream photos appear in albums in the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad photo album.

  • Shared Photo Stream photos appear in the Photo Stream section of iPhoto and Aperture on Mac OS X.

  • Shared Photo Stream photos can be also be viewed in a web browser, including on Windows PCs.

  • Shared Photo Stream photos appear in the Photo Stream section of Apple TV as well.

While it doesn't work the same way the old MobileMe Galleries did, Shared Photo Stream do provide some interesting functionality all their own. The question is, with the ability to share photos already built into popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and services like Instagram and Path, does anyone really need Photo Streams to be shared as well? Perhaps, especially for those who don't really want to be social with their photos, but who only want to share them directly with a few friends and family members.

iOS 6 is scheduled for release this fall, perhaps as soon as September 19. For more on iOS 6 and Siri, check out:

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 6 preview: Shared Photo Streams


What isn't clear is once this Share Photostream is created, how to share more photos with it? By adding more photos to it manually?

You get an option to post it to photo stream just like the way you share a photo to email or iMessage.

This is going to be game-changing for families looking to share photos online--especially for iOS folks whose parents (like mine) who use Windows.

I personally have no need for any sort of "shared photo stream" beyond instagram, so as long as this shared photo stream feature can be disabled, I'm good.

I may have missed it above, but can multiples streams sync to the same Mac? We'd like more than one stream to bring pics into iPhoto (with one login).

Does this only work with Apple IDs? I have more and more family/friends moving to Apple, but not everyone.

I do have high hopes for this service. I don't have a MyFace page and I don't tweeter. As a social luddite I don't care about sharing bowel movements with strangers, but I do post images to friends and family from my iPhone from time to time. I don't want to share all photos with everyone all the time so creating on the fly streams will be very convenient. I can see how convenient Facebook is since it shows up like bad venereal disease in every loose application on the planet. But I also know people with Facebook that don't always like posting images through that service. They may benefit from this as well.

I think the bottom line with this is whether it is easy to use and what the quality of the posted image is. If you are immersed in the Apple ecosystem then this just might help you stay there and give Apple yet another opportunity to pull you out of the competition's advertising list.

I love the Apple products, yet they are starting to feel very Borg-like....and strangely I sort of like the sensation. But I also can't help but feel an anti-trust law suit in the works at some point. It reminds me of a portentous conversation that a young Adolf had with some friends over dinner where he suggested that perhaps Germany just wasn't quite large enough.