iOS 5 features: Photo album management

While not specifically called out as part of Apple's iOS 5 "cutting the (iTunes) cord" initiative, the ability to finally create and manage photo albums directly on-device for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is part of just that. No longer are you stuck with what you sync over via USB. Now you can add a new album and move photos between albums and from Camera Roll and Photo Stream (for iCloud) to albums.

Only Photo Stream pictures appear to be synced stored and pushed to all your devices, however, not the folder structure. That's a little disappointing. It would be great if whatever folder system you set up on your iPhone -- family, friends, dogs, hawaii trip, etc. -- would automagically be replicated on your iPad or iPod touch, but... baby steps.

Along with the photo editing features, on device album management is a great addition to iOS.

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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 5 features: Photo album management


When you hit the action button, instead of print (which was moved) you get copy, share, add to, and delete. If you select pictures, you can hit "add to" and move them to an existing or new album.

The idea of photo stream is not to back up your albums and what not, who wants doubles of all there pictures? The idea is that if you want a photo that you have taken on your iPhone and want it on your iPad you take it from the stream and add it to the album that you wish.

Actually, you cannot add a photo directly from the PhotoStream to your album. You must first save it to the Camera Roll. The reason is that the PhotoStream only keeps the last 1000 photos, and your album only holds the reference to a photo actually saved in one of your "synced" folders or Camera Roll.

That one always bugged me about IOS. Great.
Now, they need to add the ability to delete songs inside the iphone and not have to do it from itunes.

I don't like how apple does not include basic things into iOS. Like albums or simple photo edit such as rotate.

At this stage I am unable to sync newly created folders to iPhoto via USB-iTunes sync.
I do assume however that Apple will fix this otherwise what would be the point of being able to create Albums but can't sync them back to your Mac?
I am sort of disappointed as well that there is no way (not even a paid one) to sync your Gallery automatically to iCloud. Now all the MobileMe Gallery Users are left in the rain which is not very kind from Apple. So guess I will stick with my Picasa Album and using Webalbum to sync to the cloud. I can adjust the cache so that most of my photos are available offline as well.

+1 for WebAlbums!
I read somewhere that even if you add a picture to a new album, the original stays in the camera roll, & if you delete a pic from the camera roll, the copy in the new album will be deleted too. True? What a way to ruin great feature...

I did just this and now I lost all of my Pics. I wanted to move all the camera roll pics into a new album and just keep the camera roll for new pics only. After moving all pics to new folder, I deleted the originals in the camera roll. I didn't read the small print. I continued to delete and now all my pics from the last year are gone. What a stupid solution. Why does Apple insist on screwing with us in this way. Why can't I manage my files properly. Give us a central file system and let us delete, move, copy, sync files properly!! This is one of the reasons I want to get rid of Apple.

Agreed. I was so looking forward to this feature so that I could clean up my camera roll and get rid of a bunch of stuff in there that I still wanted on my phone but didn't want in my camera roll (backgrounds for instance). This doesn't help me clean up my camera roll at all. Boo.

I've been using Google's Picasa service ($5 for 20gb) for this along with an app called Webalbums. I've been happy with it as a backup. It can also act a a manual sync since my daughter and wife both upload pictures there and we can all access from our iOS devices.

Ok, I give up. Folks, on this topic..I have 1700 photos stored in 60 albums. Uh.. this used to of course just get synced via iTunes thus distributed to my devices. I do not GET how I'm supposed to retain all these PLUS utilize the photo stream for the new stuff? ICloud just removed, for example, on my iPhone, all the albums I had that had been nicely synced previously with iTunes are now gone. I am totally baffled. Help would be most appreciated!

This is the problem so maybe Apple can figure it out: There is this camera roll, all photos without any organization, say 1000 photos without any organization. Photos are for memories, so people organize them, fine, Apple allowed it to be organized by using Albums. But when you "moved" the photos into albums, there are not moved but only copied actually. That doesn't make sense. If Apple insists that what it should do is only "copy", why not make both options, that is, "move" and "copy" available? That should be a better use of language, and that should be fair to everyone.

All very fine except that you can COPY photos from the Camera Roll to other albums, but you CANNOT MOVE photos from the Camera Roll.
If you use the camera very much this quickly becomes a nightmare because every picture you have ever taken remains in the Camera Roll unless you are going to delete that photo "EVERYWHERE" -- there is no way to keep a photo from Camera Roll in another album and delete it just from the camera roll.

That's a great looking little infographic. Wouldn't really use those colors for that kind of information but cool layout! Thanks for identifying the makers!

Obviously, iOS 5 isn't copying the photos to the new Albums, it is just making a shortcut to the original in Camera Roll.
They layered in an organizing crutch rather solving the problem. That's helpful but I wish they had tagged the actions with a more accurate name and the thumbnails with shortcut indicators. (Apple had those before Windows did.) Then our expectations wouldn't have been so high.
Maybe they intend to do a more functional version in iOS 6 & didn't want to change the process again. Maybe they want feedback on how make it more intuitive for a touchscreen interface.