One of the first things many people noticed yesterday after upgrading to iOS 8 was that the Camera Roll and Photo Stream sections in the Photos app were completely missing. This left many people confused and alarmed as to where their Camera Roll photos went, and understandably so. However, your photos are not gone and nothing is missing. They're just in a different location now.
Where are all my Camera Roll photos?
Upon launching the Photos app for the first time after updating to iOS 8, you'll immediately notice that your dedicated Camera Roll and Photo Stream are now gone. Instead, there is a section entitled "Recently Added" that is followed by any albums you've created on your iPhone or iPad and a few default ones such as panos, videos, and a few others. Default albums can not be deleted. I'm not sure how long photos stay in Recently Added before being bumped out and into the Photos tab, but my hunch tells me it's somewhere around 30 days.
iOS 7 last year introduced new ways to organize photos into years, collections, and moments. Up until iOS 8, if you didn't want to use those sections and preferred thumbing through the thousands of photos in your Camera Roll, you had that option. Now with iOS 8, to view older photos that aren't fairly recent, you'll need to either use the Photos tab or create albums in the Albums tab in order to customize and sort photos the way you'd like.
The bottom line is this — the Camera Roll has been nixed in favor of using the Photos tab. Recently Added on the other hand is simply a collection of all your recently taken photos across all your devices. So just think of Recently Added as replacing your personal Photo Stream.
So what is iCloud Photo Library?
iCloud Photo Library is currently available in beta form. However, some folks don't seem to have this option while others do. I haven't been able to figure out a pattern as to why it's available to some and not others, iCloud Drive enabled or not.
Initially, many thought that iCloud Photo Library would be fully launched with iOS 8, but it seems as if Apple doesn't feel quite comfortable yet with removing the beta label. So by default it is turned off, and this could be causing a lot of the confusion.
Essentially, iCloud Photo Library is part of Apple's new iCloud Drive service. It will replace the way Photo Stream currently exists, mainly the 1,000 photos or 30 days limit. Instead, iCloud Photo Library will store as many photos as your iCloud Drive storage can hold. It also will sync any albums you've created on any iPhone or iPad that's also got iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive enabled, which means your photos stay organized and look the same no matter what device you're viewing them on.
Basically, iCloud Photo Library is all your photos, available everywhere. When OS X Yosemite launches next month, it will also support iCloud Photo Library as part of iCloud Drive. A point worth bringing up is that when you enable iCloud Photo Library in iOS 8, you'll receive a popup warning if you have any photos synced from iTunes. They will be removed and replaced with iCloud Photo Library.
So that begs the question, how do you transfer older photos from your computer to iCloud Photo Library? And the answer is that when iCloud Drive is available to the public for Windows and OS X Yosemite next month, you'll be able to drag and drop any photos you want to iCloud Photo Library, and they'll then be available to you on all your devices that support iCloud Photo Library.
Apple has announced that a brand new Photos app for Mac will be released in early 2015, which should make syncing and managing photos even less confusing.
How do I enable iCloud Photo Library?
In order to enable iCloud Photo Library, just go to Settings > Photos & Camera > and turn ON the option for iCloud Photo Library at the top. And remember that since the service is still beta, you should always make sure you have backups of your data, in this case photos, before you test it out.
I'm also assuming at this point that since iCloud Photo Library is part of iCloud Drive, you'll need to have that enabled as well. If anyone has information to the contrary, be sure to drop me a note in the comments. If you aren't sure how to enable iCloud Drive, we can walk you through via the link below, but also be sure you read the link explaining why you may want to wait in order to upgrade.
What if I don't enable iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library right now?
You can absolutely choose not to upgrade to iCloud Drive or iCloud Photo library right away. If you don't, the only difference you'll notice is that you'll have to use the Photos section in order to access older photos. You can also upgrade your iCloud storage without having to use iCloud Drive right now. Any storage that's added will instantly be available to you as well. Just keep in mind that album syncing across devices won't work just yet, with the exception of photos that you mark as favorites.
There are lots of other benefits that iCloud Photo Library and iOS 8 bring to the table such as the ability to sync edits and more. If you want an even more detailed explanation of the Photos app and how it hooks into iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library, hit the link below.