What is the iCloud Photo Library and how does it work?

Wondering what iCloud Photo Library is? How it differs from the regular Photo Stream, and how to use it on iOS 8? We have the answers!

iCloud Photo Library is a new service (beta) that moves the user’s entire photo and video library into the cloud. The service is intended to sync a user’s iDevices so that all their data remains updated at all times, allowing them to easily switch between iOS and Mac devices.

What’s the difference between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream?

The primary differences include:

Photo Stream

iCloud Photo Library

Only saves images taken within the last 30 days and at max 1000 photos, whichever is greater. Has no limit. Can store all your personal videos and photos, as long as your iCloud storage (package) supports it.
Does not use your iCloud storage space Uses your allotted iCloud storage space
Compatible across all devices including PC, Mac, iPad, and iPhone Currently, limited accessibility. Can be used on iPad and iPhone via icloud.com. Photos app for Mac and Windows has yet to arrive.
Web-optimizes your photos before uploading. May result in quality degradation. Supports diverse range of file formats, including TIFF, GIF, PNG, RAW, and JPG, among others. Hence, stores full-resolution photos on the server.
Limited to photos. Cannot upload and sync videos Uploads and syncs videos and photos
When Photo Stream is enabled, it lets you sync your photos and albums from your PC and Mac via iTunes. Restricts syncing via iTunes of your photos and albums using iCloud Photo Library. Removes existing albums when the service is enabled.


How to switch to iCloud Photo Library on iOS8

After you first install iOS 8, you will be prompted to use the iCloud Photo Library when you use the Photos app. If you had dismissed the option, you can easily find it in the Settings app. It is available under iCloud Photos > Settings.

From the iCloud section click upgrade and select the option. It’s like buying on App Store, and you get the capacity immediately.

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