When Apple released Photos for Mac alongside iCloud Photo Library earlier this year, the promise that I’d finally be able to synchronize all my photos from both my iPhone and digital camera across my devices was alluring.
I uploaded a chunk of my photography from the last few years – about 40GB excluding RAW images – and went off sailing for a few days. Unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out how I’d hoped.
The simple act of shoving 40GB of photos into each of my devices has caused the photopicker on both my iPad and iPhone to take an age to load (despite having selected “optimize iPhone space”). The dates on photos are all mixed up, despite being set correctly. Syncing breaks all the time. My photos are locked in Apple’s proprietary file format.
iCloud Photo Library just isn’t ready for the big time yet. It’s better than what we had, but it’s broken right now.
I wish I could say we have a bunch of great options for storing photos in the cloud, but each option has ultimately driven me back to relying on expensive NAS storage at my house.
Flickr offers one of the most compelling services with 1 terabyte of storage for free, but doesn’t support RAW images which takes it out of the running.
Dropbox is a good option for dumb library synchronizing, but it’s a little clumsy to deal with if you use a lot of devices and doesn’t really have a nice way to managing photos the go (its dedicated photo app, Carousel, isn’t sufficient).
I use Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and management. It would make a lot of sense for Adobe to build in a great cloud-sync service. It has one, but it’s fairly limited and doesn’t allow you to sync everything.
There was a perfect service in the past, called Everpix, which offered unlimited storage and a compelling interface for wrangling your photos, but it ultimately died as storage costs were too high and it didn’t charge customers enough to offset it.
Google is reportedly on the cusp of getting back into providing a cloud photography library again and I’m hopeful that it might be able to pull it off this time around. Google+ has great photo features, but they’re tied to a social network, which lessens their appeal.
The company does have a photo service in the past called Picasa, which is still floating around, but it’s outdated now and Google appears to have given up on it.
A separate cloud service, however, sounds intriguing. I’d be willing to pay a sizable amount of money per month for something that works well.
Despite the fact that photo libraries are growing to unwieldy sizes, it’s a problem that still hasn’t been successfully solved. Some, like iCloud Photo Library have come close, but there’s plenty of room for something better.
Will Google finally fix it? I hope so.