As early as 2021, Google stopped offering unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos. Two years later, Apple also says goodbye to a completely free cloud photo service.
In 2011, with iOS 5, Apple introduced the practical photo stream for automatically synchronizing iPhone photos with a Mac or PC. The service allows users to upload images to the cloud on their mobile device and then save them on their computer. Now the company is dropping the feature in favor of iCloud Photos.
Uploads will no longer be possible from the end of June
The Photo Stream service uploads the 1000 most recent photos from any device where users are signed in with their Apple ID. The images are stored in iCloud for 30 days and can be downloaded to any device during this time. This makes it possible, for example, to transfer holiday photos from the iPhone to the Mac or PC without a cable.
However, on June 26, 2023, Apple will end support for Photo Stream. After that, it should no longer be possible to load images into the iCloud via the service, as the company announced on its support page. The feature has now largely been superseded by iCloud Photos. If you continue to use them, you don’t have to fear any data loss with their abolition. Files in Photo Stream can still be found in their original form on the device that captured them. However, if users want the images on a specific device, Apple advises storing them in the appropriate library until the final shutdown on July 26.
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What Photo Stream alternative do Apple users have?
Those who already use iCloud photos are not affected by the change. Photo Stream users, on the other hand, need to switch to iCloud Photos if they want to continue storing images in the cloud. The service is available on iPhones and iPads running iOS 8.3 or later. There are two ways to activate:
- iphoneIdeas > photos > iCloud Photos set
- iphoneIdeas > username (Apple ID) > iCloud > photos > Sync this iPhone set
The downside to switching from Photo Stream to iCloud Photos is the limitation of 5 gigabytes of free iCloud storage. If you need more space, you have to take out an iCloud subscription, which starts at €2.99 per month for 200 gigabytes (GB). However, if you regularly back up photos and videos from the cloud to your Mac or PC, you should be able to cope with this limitation.
“It was clear that Apple would discontinue the free photo stream service, but it’s still annoying. I’m reminded of Google’s unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos, which suddenly stopped being free. The method is always the same: bind users to the service and then charge for it. At least switching to iCloud photos is still justifiable, since not only photos but also videos are stored here. But anyone who has used Photo Stream to regularly transfer pictures from the iPhone to the computer will miss the service. Because the pictures were simply deleted after 30 days and you no longer had to worry about them. While iCloud Photos allows the same type of transfer, content must be manually deleted from the cloud or the free storage will quickly fill up. “- Adrian Mühlroth, editor