What's the best online service for an all iOS household to store and share photos?
March 20, 2012 9:04 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is moving to an all-iOS home infrastructure: - iPhones - iPad - airprint printer - Apple TV No computer. Their died and they're not buying a new one. They don't have much or any local music or video content, but do have a ton of photos (like over 16GB by some large amount). What's the best way that you can think of, without them having to buy a computer, of storing photos and sharing them amongst all of their devices and with other people. Interested in hearing about both free and paid services. Also interested in camera app recommendations, other app recommendations, and service recommendations. This question gives some interesting camera app recommendations and I'll send that to him as well. Thank you.
posted by reddot to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Dropbox would be a good place to start. 2 GB for free, up to 100 GB for $19.99/month ($199.00/year).
posted by Telpethoron at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Apple's Time Capsule sounds perfect. It's basically a wireless N router with a 2TB hard drive in it that shares seamlessly with Apple products. Very slick.
posted by Capa at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2012

Yeah, but when the Time Capsule hard drive dies, if that's the only place they have the photos, they're toast.
posted by Dasein at 9:50 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Capa, how would they utilize the hard drive to store and share photos without a computer? I know there's a really slick iOS app to manage it, but I'm not sure where to go from there.
posted by jroybal at 9:52 AM on March 20, 2012

The Time Capsule is intended explicitly for use with Time Machine - eg, as a backup drive for Macs. It is not a general-purpose NAS. (Also, as Daesein points out, it's not a terribly safe solution from a backup perspective.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: At the moment, I think Flickr would be their best choice. It's built in to the Apple TV and their are apps for both iPad and iPhones. A Pro account is reasonably priced ($30 a year) and has unlimited uploads and storage. There is a desktop client to do the initial upload, although it may be a bit slow. They can make all their photos private if they wish.

The official Apple options all require running iPhoto on a Mac to organize photos, so they don't really work here. Maybe in the next version of iPad iPhoto, but not at the moment.
posted by smackfu at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I should add that there is iCloud Photostream from Apple as another option. It's good for effortless sharing of new photos among the family members / devices, but it isn't a good choice for archived photos. There is no organization and it only keeps 1000 photos.
posted by smackfu at 10:01 AM on March 20, 2012

I have been using a apple time capsule drive for a few years now and has worked perfectly as both a backup location for two laptops and as network storage for photos, video, and other random media. I would still strongly recommend a second, preferably off site, backup solution for some stuff.
posted by Captain_Science at 10:02 AM on March 20, 2012

Is the lack of computer due to cost or simplicity? If the latter, then why not get an extra 64GB iPad to serve as "The Photo iPad". Locate it centrally in a dock, and you can upload photos to it with a Camera Connector Kit or save them from the Photo Stream if they are taken with iOS devices. Personally, I would be scared to have all my photos on one device, but if you keep the most important ones copied onto other devices or uploaded to Dropbox or Flickr or similar, that would be safer.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2012

I agree that Flickr would be a good choice, but he'll have to upload new photos one-by-one. (He should definitely use a desktop to do the initial upload if at all possible.) With Photostream, though, he'll have all the photos from any device all together, so he could use iPhoto to pick out the good ones and email those to Flickr. Flickr wouldn't be holding all of his photos, just the good ones, but maybe that's good enough for his needs. Photostream would have the last 1000 , so that gives plenty of time to do editing and curating on a weekly or monthly basis.
posted by davextreme at 1:22 PM on March 20, 2012

Routers don't need much babysitting, so whatever they have is probably good, but there's a very nice Airport Utility app for iOS if they get an Airport Express base station. The Extreme would be overkill for them since they won't be plugging in any computers with ethernet, and the express can let them stream music to a room if they put it somewhere the Apple TV isn't.
posted by davextreme at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2012

iCloud is the answer.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: Hi there! Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Does anyone have experience with SmugMug or PhotoBucket?

I don't think that iCloud will work:
- It can back up an individual iOS device but has no real way to merge photos between devices or share them with others
- PhotoStream only works as an archive if connected on a computer w/ iCloud control panel
- For either of those to work, you'd have to have the same iCloud account on all iOS devices, which would mean paying for additional storage

Airport Extreme w/ a hard drive or a Time Capsule won't work b/c there's no way for an iOS device to put photos on there.

They are going iOS only for both cost and simplicity, I think. I hadn't thought of getting a second iPad for photo storage. I'm not sure that I like the idea due to reliance on a single device, but it is interesting!

There are camera apps, like Camera Awesome, which can upload every photo taken automatically to a variety of services, so that would be good as future photos are taken. I think there are also uploading apps that might be able to upload multiple photos at a time.

I like the Flickr idea, since I didn't know it's built into the AppleTV. I'll check for apps that specifically work for that. Is anyone worried about Yahoo ditching or killing Flickr off suddenly?

If anyone has any further suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
posted by reddot at 6:21 PM on March 20, 2012

SmugMug is pretty great, but I'm unfamiliar with their iOS support. iCloud's Photo Stream is cool for sharing the last 1000 photos but is most definitely not the answer.
posted by TimeDoctor at 11:26 PM on March 22, 2012

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