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What is Photo Stream?

And How Do You Use It?


Photo Stream is Apple's cloud-based photo sharing service that allows easy sharing of photos between devices. The photos can be viewed on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Apple TV as well as Macs and Windows-based PCs. Introduced with the iOS 5.0 upgrade, Photo Share has continued to evolve, with iOS 6.0 adding the ability to have shared photo streams.

You can turn on Photo Stream for any of these supported devices, and your latest photos will automatically be shared between any devices on your Apple account that have Photo Stream turned on. This means you don't have to actively download photos on your iPad that you took with your iPhone, if both devices have Photo Stream turned on, the photos will be shared automatically.

What is Shared Photo Stream?

Apple's Shared Photo Stream was introduced in iOS 6.0. While the default Photo Stream works for any device on the same Apple ID, Shared Photo Streams allow you to share a Photo Stream with friends and family. You can even have multiple Shared Photo Streams, so you can have one for family and close friends, another for more distant relatives, etc.

Photos taken with the device are not automatically shared. So there is no worry that the photo you take will automatically go out to everyone. In order to share a photo with your Shared Photo Stream, you have to select the photo in the Photos app and specifically share it.

You can also access Shared Photo Streams between your own devices, including Apple TV. And while the name implies "Shared", you don't have to share the photo stream with any friends. You can use it as a private stream between devices, or simply a way for Apple TV's screensaver to use specific photos.

Does Photo Stream Cost Anything?

No. Photo Stream and Shared Photo Streams are free services offered by Apple. You will need a supported device and an Apple ID to make use of Photo Stream, but the service will not cost you a subscription or sign up fee.

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