October 4, 2022
iOS 16 Makes Sharing Easier With iCloud Shared Photo Library

Apple is making it easier for users to collaborate on photo libraries with family and friends with the addition of the iCloud Shared Photo Library, an upcoming iOS 16 feature slated for release in the fall. The new feature was a small part of a slew of announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6, 2022. The annual event was held at the company’s Apple Park, a flagship headquarters in California, and simulcast on the Apple website. WWDC events typically focus on developers and software, but the occasional hardware unveiling does appear during the keynotes. This year, there was a focus on sharing and connecting through iOS 16, and part of that vision is the iCloud Shared Photo Library.

The core feature at the heart of iCloud Shared Photo Library — the ability to share photos and videos with other people — was already possible in prior versions of iOS. However, it was more limited and required sharing more than just photos. Sharing photos and videos with others could be completed by creating a Family Sharing group, which includes up to six people. While this does work as a method for sharing photos and videos, it is intended for families. As such, more aspects of the Apple ecosystem — like location, media, purchases, and subscriptions — are shared with members of a Family Sharing group. With iCloud Shared Photo Library, the company has made it possible to share just a photo album with others in a collaborative environment.

An iCloud Photo Library already exists in iOS, as does iCloud Family Sharing. But the iCloud Shared Photo Library will allow anyone to create a specific photo library for sharing and collaboration with others. An iCloud Shared Photo Library will be separate from other photo libraries on Apple devices, including the on-device library, the iCloud Photo Library, and a Family Sharing library. Users can add up to six people to the iCloud Shared Photo Library. All members will be able to view, add and manage content in the library without altering other libraries that can remain private. It should be an essential feature since photos can be hand-curated and shared without compromising a personal library or painstakingly sending images manually.

Apple has developed multiple intuitive ways to add and manage photos within an iCloud Shared Photo Library. The first, and most convenient way, is directly inside the Camera app pre-installed on Apple devices. With iOS 16, a new toggle will be added to the Camera app to automatically send a captured photo to the iCloud Shared Photo Library. Users might not save these photos on the device, which saves the step of deleting an image that was taken just to be shared. Additionally, the Photos app can use intelligence to suggest photos that should be shared with an iCloud Shared Photo Library. For example, if the app detects that a person in an image is a member of an iCloud Shared Photo Library, it will suggest that users should share the picture with that group.

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