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Jeremiah Billmann

iOS, iCloud, and SkyDrive Oh My!

musings, cloud, skydrive, ios3 min read

My wife and I recently had our first child.

Apparently... that changes things.

Lots of things. Many things. Tons of things. Wait a second, why didn't anybody warn me about this?!

Anyways, these changes also had an impact on our phones.


You see, smartphones have replaced parent's need to own a separate, single camera. So if you throw a baby, (figuratively, not literally, people!) and a couple of parents armed with smartphones into a room, you have yourself a gigantic photo management nightmare.

Houston, we've had a problem.

The big question becomes:

How do we possibly manage all of these damn photos?! There are so many damn photos and I just want to sleep!

Too. Many. Questions.

Not. Enough. Answers.


I've used a Windows Phone (7, 7.8, 8) for over the past two years and I'm a fan. I think it offers the most innovative UX for mobile touch and I enjoy the simple, minimalistic UI. I had no plans to ditch my Windows Phone, but as I noted earlier, babies change things.

My wife, on the other hand, has used an iPhone (3GS, 4s, 5s) over the past few years and she loves it. She's wonderful, but to her, there are no other smartphones.


We compromised, I got an iPhone.

I kid, there's more to it than just that, allow me to explain.


I'm not saying this solution will work for everybody because obviously it won't. But I've given it a lot of thought, it works for us and maybe somebody else will find it useful.

My wife and I, now, both own iPhones (5s, not that it matters).

We have a single, paid SkyDrive account to which we both auto-sync our iPhone photos to via the SkyDrive app. We chose SkyDrive mainly because of cost and accessibility - quite frankly, you just can't beat it.

When we take pictures with our iPhones, they are immediately sync'd into our individual iCloud accounts (the free 5GB that you are allotted). SkyDrive does its thing behind the scenes and auto-magically copies those same photos into its own cloud (our single-source-of-photo-truth-cloud), thereby freeing ourselves from having to do it manually. This is important because we still have "photos at our fingertips" without having to go into the SkyDrive app.

We do not text each other photos.

Let me repeat that.

We do not text each other photos.

If we were to save a photo from a text message to our iPhone Photos, it creates the potential problem of syncing duplicate photos to our SkyDrive.

Instead, we leverage iCloud Photo Sharing. This allows you to share photos between multiple devices and iClouds - two iPhones in our case. So when either of us wants to share a photo immediately, and with notification, we use iCloud Photo Sharing. Here again, we don't have to go into the SkyDrive app to fetch a photo that the opposing parent just took. It's also important to note that shared photos (via iCloud Photo Sharing) do not get pulled into the SkyDrive syncing process.

Look Ma, No Hands!

Let's recap.

SkyDrive takes care of automatically backing up our iPhone photos to a single, shared account without us having to, quite literally, ever open up the app. Hands free ma!

iPhone Photos, and subsequently the iCloud, act as a temporary storage whereby we can still access photos we take without having to go into the SkyDrive app. We can also easily persist these photos with each generation of the iPhone.

iCloud Photo Sharing bridges the gap between SkyDrive and iCloud as it allows us to immediately share photos with notifications, here again without creating a need to go into the SkyDrive app.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, since SkyDrive is accessible from virtually anywhere, we can access and manage all of our photos on any device, tablet, PC, pablet, phablet, kitchen sink, etc.

In our case, the driving factor was a baby, but this could be applied to a variety of scenarios.

So... that's why I switched from using a Windows Phone to an iPhone. Not that it matters.