With high-resolution displays and equally capable cameras in every iOS device, the iPhone included, Apple is building itself a pretty impressive photography line-up. It's paired them off with super simple synchronisation, courtesy of iCloud, and a sturdy, simple management app in the shape of Photos for iOS.
Yet quite how the iPad files your photos and where it chooses to send them can still be confusing. It's not immediately clear what an Event might be, or how it differs from an Album, while the seemingly arbitrary deletion of pictures from your Photo Stream could well leave you scratching your head. So, too, could the difference between Photo Stream and your Photos themselves, any why the pictures you take on your iPhone seem to pop up uninvited on your iPad.
With a little orientation and a few minutes spent tapping around the interface, all should become clear, so here we'll guide you through the various features of Photos, the iPad's built-in image management tool. We'll show you how to organise your photos, manage your Photo Stream, import pictures from Windows – or directly from your camera – and how you can easily share them with friends.
Photos vs Photo Stream
There's a subtle distinction between the Photos and Photo Stream tabs in the Photos app. Any pictures or screen grabs that appear in the first were taken on your iPad. If you have an iCloud account and you've enabled Photo Stream (tap Settings | iCloud | Photo Stream) they'll be immediately copied to Apple's servers and from there synchronised to all of your other iOS devices.
At the same time, any photos or grabs that originated on those other devices will be synchronised via the server back to your iPad. They are the pictures that you'll see when you open Photo Stream.
Your photo stream will store a maximum of 1000 images from the last 30 days. Any that are older than that are deleted from the Stream, but won't be removed from the device on which they were shot. So, photos taken on your iPhone will appear on your iPad's Photo Stream, but if you don't want it to disappear from the Photo Stream there you’ll need to tap Edit, then the photo, then the Save button to store them on your iPad permanently.
Mac users can choose to set up either iPhoto or Aperture to synchronise their libraries across OS X and iOS. Windows users can do the same by downloading the iCloud Control Panel from icloud.com/icloudcontrolpanel. Open this from within Windows Control Panel and specify the default synchronisation folders on your PC. Any images dropped into the upload folder will be synchronised to your iOS devices, while images created on those devices will automatically appear in the download folder on your PC.
The iCloud Control Panel lets you specify which folders should handle synchronised Photo Stream images on your PC.
The Events tab will likely remain a mystery for most PC users as it's really only relevant to those using iPhoto on the Mac. It's used as a place in which to store synchronised Events from Apple's photo editing app for OS X.
Mac users can set iTunes to synchronise iPhoto Events to their iPads.
The simplest way to import photos is to use your Photo Stream folders in Windows, or iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac. However, you can also import images directly from a memory card or over USB using Apple's £25 iPad Camera Connection Kit. It works with all three iPad generations and supports standard image formats such as Jpeg and a range of RAW formats, plus H.264 and MPEG-4-formatted video.
The kit comprises two adaptors for the standard Dock connector, one of which is home to an SD card slot, while the other has a USB socket. Connecting either adaptor automatically opens the iOS Photos app, through which you can select the images you want to save to your library.
How to create and manage albums
Some albums are created automatically, such as Camera Roll and a folder of edited images maintained by iPhoto for iOS. However, you can also create your own, which makes the task of managing your photos much simpler as you can break them down into logical groups.
Tap the Albums tab, followed by the '+' at the top of the screen. Give your new album a name and tap Save. You now need to decide which images it should contain. Browse the Photos and Photo Stream tabs, tapping on the photos you want to add to the album. Tap Done when you have finished.
You can add further images to the album later by opening the Album and tapping Edit | Add Photos, and remove images by tapping Edit, selecting the photos to delete, and tapping Remove. They're released from the album, but not physically deleted from your iPad, so you'll still find them in the regular Photos tab.
Select a range of photos and add them to a new Album to make your library easier to manage and navigate.
How to delete photos
To remove images entirely from your iPad, go to the Album or Photo Stream where they're stored and tap Edit, then tap on each of the images to be deleted. Complete the process by tapping the red Delete button, followed by Delete Selected Photos to confirm the action.
Deleting images is simply a matter of selecting which ones you want to get rid of and confirming the action. If you have Photo Stream active then any you delete by accident can be recovered from iCloud.
How to share photos
You probably noticed that the button beside Delete was labelled 'Share'. Its function is obvious, but it's worth exploring its options as iOS 6 massively extended the integrated sharing tools. The ones that are open to you depend on how many images you have selected.
Select just one and you can use the full range: Twitter, Facebook, Email or Message, alongside the option to print or copy it, use it as wallpaper or the icon for a contact, and to save it to a shared Photo Stream. Shared Photo streams are published online, with a public URL you can pass on to friends and family with whom you want to share your image. They are turned off by default, so if you want to use this feature, activate it through Settings | iCloud | Photo Stream | Shared Photo Streams.
Select more than one but fewer than five images and the Twitter option disappears. Select more than five and you lose the option to email your images.
Note that just as Twitter was built in to iOS 5 at the core, the same is now true of Facebook, which means you can post direct to these two social networks from the default iOS apps without using a third-party client. If you're a member of either network, authorise iOS to post to your account through the Settings app. You’ll find the entries for Twitter and Facebook half way down the left hand column.
The range of sharing options open to you depends on the number of images you have selected at any one time. With just one selected or open you can use every option built in to iOS 6.