October 14, 2011, 11:12 AM — One of the most highly anticipated aspects of iOS 5 and iCloud is Photo Stream, which silently syncs up the photos on your iOS devices with a photo store on your computer. (I'm using a Mac for this, but you can do it with a Windows computer too.) If you're like me, around the time you got an iPhone was the time you stopped using a standalone camera to capture moments you're interested in. It's great to have a decent camera on your person at all times (photographers have an adage: "The best camera is the one that's with you"), but I never seem to sync my pictures up with iPhoto, leaving my bank of iPhoto memories to end abruptly in early 2009. Photo Stream promises to fix this, and does -- but, once again, there are some quirks to work out.
Oh, you didn't think it'd be free, did you?
Photo Stream is a part of iCloud, so you'll need to set up your iCloud account both on your iOS device (you'll be prompted to do this early on) and on your computer, which you can do on the spiffy new iCloud control panel. Once you've given your Apple ID and password, the control panel will chug through your various apps and "prepare" them for iCloud. But when it gets to Photo Stream, you might be in for a little unpleasant surprise.
While I'm obsessive about keeping my OS up to date, I don't play with the iLife apps enough to pay to upgrade them. And my version of iPhoto was, I thought, relatively up to date -- it was the latest and greatest when I bought my laptop, less than 18 months ago. But it's not ready for iCloud, and getting it ready cost money. Fortunately (?), Apple has developed a whole infrastructure for making that extremely easy; I was able to upgrade for $15 via the Mac App Store without incident (unless you count me grumbling about the $15 spent as an "incident.")
So once all my various chunks of technology were up to snuff, I started actually using Photo Stream. Turns out it's dead simple -- but like a lot of dead simple things, it can be a bit frustrating if you like to exercise fine-grained control.