Shared Photo Stream and Movies

There was some traffic on Twitter yesterday around a new Apple knowledge base article Photo Stream Limits.  Some people were under the impression that this article is saying that Apple will now host an unlimited number of your photos and videos.

This article doesn’t actually say that, although it doesn’t say they won’t do that.  But other pages on Apple’s site still mention the 30 day limit for iCloud photos, so it seems Photo Stream is still limited.

But this article does introduce some new capabilities that are rather interesting.

Did you know you can upload videos to shared Photo Streams?  Videos up to 5 minutes, exactly the kinds of videos you take on your phone, can be shared with up to 100 people, including yourself.  And the Apple TV can subscribe to those photo streams and play those videos.

This is the solution for managing “home movies” that I’ve been looking for.  I created a “Home Movies 2013” shared photo stream on my phone and added all the videos I’ve taken this year to it.  After all this uploaded, I can now play all these videos on my Apple TV.  This takes up none of my iCloud storage quota, and those files will stay online indefinitely.

To set this up on the iPhone:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Tap the Shared tab at the bottom.
  3. Tap the + button to create a new Shared Photo Stream, and give it a name, like “Home Movies 2013".
  4. Enter the names of anyone you’d like to share it with, and tap Create.
  5. Tap on your new Photo Stream.
  6. Tap the + button.
  7. Tap on all the videos you want to share, and then tap Done.

Your phone should start uploading videos, and some time later, you’ll be able to go to the iCloud Photos app on the Apple TV and see your “Home Movies 2013” shared photo stream with the videos in it.

So what are the relevant limits?

  • Maximum shared streams an owner can share: 100
  • Maximum number of photos per shared stream: 5000
  • Videos can be up to 5 minutes in length.

A video seems to count as a photo, so it seems the limit is 5,000 5-minute videos per stream, and up to 100 streams.  It’s not unlimited, and may be restrictive if you try to create topical photo streams (“Our trip to the park”) but used sparingly, this is perfect as a way of storing and sharing a collection of short home movies.