Not happy with PhotoStream on your iOS device? Amazon now has its own cloud-based offering for iOS: Amazon Cloud Drive Photos. It was released on the iOS App Store on Thursday.
Apple’s issues with mobile photos and cloud storage were brought to light this week with a great post from an app developer, Peter Nixey. In a widely circulated personal blog post, he expressed his frustration with Apple’s current approach to managing photos on the desktop and on mobile. He presciently noted there would be a time when competitors — he named Google or Dropbox — would come along with better cloud-storage options for mobile photos.
Well, here comes Amazon with one such solution. Cloud Drive Photos, already available on Android, is a place to store all your photos (“thousands,” according to the company). Images taken with an iPhone or iPod touch get uploaded automatically to Cloud Drive when the app is opened. And you can also see any of your photos stored in the cloud on the device with the app. It’s free, and available on the iOS App Store now.
Just like Google with Maps, Search and Mail and Facebook with social things, Apple’s biggest and most important competitors are repeatedly besting Apple on its own platform when it comes to producing well designed, popular basic apps that are core to the mobile experience.
This Amazon app is different than, say, Yahoo being better at making a weather app than Apple. Or Kindle being a better ereader app than iBooks — sort of embarrassing, but not really areas Apple considers its core mission.
But the secret behind Amazon’s cloud-based photo storage is something at which Amazon is verifiably awesome, and something at which Apple is not: the cloud. Even with its billion-dollar data center and more on the way, Apple repeatedly struggles with keeping its cloud-based services reliable for users. And even when things are added to iCloud, like photos, some users still run into problems, as outlined in the link above, with multiple copies or confusing organization.
The more troubling part of it all is that Apple’s cloud services aren’t just supposed to be something added on to its hardware offerings. Linking users’ data, whether it’s photos, music, videos, documents, email or messages, and making it accessible regardless of device, is part of Apple’s plan for growth. As CEO Tim Cook has said, it’s at the centerpiece of its strategy for the next decade.
Apple’s going to have to start offering far better core mobile apps that connect with its cloud if it doesn’t want Amazon and others to peel users off to their own services.