Photo Stream and one-way syncing of photos

Q: Can the iCloud Photo Stream feature send photos from my iPod touch to my iPad but not send photos from my iPad to my iPod touch? I only want newly added photos from my iPod touch to appear on my iPad, but I don’t want my iPad sending photos to my iPod touch. Can this be done?

– Anonymous

A: Unfortunately, this is not the way Photo Stream is designed to work. Once enabled on a device, Photo Stream pushes all new photos from that device up to iCloud and downloads everything that’s already in the Photo Stream to that device’s Photo Stream section. Essentially, the idea is that the “Photo Stream” album should be consistent across all devices. There is no way to disable Photo Stream downloading while still uploading new photos, or vice-versa.

Note that the Photo Stream will always appear as a separate virtual album, however, and the Camera Roll will still only include photos taken or saved on each individual device. Further, if you’re concerned about storage capacity, it’s worth noting that photos downloaded into the Photo Stream are scaled down to about 3.1 – 3.5 megapixels.

That said, depending on what you specifically want to do, there are alternatives that may be worth considering. One such option is the Shared Photo Streams feature found in iOS 6. Shared Photo Streams work like independent albums in your Photo Stream. Photos are not automatically added to a Shared Photo Stream, but you can manually add those iPod touch pictures that you want on your iPad, and they will be transferred across to the other device. In addition to having to add them manually, the other downside is that Shared Photo Streams downscale photos before they’re uploaded to around 3.1 – 3.5MP, however if you’re using an older iPod touch model, this won’t be an issue as this is higher than your original camera resolution. Unlike the main Photo Stream feature, Shared Photo Streams also have the advantage of working over a cellular data connection.

Another alternative is to use a third-party app and cloud service. Dropbox, for example, provides a feature in its iOS app that will automatically upload new photos from your Camera Roll to your Dropbox account. Due to iOS’ limitations on background apps, this required opening the app to initiate the upload, but the process is handled automatically otherwise. The Dropbox app can also be used to view any photos that are automatically uploaded without taking up any local storage on your device.

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