Apple’s iCloud Photos beta app was removed from the iCloud.com Web interface last week, temporarily eliminating the ability of iCloud Photo Library users to view and access their synced photos online. While the service is not yet fully restored — the Photos icon is still missing from the iCloud.com home screen — many users are reporting that the service is now working again if accessed directly at icloud.com/#photos while logged in.
The iCloud Photos beta is just one component of Apple’s new cloud-based photo initiative. On the mobile side, users can choose to enable the iCloud Photo Library, which automatically syncs photos to iCloud and a user’s other iOS devices. Similar functionality existed previously with Apple’s Photo Stream feature, but new to the iCloud Photo Library is the ability to automatically store the large original image files on iCloud servers while syncing smaller device-optimized versions to users’ devices, which has the potential to save a significant amount of storage space.
On the desktop side, Apple publicly retired both its consumer (iPhoto) and professional (Aperture) OS X photo applications last year, promising to replace them with a hybrid app that aims to blend consumer-level usability with professional-grade power. Apple has set a launch target for the app, simply called “Photos,” of “early 2015,” although the company has provided no information or demonstration since it unveiled the app this past summer.
One of the few glimpses provided by Apple of the upcoming 'Photos' app for OS X.
There’s no word yet on what caused the temporary removal of the iCloud Photos app, or when the app’s icon will reappear on the iCloud.com home screen.