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Interesting Observation on Syncing Photo Libraries to iOS Devices


By Louis Trapani - Posted on 17 June 2010

Before getting an iPad, I belabored over the model size I should get. I knew that 16GB would be out of the question, as I have too much media. 32GB seemed right because I have been managing the same storage size on my iPhone quite well over the past year.

My plan was to sync my Aperture photo library to the iPad. After all, making the iPad a portfolio for my photography was part of the reason of getting one. With that said, the iPad has a larger screen than the iPhone 3GS. Will it need more space? iTunes may optimize the image files larger than what it does for the iPhone 3GS.

Although I was leaning towards the 32GB model, perhaps the 64GB would be the better bet. Now usually I would always get the largest capacity on these devices (iPhones, iPods, etc.) because I always have more media than they can hold anyway. But now I need to be far more mindful of the expense, so if I could get away with a smaller capacity and come away with the savings, that would be advantageous.

Thanks to third party apps like Air Video which will stream video content to your device instead of storing it locally on it, it meant that I need not store as much video on it as I had originally thought. Freeing up space for other media, such as my photo library.

So here is the interesting thing I noticed syncing the same Aperture photo library (approximately 12,200 photos) to different devices using iTunes, pay attention to the photo library size and screen size of each.

  • iPhone 3GS: Photo Library size is 8.77 GB and it has the smallest screen.
  • iPad: Photo Library size is 4.x GB (with a larger screen than the iPhone 3GS)
  • Apple TV: Photo Library size is 2.71 GB and it has the largest display (connected to a 1080p HDTV)

Obviously iTunes is optimizing the images to the smallest file sizes for the Apple TV, yet I would think since these would be likely to be displayed in the largest format, and are indeed in my case, that these would have the largest image sizes. Yet the iPhone 3GS, has the smallest display, has the largest optimized photo file sizes it seems.

Note that I am taking the yet-to-be released new iPhone 4 out of the equation right now. The iPhone photo library had been roughly this size since the beginning. Though I know that with the iPhone 4, those iPhone photos will look even better since its display has four times the definition than the previous iPhone.

I find it interesting that the same synced photo library on each device have take up space opposite of what one might expect. And yes, I know that the Apple TV is not an iOS device (yet).

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Just days after I posted this article, Apple has released iOS 4 for the iPhone. After installing it on the same iPhone 3GS, it appears that the photo library size has been adjusted. It re-optimized the 12,200 photos and reclaimed a few GBs on the iPhone. See my post: Up and Running with iOS 4

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