Recent and favorite photos and videos should be saved by default


If there’s anything in the Photos app that I’d likely want to show on my iPhone, these would be my recent and favorite photos. However, the only way I can be sure I can do this with or without a mobile data connection is if I keep local copies of everything.

That’s because Apple only offers a two-way choice: keep all your photos and videos in local storage on your phone, or let your iPhone manage things automatically, and decide for itself when to free up storage only to iCloud…

Automatically managing iPhone volumes is, of course, quite one of Apple’s methods. The company likes to hide tech stuff from users, so just slide the toggle to Optimize Storage and let the iPhone take care of it.

But, like many of Apple’s features, it appears to have been designed by someone who has never left Silicon Valley’s always-connected environment.

I recently wanted to show someone a video I shot on my iPhone. But despite the fact that it was a short video taken just a few days ago, and I was only using 161GB of storage on my 256GB phone, iOS decided to delete the local copy. Since we weren’t on wi-fi, and in a location with poor mobile data coverage, watching 4K video proved impossible.

In theory, Apple applies some intelligence to the way it dumps photos and videos. But instead of keeping the most recent captures, it applies a kind of black box magic to determine which ones you’re likely to watch. But the end result of the black box decision seems to me effectively random.

So instead of binary selection for everything stored locally, or unmounting arbitrary media, what I want is some manual control. (I know: I can hear the sharp breathing from Apple Park, too.)

Specifically, I’d like the option to put two bases, provided I have enough free storage space.

Keep recent photos and videos

By default, keep local copies of all the photos and videos you took in the past 30 days.

Some exceptions may be needed, such as if you filmed a 2-hour event in 4K. That would take more than 20GB of storage, and it probably wouldn’t make sense for a single file stored locally to take up that much space. Likewise, if you were on the trip of a lifetime and took sixteen gazillion photos, those photos might have to be archived.

But, aside from cases aside, leave the past month’s photos and videos alone, please.

Save your favorite photos and videos

If I prefer a photo or video, this should be a clue that I will likely look at it again often – so again it would make sense to keep local copies of these by default.

Video dilemma solving

Of course, no settings should cause the Photos app to use every other kilobyte of storage space. iOS should always leave a certain amount of storage free for additional apps, new photos, etc.

In particular, iOS faces a dilemma with video. She has no idea when the next video will be shot, or how much free space she might require. Since 4K video requires quite a bit of storage, it needs to keep a decent portion for free.

Users certainly wouldn’t be impressed if they hit to record a video in a private moment, only to find that recording was unavailable – or stopped early – because they ran out of storage. But I think this can be addressed in one of two ways.

First, note my personal usage patterns. If I frequently shoot half hour videos, leave enough room for one of these at all times. If, as with me, I usually shoot anything from a few seconds to two minutes, there’s no need to leave free storage space.

Second, if this is deemed too risky or complicated, leave 30 minutes of recording time free at all times. No one will miss a special moment by not being able to record for more than half an hour.

This can be done by switch

Note that I am not saying that any change should be forced upon the people. Black magic automation should always be an option.

My initial thought was to switch in the Photos section of the Settings app. Optimize phone storage It becomes a partition instead of a single switch. There will be then Always keep local copies option, with everythingAnd the automaticAnd the determinant and options. Within the latter there will be three switches:

  • All photos and videos
  • Photos and videos taken in the last 30 days
  • Photos and videos are marked as favorites

But then I realized there is a simpler way to do it.

Or just keep your recent and favorite photos

You have two system albums: Current Favorite one and another called accident (taken within the last 30 days). By default, keep local copies of photos in both albums. This is it.

The current settings remain the same – Optimize phone storage or Download and keep originals – and if you choose Optimize, the above rule will apply as long as there is enough storage space. If storage space is low, Apple must apply black box rules.

Is this a change you’d like to see? Please take part in our survey, and share your thoughts in the comments.

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