iPhone finally gets iCloud Photo Library sharing with iOS 16.1

Apple iOS16.1 iCloud Photo Library
(Image credit: Apple)

Having been requested by photographers for years, it’s not surprising that an iCloud Shared Photo Library was one of the headlining features when Apple first showed off its latest operating system: iOS 16

We may have had to wait past the initial iOS 16 launch back in September, but today it finally launches along with iOS 16.1 – and here’s why we're seriously happy about it…

iCloud Shared Photo Library really does make sharing photos a lot quicker and easier, meaning you’re more likely to do so. Much better than the Shared Albums feature that’s been available for years, the iOS 16.1 feature lets you automatically, or manually, share your photo library – part of it or the whole lot. You can also directly share from your camera with a new toggle in your iPhone Camera app.

Collaborative iCloud library

Families and friendship groups are given a new way to share photos seamlessly with a separate iCloud library in iCloud Shared Photo Library, which facilitates six users working together on a library - collaborating, contributing, and enjoying. 

Users can choose to share existing photos from their personal libraries, or share based on a start date or people in the photos, which will come in really handy for photos of kids. 

As mentioned above, iCloud Shared Photo Library users can also choose to send photos to the Shared Library automatically using a new toggle in the Camera app. That’s not all either – Apple will send intelligent suggestions to share a photo that includes participants in the Shared Photo Library.

 As you’d expect, every user in a Shared Photo Library has access to add, delete, edit, or favorite shared photos or videos. They’ll all appear in each user’s Memories and Featured Photos too so that everyone can relive the best memories. 

Outside of iCloud Shared Photo Library really, iOS 16.1 brings a host of other headline features with it, including Live Activities, Clean Energy Charging, more detailed Screenshot UI, and the ability to delete Apple Wallet. 

How to use iCloud Shared Albums with iPhone

The great news is it's pretty simple to use iCloud Shared Albums with one of an iPhone for photography. There's a simple step-by-step on the Apple website, but we'll summarize it for you below.

First off, you'll need to Turn on Shared Albums:

  1. Go to Settings  > [your name] > iCloud > Photos, then turn on Shared Albums.
  2. Create a new shared album, by tapping Albums > New Shared Album.
  3. Title the album, then tap Next.
  4. Choose who you want to invite (with an email address or phone number), then hit Create.

You can also make an album public via an URL, by tapping it and then turning on Public Website.

How to get iOS 16.1 on your iPhone

Users can now install the iOS 16.1 update now by going to Settings > Software Update on a compatible iPhone or iPad. iOS 16.1 is a free software update that is available for iPhone 8 and later.

Discover our guide to the best iPhone for photography or if you're interested in a different model, check out the best camera phone.

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar, Space.com, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.