Amazon today released a new app called Cloud Drive Photos. The free app allows you to upload all your iPhone or iPod touch photos to the cloud. The images can be accessed from your iOS device, from your Mac, or from any web browser. You can also upload photos from a laptop or desktop computer with a free Amazon app for OS X, and see or download them to your iPhone or other iOS device. Photos can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email.
Amazon requires you have an Amazon account, and will provide 5 GB of free storage, about enough room for 2000 photos. Amazon also provides both Mac and Windows apps to handle file transfers and display the photos. Additional storage space costs US$10.00 a year for 20 gigabytes, or 100 gigabytes of storage for $50.00.
When you first open the app, Amazon asks for access to your camera roll. Then the app will start uploading as long as the app is open. If you're on a limited data plan, you can set the app to only upload when you are on WiFi.
This service competes with Apple's Photo Stream service, and of course there are services like Flickr and Dropbox that provide similar functionality. You can choose to back up specific photos or your entire camera roll. Amazon offers more free storage than Apple, and Apple will only store up to 1000 of your photos per stream for 30 days compared to about 2000 photos with no expiration from Amazon. With Apple, after 30 days you must sync to your main computer. It should also be noted that Photo Stream storage does not count against your Apple allocated 5 gigabytes of iCloud storage. I see the Amazon service as a nice extra backup to what Apple offers.
Apple is being challenged in several areas by competitors offering equal or better solutions. Of course Google has Google Maps, and even Yahoo has a free weather app that for many people is a better solution than the rather stale Apple iOS weather app. Amazon has also offered Cloud Drive File Sync for OS X, which gives users a free 5 gigabytes of storage, more than double the free storage offered by Dropbox. Of course only Apple can deeply integrate its apps into iOS, so the company has that advantage. Whether that integration overcomes some of the advantages of these new services will be up to you when considering what cloud solution to use. Also, be aware that if you are already using other Amazon Cloud services the free storage you get is 5 gigabytes total, not 5 for music, 5 for photos, 5 for files etc..