Daily App: Spheres for iOS is a new way to share photos with family and friends

Spheres is a clever take on photo sharing from iOS devices. Open the app and take a picture, or load one from your camera roll. The picture goes to the cloud, and people that you assign to a group -- called a 'Sphere' -- will receive the photos without having to do anything if they are also running the app. Other individuals can be contacted via email or text message, and they receive a link to view the photos in a browser. Photos can also be shared with social networks including Facebook and Twitter.

Spheres has some similarities with Apple's iCloud Photo Sharing service. Apple doesn't use a special app, but shared photos alert anyone you wish to notify, and viewers can comment on or 'like' your photos. Apple also allows others to post photos or videos to your stream from any iOS device, Mac or PC. The Apple service creates web pages for universal sharing and also integrates nicely with Apple TV for viewing streams on large screen displays.

Spheres is more automatic. Snap some photos using the camera app built into Spheres, and everyone in your Sphere is notified and receives the new images. A message with a link also is sent so people in the Sphere can view photos on the Web from any device without the app. The app does not currently support iOS notifications, but that feature is coming soon.

No account is needed to view images, but Sphere accounts are required for adding pictures. The accounts are free, and you can create a login or use your Facebook credentials.

Comparing Spheres to Apple's iCloud offerings, Spheres developer Adam Peterson says "We are trying to create an easier way to privately share Spheres with users in the same geolocation. Anyone can add photos to the Sphere as long as they are invited by the creator." He provides this example of how it can be used.

"For example, I create a sphere for my Son's 7th birthday party and we invite all his friends from his class. I know his friends parents are going to be taking a lot of photos at that event and I'm not necessarily close enough friends with them to have phone number or email. This is a way for all attendees at this event to share photos privately with all attendees. This is similar to paying a professional photographer to take photos of the kids at the event but it is free and everyone that is at the event gets all photos instantly."

The app is easy to use and works as expected. The only risk is if the developer drops support for the app, because the photos you take with the app are not saved to your camera roll but to Spheres' servers (there is an option to manually save to your camera roll). Spheres maintains its own servers, and has no limits on the amount of photo postings. I think the longevity of your photos would be assured if the app saved your photos to the camera roll automatically.

Spheres has a privacy policy similar to many other photo-sharing apps. Your pictures remain your property and can't be exploited by third parties, but the company reserves the right to delete offensive materials if there is a complaint.

Spheres is not a universal app. It requires iOS 6.0 or later, and it is optimized for the iPhone 5.