Programmatically Accessing Cloud Photo APIs

October 8, 2015

This is a short evaluation on whether one can perform a series of basic tasks using the APIs that cloud photo services provide.

We are imagining a scenario, where a mobile app user might want to retrieve a list of photos that they have previously stored on a cloud platform in order to review the photos, edit and delete them.

The cloud photo providers in question are:

The Providers

iCloud Photo Library

iOS developer documentation


Great, but proprietary API. All the functionality can only be accessed directly from a native iOS apps. This rules out any kind of web application. iOS under version 8.0. Seamlessly integrates local and remote photo content, which allows treating them without having to bother with the physical storage location.

Google Photos

Google Picasa Webalbums API documentation


API is messy and provides data in the Google Data format. Not a pleasure to use compared to RESTful APIs.


Flickr API documentation


RESTful API documentation. Very easy to read.

Facebook Moments

No API as of Oct 9, 2015

Amazon Photos

Cloud Drive API documentation


Well written RESTful API. Integrated into the Amazon Cloud Drive API.

No API as of May 22, 2015


The cloud photo providers with the most pizzazz are Amazon Photos and Flickr. Amazon Photos having a well written API is no surprise, as great APIs are one of Amazon’s core values when working with developers. Flickr also comes at no surprise since they’ve been around for a long time. iCloud’s walled garden fits into the whole isolated island thing they’ve got going. Google Photos might be more trouble than pleasure to use. Dropbox Carousel and Facebook Moments are the absolute losers as they have no API.

I would be thrilled to hear from you! Please share your thoughts and ideas with me via email.

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