Eli5: Why is it that when you don’t have internet connection, some pictures on your phone show up as blurry until it gets reconnected?

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Eli5: Why is it that when you don’t have internet connection, some pictures on your phone show up as blurry until it gets reconnected?

In: Technology
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To make pages load faster, many mobile apps and web pages will cache (save) a lower-resolution version of images so that it can display them without having to wait for a reply from a web page (which takes long enough to be noticeable). Without a connection, it never retrieves the high-res version, and so the low-res one is all you see.

I think you’re probably referring to your own photo library. If you have an iPhone you are most likely using iCloud Photo Library. And this feature has two main settings: “Optimize Phone Storage” and “Download and Keep Originals”.

Optimize phone storage keeps all your photos on the cloud and only keeps certain high resolution photos available for quick viewing. It’s kind of like it creates a website with little previews of all your photos. Then when you want to view one, you tap on it, and it is blurry for a second or two as the full resolution version comes down from the cloud. If you don’t have internet, this photo will stay blurry. iCloud is set to keep any recently viewed full resolution photos for three days, then if you don’t look at them, back up to the cloud they go. This allows you to potentially have a photo library several times the actual storage of your physical phone.

Download and Keep Originals does exactly what it says. It keeps the original high definition photo physically on your phone. So even without internet you can look at them all without observing that blurring effect. Even so it will still blur and pull down any photos from shared albums even with download and keep originals enabled.