Dropbox’s automatic camera upload feature is a poor substitute for Dropsync, but I’ll take what I can get on iOS

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One of my favorite Android apps is Dropsync. It allows you to set up sync pairs between local folders and Dropbox, syncing files between them based on certain rules (one way, two way, on WiFi only, instantly, etc). It has worked well, and survived through me trying out alternatives that seem better on paper, but don’t work nearly as well in practice (like Foldersync). I use it to sync photos, screenshots, backup files, and a whole bunch of small text files that my Tasker creations generate. It always runs in the background, and catches new files or file changes within a couple of seconds. 

With me selling my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and getting an iPad mini, I’m down one Dropsync-capable device. When I installed Dropbox on my mini, I therefore turned on the app’s auto camera upload feature for the first time ever. It doesn’t sync any other files but photos and small videos, lacks configuration options, and it requires the app to be launched in order to work. The difference is naturally night and day; On one device, all sorts of file types magically appear in my Dropbox ten seconds after being created, on the other, I have to launch and app, and only get photos and video. For other files, I still have to send them from the apps they’re in, assuming the apps support that.

Still, at least it’s something. Having photos auto-upload when the app opens is after all faster than having to manually upload them, it’s just not nearly the level of convenience I’m used to. Nor is it possible to get that kind of functionality on iOS, as the OS is locked down in every way possible. Even if it wasn’t, Dropbox’ official app is frankly rather shitty, as it doesn’t offer anything more advanced on Android either. I doubt this aspect of iOS will ever change, and there doesn’t seem to be any jailbreak apps that can handle the job either – I’ve looked.

Luckily, iOS isn’t all Dropbox-disabled. Some apps have fairly decent Dropbox integration in them, like Goodreader. Goodreader allows you to set up folder syncing inside the app, and you can then essentially work on Dropbox files in the app and sync the changes back. I use that feature a lot, and actually prefer it over what I did on Android, which was to Dropsync files to a local folder that the horribly useless PDF apps on Android (MeeGo reader, ezPDF, etc) then looked in.

Using iOS is all about island jumping. Apps are islands, they can hardly communicate at all, and require you to be the messenger when they do. Android, on the other hand, has apps that are often much more willing and capable of working together. Unfortunately the quality of individual apps favor iOS much more, which is why I’m stuck using both.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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