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My One iPhone SDK Question

I have only one iPhone SDK question: Is it possible and/or easy to synchronize data with desktop computers?

I ask because the first application we intend to make for the iPhone is an add-on for Scorecard. It will allow users to enter their stats on the golf course, then ideally to "synchronize" them with the desktop app (on Windows and Mac OS X) when they return home. And of course we'll want to make sure the user's iPhone has the user's course and tee details, so we need a way to copy that information from the desktop app to the iPhone.

At the present time, this doesn't appear to be possible. Failing any sort of "file movement," I wonder if we'll be able to automate something like emailing of a round of statistics (as an XML file or whatever) easily.

17 Responses to "My One iPhone SDK Question"

  1. Well, the iPhone/iPod can sync back to the Mac when it comes to iTunes (played songs, played podcasts, etc.). Isn't that XML in the end?

  2. In my mind so far (as someone looking to create an iPhone information app), the way I'd look to do it would be using Bonjour to connect the apps together and send the data over the network. Wireless syncing. Pretty simple to achieve that, the hardest part would be to implement the actual sync part.

    There's probably different ways to implement the communications between the apps, but the hardest part will always be the actual syncing of the data.

  3. I don't see any sync services yet. You should file a feature request bug report with Apple. This is obviously something they need. I imagine they're working on it already, but you know apple.. they use duplicate bug reports as a voting mechanism.

  4. Christian said on March 7, 2008:

    Well, the iPhone/iPod can sync back to the Mac when it comes to iTunes (played songs, played podcasts, etc.). Isn't that XML in the end?

    Yeah… for iTunes. We're not going to shove golf statistics or course information into the iTunes database and hack it on both ends. I doubt it will even be possible on the iP* itself. I think you've misunderstood what I'm after…

    Daniel Tull said on March 7, 2008:

    …the way I'd look to do it would be using Bonjour to connect the apps together and send the data over the network.

    We couldn't guarantee that all of our customers will have a wifi network (and in the case of iPod Touches, that they'd have access to the cellular network either).

    All we're trying to do is move a few kilobytes of data. We shouldn't have to worry about the existence of a "network." People have a dock and iTunes already - moving a file across that is the KISS solution.

    Daniel Tull said on March 7, 2008:

    There's probably different ways to implement the communications between the apps, but the hardest part will always be the actual syncing of the data.

    We don't even need to synchronize. We need to send course and tee data from the computer to the iPhone. We need to get round information from the iPhone onto the computer. In both cases, it's one-way and over-writing the existing information is fine.

    Tim Buchheim said on March 7, 2008:

    I don't see any sync services yet. You should file a feature request bug report with Apple. This is obviously something they need. I imagine they're working on it already, but you know apple.. they use duplicate bug reports as a voting mechanism.

    Yeah, I'm not sure where to file such a feature request/bug just yet, but I plan to do so as soon as I figure that part out.

  5. I just filed a feature request detailing the apparent lack of sync services and the unacceptable workarounds I could think of off the top of my head - local networking via wifi, third-party server, or creating fake data in Address Book.

  6. It's a shame, the iPhone SDK is great for developing a whole slew of desktop app companions, taking your favorite apps along in your pocket. Unfortunately without any access to the iPhone's filesystem from the Mac this is very hard. For instance, I want people to take their 5GB PDF library along on their iPhone, it's crap that the only way to do this would be via wifi. And even if they do sync services in the final release it wouldn't be a good idea to pump 5Gb of PDFs in your sync services db. So let's all ask Apple to allow us to directly access either the Media section of the iPhone or your iPhone apps folder from your Mac...

  7. I too would probably do a portable version of my app. The clear answer is for them to support .mac sync but I haven't heard if that is the plan.

  8. Mike Zornek said on March 8, 2008:

    I too would probably do a portable version of my app. The clear answer is for them to support .mac sync but I haven't heard if that is the plan.

    I don't think .Mac sync is the answer at all. Not only do you limit yourselves (largely) to Mac users, but you also limit yourself to those with Wifi. iPod Touch users won't even have a cellular network to use, remember.

    Everyone with an iP* (if they want to ever sync again, that is) has the dock and iTunes. Apple should support files via that mechanism, not some 50-90% method.

  9. Erik J. Barzeski said on March 8, 2008:

    Everyone with an iP* (if they want to ever sync again, that is) has the dock and iTunes. Apple should support files via that mechanism, not some 50-90% method.

    Exactly! I filed a bugreporter entry with this request and I urge everybody to do the same..

  10. I've logged a radar entry as well - and like Alexander I encourage every registered iPhone developer to do the same.

    My thinking is something through Sync Services, I'm sure it could still be used to do a one way "sync" from the Phone app to the Desktop app.

  11. PatrickQG said on March 10, 2008:

    I've logged a radar entry as well - and like Alexander I encourage every registered iPhone developer to do the same.

    Ditto. Mine is #5789570.

  12. What's the URL to the radar website?

  13. Sorry for wasting the bandwidth. I think I found it at http://bugreport.apple.com/. Since this topic is relevant to my envisioned iPhone app, I'll submit a feature request when I get home this evening.

  14. This is may be totally unrelated, but are there any bluetooth hooks in the sdk?

    I think most people wanting to develop simple iPhone Apps want just this, a way to simply sync small info sets, such as grabbing the GPS info from a bluetooth enabled GPS device, to send to google maps, or syncing their Scorecard, or Notes, in some fashion, without resorting to email as the only gateway.

    If that (wifi or bluetooth sync) is closed off as possibly malicious or dangerous, there are going to be a lot fewer cool iPhone Apps out there.

    I think it is about time itunes itself had a serious detail and touch up.

  15. Bud, you've definitely got access to the networking side of things through CFNetwork in the Core Services layer.

  16. [...] (beta 5) version of the iPhone SDK was released, and in a move that surprises absolutely nobody, synchronizing (or even copying) with a desktop app is still not [...]

  17. Does the new firmware not support the AFC interface on the current firmware? Shouldn't it be possible to copy files into ~/Media using the same interface that iTunes uses to write there? It's not a jailbreak, but it seems like you should able to write into your app's sandbox via that route.

    Granted, I don't have a phone with the 2.0 firmware on it, so I'm just guessing... This is what I've been planning to use for Books, so hopefully it works.


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