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On my iPhone, I sync my camera photos with Dropbox, so that after I do a photo shoot all the photos are automatically uploaded to my laptop in the Dropbox 'Camera Uploads' folder - ready to sort, edit and delete as necessary.

I now need to be able to do two-way syncing with the iPhone, so that when I delete (or even modify) a photo on the computer, it's also deleted (or modified) from the iPhone's camera photos folder accordingly; this way I'm not left with dozens of 'dud' photos that I no longer want on my iPhone, despite having already deleting them on the laptop.

The official Dropbox mobile client doesn't allow two-way syncing, so until they introduce such a feature, this can only be possible via a third-party dropbox API-using client.

On Android, I could do this with Dropsync, with many features and full sync customization. Is there an equivalent Dropbox solution for this on iOS?

(I am aware of the idea that iCloud may do two-way syncing built-in, (though am not sure), but I'd like to be able to share the Camera Uploads folder with family members on Windows computers (and even linux), and so find Dropbox a much more multi-platform-friendly service to use for the syncing and collaborating, instead of the iCloud ecosystem.)

  • Have you tried using both iCloud and dropbox together? Maybe hard linking the folders... If you want 2 way sync for editing photos on your computer, iCloud will do it. Then you want the same pictures to be automatically shared, dropbox magic. – cregox Jan 1 '14 at 0:44
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    @Cawas I have tried to do this but iCloud is not syncing photo deletions BACK to the iPhone from the PC. I have asked about it as a follow-up question, here: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/115767/… – user46942 Jan 2 '14 at 4:52
  • Thanks for the follow up. Damn, some times apple suck hard and beyond comprehension! So, the final answer right now is: it can't be done. Get an android. One of many reasons I dropped iPhone. – cregox Jan 10 '14 at 13:09
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Unfortunately, I'm almost certain there's no equivalent Dropbox solution for this currently on iOS.

While I cannot give you a technical reason why two-way syncing on iOS is not possible, I can say that at a high level, the iOS platform is more guarded in terms of allowing developers to access certain capabilities of the device.

As you stated in your question, Android devices are capable of two-way synchronization through apps like Dropsync; this is because of the relatively more open-ended nature of the Android platform for both developers and users. To read more on why this is the case, read the 'Android Offers an Open Platform' section of this article.

To confirm, I contacted two customer representatives of two data-sync companies: Loom and SugarSync. I asked both reps the following question:

Is possible for two-way synchronization of files between an iOS device and a computer? For example, if I sync pix from my iPhone to my iMac, and then edit/delete the pix on my computer, will the changes be reflected automatically on my iPhone?

Both times, the answer was:

No, this is not possible due to the closed nature of the iOS platform.

If this capability is very important for your work, I would suggest migrating back to an Android device.

If you want/need to use your iPhone for this, and if you need a platform-independent solution (i.e., you don't want to use iCloud), I'm afraid tedium is in your future. I would suggest that you keep a list of the photos as you edit/delete them on you computer, so that you know which photos have been updated and need to be manually re-download from Dropbox (or manually deleted) on your iPhone when you use it next.

  • I am impressed at that answer, thank you VERY much. I think what I'll do now is, investigate whether iCloud itself can do it (I'm sure it can, though I'm hoping to do the main syncing to a Windows computer), then chain together THAT (folder) with Dropbox. Dropbox can do two-way syncing (on e.g. Windows), and if iCloud can between the iPhone and a (windows) computer (maybe I can find some third-party Windows client to sync with the iCloud account if need be), then boom I can connect the two together and still achieve what I want to achieve. Heh. Boom. – user46942 Dec 31 '13 at 0:58
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If you're willing to jailbreak, you can use iFile to two-way sync a folder in /var/mobile with a folder in Dropbox. It can't do background two-way sync, but you can do it manually.

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    If OP is willing to jailbreak, I think this is the best approach given his needs. I noticed you edited your answer to remove Backgrounder; does Backgrounder not work with iFile? – bunting Dec 30 '13 at 21:46
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    @bunting Backgrounder's development was stopped and it doesn't work in iOS 6+ so it's pretty useless now :( Still works on my trusty iPod touch 2nd-gen (stuck on iOS 4.2.1) but not with any recent hardware. – grg Dec 30 '13 at 21:49
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I know Documents by Readle supports two-way sync with Dropbox and other cloud services on iOS. I use it all the time sync books from my computer and iOS devices.

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