Using DropBox For Online Data Backup & Synching

Matthew Campbell, November 30th

A vexing problem that the iOS SDK does not really help us is how to give users access to the data that is stored in their apps.  This is so important because users want to be able to take control of the content they create with our apps.  Perhaps because of the closed sand-boxed nature of iOS we cannot easily do this.

There are three main reasons that users want this (believe me I can give you a hundred emails asking for this capability).

Even though iTunes provides a backup it is not transparent enough to be helpful for most users.  It is way to easy to overwrite data when you remove an app.  Most users don’t even know this function exists or how to restore their app data.

Users want to be able to make sure their data is “safe” and that they can get it back if the worse happens.

Some users want to be able to share their content.  They put the work in to generate their content so naturally they have a right to use this content any way that they see fit.  Simply storing their data in the app’s documents directory will not allow them to do this (at least not without intervention from us).

These days people have apps running on multiple devices: iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Macs & PCs.  People may also want to start using a completely different app or an upgraded version of a current app.  Without freeing the user’s data there is no way for them to do any of this without starting over (which means they will ditch your app or just not do it at all).


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