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Can a Android app sync data with a desktop application?

 
Keith Flo
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Can I have the Android app that write sync data with a desktop application that I create? The answer to this is a key element in deciding whether to do Android (which I prefer) or iPhone development.

Most of our users have windows desktops. We'd like to write a windows app that retrieves data from an Android app that we will create when our users sync their phones. Is this allowed? Or is the only way through a web service? Basically sending/retrieving the data from a web site we create?
 
Lester Burnham
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Fundamentally, syncing is possible - for example, "The Missing Sync for Android" is a decent sync application (which requires apps on both the device and the desktop machine), but syncing needs to be started on the device, not the desktop. I'm not sure if that's a principal limitation, or just an idiosyncrasy of this particular application.

Your Android app can also hook into the system-wide syncing mechanism, so that the syncing gets started automatically whenever the other accounts (chiefly the Google account) are synced. http://www.c99.org/2010/01/23/writing-an-android-sync-provider-part-1/ and http://www.c99.org/2010/01/23/writing-an-android-sync-provider-part-2/ explain how that is done.
 
Keith Flo
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Lester,

Thanks!!! This is just what I needed!

As I explained in another post ... Our issue is what approach and features our dev team wants to implement versus what our customer wants. Our customer wants a more traditional scenario where a user comes back to his/her desk, syncs the device and then we've get the data they've collected on their phone in our app. As devs we prefer (I should say I prefer) a more 'web services' style approach. Our customer is enraptured with the iPhone ... which is a malady which is not unique. Personally, I'd rather do the whole thing in Android ... but that's a battle I'm not likely to win. However, the ability to sync with our desktop app ... if they really feel they need that feature and is probably not possible in the iPhone ... may be a key decision point.
 
Lester Burnham
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Another kind of "syncing" that's possible in Android is -if you have the device connected to the desktop via a USB cable- its SD card can be mounted as a regular read/write drive. That way, it's trivial to get data on and off the device, and the Android app could later pick up and process the data any way it wants.
This depends on your customers willingness (and ability) to connect USB cables, and having them choose the correct USB mounting type in a menu, though.
 
Tim Holloway
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Lester Burnham wrote:Another kind of "syncing" that's possible in Android is -if you have the device connected to the desktop via a USB cable- its SD card can be mounted as a regular read/write drive. That way, it's trivial to get data on and off the device, and the Android app could later pick up and process the data any way it wants.
This depends on your customers willingness (and ability) to connect USB cables, and having them choose the correct USB mounting type in a menu, though.


Depends. On my HTC Hero, plugging in the USB adds toolbar options on the phone (for sync and for mounting) and pops up the desktop's tooltray sync. After which everything gets confused and I rarely get any sync at all. In fairness, it's probably because my Android IDE is getting jammed in the middle of the process, but when you have modal dialogs that pop under their parents, it does not bode well. I'm afraid that the HTC sync app isn't very well-implemented.

Some people prefer a viral approach, where simply walking into the same room as the desktop initiates a Blutetooth sync, but I think Microsoft tried that and gave up, and Google is still missing critical parts of the Bluetooth stack anyway. I'm OK with the USB, since I usually jack in when I sit down to work just to keep the battery charged.

In general, I wouldn't expect users to want to manually drag and drop files. Besides, that's not true sync, since it doesn't merge the phone with the desktop - it's an outright replacement.
 
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