Bidirectional photo sync with a 3rd party app?


I recently had to move from Android to iOS (not really my choice), and since then I am trying to sync my pictures and I do not get it to work. Yes pictures i take with the iPhone are uploaded in a folder that i specified, but if I take a photo from another device or edit them with software on my desktop they are not synced back onto the device (or are at least not visible in the photos app).
This seems like an issue with both Android and iOS clients, but on Android there are plenty of free apps to sync those files (e.g. FolderSync) and they show up in all the gallery apps that i tested, so it does not hurt as much on Android (where i used and still use FolderSync for years).
On iOS I did not find an app that could do that, at least the free ones I could try since paid apps are not possible on the work phone I was provided.

I am open for suggestions how to make that work with a 3rd party app (without paying!), but on the other hand I already wondered for years why there the native nextcloud app only offers upload for taken photos but no bidirectional sync, which would generally make more sense for consistency and especially when you have multiple devices or want to do some photo editing on a different device.

So i would like to bring this up as a feature request to add bidirectional sync to the mobile nextcloud clients.



But it will be uploaded / synched back to your Nextcloud, and you should then be able to access the new file or the modified version of the file with the nextcloud app on iOS.

It wouldn’t. Most users don’t want a full biderectional sync for all their files on their portable devices. Not even on laptops or stationary PCs. That’s why Virtual Drive for the desktop client was introduced. They want a client to access their files that are stored in the cloud, like they would have with Google Drive, M365, Dropbox, Apple iCloud and other similiar services. Nextcloud is not primarly a file synchronistation platfom. It’s a self-hosted cloud service. If you need full two way sync for most of your files Syncthing would probably be a better choice.

On the other hand Nextcloud is also a WebDAV storage platform. So any app that supports WebDAV as a storage backend for synchronistation should work. Unfortunatly i don’t use iOS myself and can’t give you any recommandations…

Hi @bb77, thanks for your reply.

Regarding accessing the files/modified versions with the nextcloud app, this does not work if the file type is not supported e.g. videos converted to h.264 encoded .mkv files (as I do to save space).
I opened another feature request for that: Media Type Support in IOS App
But even then this would render the iOS Photo app useless, which actually is pretty decent and more comfortable than the build-in nextcloud folder-views (especially the context menus for editing).

Regarding the bidirectional sync, I am not talking about ALL files, I agree that this is not what most users want. Maybe I should have made that clearer, sorry for the confusion.
I edited the first post slightly to make that a bit clearer, but don’t want to go overboard with editing the same post, so here are some more detailed thoughts on this:
I am talking about bidirectional sync just for the picture sync. If I take photos from different devices and upload them into a specific folder, I want to see them on all the devices and if I decide on one of those devices that a picture is no good and delete it, it should also be deleted on the other devices. That’s what I meant with it would generally make more sense from a logical use case, but also from a consistency point of view.
If you delete photos locally a bit after taking it (maybe because the picture was not taken sharp) you have to hope it did not get uploaded in the meantime, or else you have to go through pictures twice (locally and on nextcloud) to weed out the bad ones. If it would be bidirectional sync instead of pure upload the deletion would be synced as well.
That being said, I can see a use-case for people just uploading automatically and deleting locally for space (hopefully after making sure everything was uploaded correctly) and not going through the hassle of checking if unwanted pictures were synced. While i think that this approach just wastes space on the nextcloud and makes it more difficult to find the pictures you are actually looking for, I still think there should be a switch for upload/bidirectional in the settings to enable that use-case.

As usual, there are a wide variety of use cases. We also initially felt that a bi-directional sync would be useful, but after a bit more in-depth analysis, it turned out that the biggest limitation is the amount of storage available on our mobile devices at any given time. Therefore we decided to automatically upload all photos and videos from our various Android and iOS devices to our NC server, clean them up after the corresponding VFS sync on the notebook/desktop, freeing afterwards the local space, and delete all but a few selected photos/videos in the camera roll, except also the most recent shot, so that the sequential numbering of the file names doesn’t get messed up.

All of our media and document files are stored in one central location and accessible 7x24 from all kinds of devices that we own. This way we were also able to set up a centralized overall backup concept, so that nobody has to worry about it at individual level. Nevertheless, I can definitely see the need for an optional bidirectional synchronization procedure. My 2 cents.

I can only speak for Android. But this is actually solved in the same way as in the Google Fotos app. Every new photo will get uploaded immediately and you have to sort out bad pictures afterwards with the Google Photos app or in the browser.

The diffrence is of course, that the Google Photos app manages both, local and cloud media and is integrated seamlessly to the Android System. And the most important part: It’s a proper gallery app, which is something that Nextloud simply doesn’t have, neither in their WebUI, nor in their mobile apps.

So, I think Nextcloud should improve their apps, and implement a proper media gallery, or maybe even offer a sperate Photo upload and gallery app for mobile, instead of offering a two-way sync in order to work arround the short commings they have in this paricular area. :wink:

Yes. That’s exactley my point. For me, the point of a cloud service is to manage things in one place and not have them to sync back and forth.

Yep. But if the Nextcloud apps would do a better job regarding media mangaement, there would be far fewer cases where that would even be necessary. See my previous post :wink:

Totally agree with you. When it comes to music, photos, videos or movies, the feature set within NC is clear limited - fantastic good that there is something available to cover some basic needs, but very rudimentary I would say. And when it comes to really extensive libraries and collections, then the NC multimedia apps are unusable IMHO, which is somehow understandable, because NC does not and never did position itself as a mature media server solution. We decided to use a specialized application for that, emby.

I am not quite sure if i understand that correctly, Google Photos can manage pictures in Nextcloud? Or do you mean the Google Cloud? :slight_smile:
The iOS Photos app can only work with the iCloud unfortunately. So here I have to delete from local storage, then go into the Nextcloud app and delete there a 2nd time if i was not fast enough or did not put my phone on plane mode to stop unnessesary uploads.

I agree that Nextcloud does not have a “proper” media gallery in terms of edit functionality and so on, that would be another feature request, feel free to open one :stuck_out_tongue:
Then again afaik being a Gallery app would be cool, but is not sth. that Nextcloud in general was initially build for (at least not natively, only with plugins).
It was made for creating your own cloud and take back control over your data, so the core was to sync calendar/contacts/tasks and files. That is also why there already is a destop client with bidirectional sync (so the knowledge is there and maybe some code can be reused too) for years now, but the mobile app still lacks that feature, hence the request here :slight_smile:

No Google Photos can manage photos in Google Photos. :wink: What I was trying to say is that if Nextcloud would offer a similiar app with the same features, there would probably be no need for a two-way sync in most cases.

Allthough you can use the Nextloud app to browse your photos on your Nextcloud and delete bad pictures, it’s just not the same seamless expirience as it would be with Google Photos in combination with the Google services, meaning you have to delete the photes stored on your device speratley. I just delete all the photos on my phone manually from time to time. But you can also configure the auto-upload function in the Nextcloud app to delete the photos immediately after they’ve been uploaded. In both cases, however, you need to think of Nextcloud, respective the Nextcloud app as the only place to manage the photos, after they got uploaded.