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Seamlessly Sync Photos Between Android and PC

Seamlessly Sync Photos Between Android and PC

How come the Last Mile in photography has turned what should be a pleasant and wondrous exploration of one's artistic pursuits into a nightmarish experience? It doesn't have to be that way. Mobile apps like Dropbox and SugarSync take advantage of cloud storage to let you access, edit and share your collections among different devices -- and people -- without having to jump through a lot of hoops.

By Patrick Nelson
02/28/13 5:00 AM PT

The Last Mile has been the challenge of industries immemorial.

What, you say?

Well, humor me, and I'll tell you. "Last Mile" -- usually -- refers to the last part of a network, the bit that delivers communications directly into a home. It's often the hardest and most expensive part, subject to neighborhood meddlers' concerns over requisite miscellaneous boxes dotting front yards, messy street digs instead of beaming microwaves, and fume-belching, eco-unfriendly equipment delivery trucks.

Telephone and cable providers, which often drop packages into the postal stream for home delivery, as well as shippers like UPS, have all had to deal with the Last Mile. It's the scourge of many industries.

Well, I'd like to draw an analogy with digital photography. Here's my point: Why is it usually such a cumbersome, laborious process to get images out of a device and onto a computer, where they can be admired and edited?

It typically involves swapping different-sized SD cards, adapters and USB cables -- and I don't even want to mention drivers, let alone cross-platform drivers.

There is a nifty solution: using cloud storage apps for the Android OS. Here's how to go about it.

Step 1: Get Your App

Install a free cloud-storage app with photo-upload functions onto your smartphone by performing a search for either Dropbox or SugarSync in the Google Play store.

Both of these cloud providers have seamless photo upload functions. There may be others too, but I've thoroughly tested these providers' apps for this purpose, and I can recommend them.

Tip: Ensure that you have some form of wireless connectivity on the smartphone -- either WiFi or cellular network.

Step 2: Create an Account

Allow the app to download onto the device and then open the app. Complete the sign-up process, which involves entering an email address and creating a password. Both apps provide some free storage, which will be enough for some experimentation.

Tip: Check your in-box for an account verification email on signup.

Step 3: Set to Sync

Navigate to the settings menu within the app on the smartphone. SugarSync uses a cogwheel-like icon and Dropbox uses a textual drop-down menu item.

Choose Turn on Camera Upload in Dropbox or Autosync Photos in SugarSync.

Tip: Ignore the Photo Optimization option in SugarSync. It has reported issues on some devices.

Step 4: Log In

Browse to the Dropbox or SugarSync websites on the computer where you'd like to view your images seamlessly. Enter any login information if prompted to do so. Use the same login as you did creating the account.

Tip: Ignore any prompts to download the respective PC applications for now. Ensure that you have some form of wireless connectivity active on the PC -- either WiFi or cellular network.

Step 5: Snap a Pic

Capture a test image on the smartphone by taking a photograph as you'd usually do.

Wait a moment for a seamless upload to take place, and go back to your PC. Browse to the Photos tab within the SugarSync home page on the PC, or the Camera Uploads tab within Dropbox's home page on the PC.

You'll see the image within the folder on the PC.

Leave these settings as they are, and and in the future, every time you take a picture on your smartphone, it will upload when connected to a network.

Then browse to the respective cloud provider's home page, log in, and the images will be available on the PC.

Tip: The uploading of images from a smartphone uses data allowances set by your Internet Service Provider. This is usually not an issue using WiFi at home. However, it can be costly when roaming internationally.

Step 6: See What You Can Do

Play with the camera upload sharing settings from within the PC-based Web page. For example, right-click on Camera Uploads in Dropbox to invite others to the folder.

Setting up Dropbox on a family member's computer allows you to instantaneously and seamlessly share vacation pictures -- before you get back.

And that's the Last Mile.

Want to Ask a Tech Question?

Is there a piece of tech you'd like to know how to operate properly? Is there a gadget that's got you confounded? Please send your tech questions to me, and I'll try to answer as many as possible in this column.

And use the Talkback feature below to add your comments!


Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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