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No iPhone background photo upload

No iPhone background photo upload

darh
Helpful | Level 6

I am struggling to find up-to-date information on whether or not Dropbox will actually upload photos from the iPhone when the app is in the background. For me it does not.

Old posts imply that Dropbox uses location services to allow the app to run in the background. However Dropbox does not appear in the location services settings (a big no-no if it's actually using location services). Nor is it listed as using location services under Settings -> Privacy -> Files and Folders. I've tried turning off and back on the Background App Refresh, along with iPhone restarts, no change.

Pertinent details: Dropbox set to all photos, background app refresh is on, cellular data is on. Dropbox is added to the Files app. iPhone 12 Pro, iOS 15.2.1. Latest Dropbox app. iCloud photos are turned off. The Dropbox app under iCloud settings is turned off. Dropbox plan is Plus.

 

 

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

jboulter
Dropboxer

Hey darh,

 

I'm really sorry you have been getting conflicting information.  I'm an engineer who works on the iOS Camera Uploads feature and I am going to do my best to explain why this seems broken and give you a complete and correct picture of how the feature works.  🙂

 

Firstly, we do support background uploading of images using our Camera Uploads feature.  In fact, most uploads happen in the background.  Millions of images are uploaded this way every month using the Dropbox iOS app.  However, it works very differently than most users expect.  This is where the "the limitation is because of Apple" part comes in.

 

On iOS, there is no way for an application (besides Apple's applications) to stay running indefinitely in the background.  We can only request time and wait for it to be granted by iOS.  Usually we get it for somewhere between 30 seconds to 4 minutes at a time depending on a whole bunch of variables like whether you're actively using the device or whether it is charging.  We also do not get notified directly about new images being taken with the camera.  We simply have to wait until iOS gives us time in the background to check.

 

We no longer use location services to get background time, as we agree with you that it was not a good way of doing things and iOS has given us Background App Refresh, described above, to get background time properly.  This new way of getting background time did not exist back when the original Camera Uploads feature was designed.  Back then, many applications used location services to get reliable background time, even if they didn't need location information.

 

So you're probably seeing behavior from the app that looks like it's not uploading in the background because you launch the Dropbox app and watch it upload your latest images.  However, I can tell you from what I see we are getting some background time on your device and appear to be properly uploading photos when new ones are available.  This background behavior is very sporadic and much of it is likely to happen when you're not using your device.  This way, it doesn't drain your battery or slow down your phone when you are using it.  If you need something synced right away, the only way to be sure it happens is to launch the Dropbox app directly.

 

I understand this is not ideal, but it is the best we can do with the limitations of the iOS operating system.  I'm sorry you have had so much trouble getting proper information on this behavior.  I hope I've clarified things for you.

 

I'm working with our support staff to clarify how this works so that users like yourself get the correct information the first time they ask.  If you have further questions, please let me know!

 

Jim

Software Engineer @ Dropbox

View solution in original post

17 Replies 17

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

Jay
Dropboxer
Hi @darh, thanks for bringing this to our attention.
 
Camera uploads on iOS devices no longer uses location services to keep the Dropbox app active in the background. 
 
Have you tried disabling camera uploads and re-enabling it to see if this helps?
 
This will help me to assist further!

Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Re: No iPhone background photo upload

darh
Helpful | Level 6

Yes, I have disabled and re-enabled the camera uploads several times, with and without a phone restart in between, to no avail.

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

Megan
Dropboxer
Hey @darh, sorry to jump in here! 

I loved all the details you provided us with.

Can you try clearing your cache like so? 

- Navigate to the “Account” tab.
- Tap the gear icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen.
-Select "Clear Cache."

Then, please uninstall and re-install the app and, under features, tap on Camera Uploads and toggle on All Photos and Improve Background Uploading.

Megan
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Re: No iPhone background photo upload

darh
Helpful | Level 6

Done per your suggestions, except there is no "Improve Background Uploading" in my iPhone version of the app, 262.3.2.

I then switched out of the app, took a picture, and waited a bit. No upload, but then an instantaneous upload when I switched back to the app.

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

Megan
Dropboxer
I see, thanks for trying that @darh.

Since you're part of the Plus plan, can you try contacting our support team about this? 

You'll receive a ticket number (e.g., #1234567), which you can let me know here.
 
Let me know how it goes!

Megan
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Re: No iPhone background photo upload

darh
Helpful | Level 6

Ticket 15660997 

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

Megan
Dropboxer
I checked, and it seems a member of our Support team has already contacted you, @darh.

If you have any other questions, you know where to find us.

Megan
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Re: No iPhone background photo upload

darh
Helpful | Level 6

The answer, from Dropbox support, is that no, this does not work. To quote:

 

"I'm afraid that on an Apple device, background uploading is unfortunately not supported. Please note that this is due to a limitation from Apple's side.
I would suggest leaving the app open in the foreground for Camera Uploads to work as it should. "

 

Then why, dear Dropbox, do you continue to have the "Background App Refresh" option still built into the app, if you don't support it?

Re: No iPhone background photo upload

jboulter
Dropboxer

Hey darh,

 

I'm really sorry you have been getting conflicting information.  I'm an engineer who works on the iOS Camera Uploads feature and I am going to do my best to explain why this seems broken and give you a complete and correct picture of how the feature works.  🙂

 

Firstly, we do support background uploading of images using our Camera Uploads feature.  In fact, most uploads happen in the background.  Millions of images are uploaded this way every month using the Dropbox iOS app.  However, it works very differently than most users expect.  This is where the "the limitation is because of Apple" part comes in.

 

On iOS, there is no way for an application (besides Apple's applications) to stay running indefinitely in the background.  We can only request time and wait for it to be granted by iOS.  Usually we get it for somewhere between 30 seconds to 4 minutes at a time depending on a whole bunch of variables like whether you're actively using the device or whether it is charging.  We also do not get notified directly about new images being taken with the camera.  We simply have to wait until iOS gives us time in the background to check.

 

We no longer use location services to get background time, as we agree with you that it was not a good way of doing things and iOS has given us Background App Refresh, described above, to get background time properly.  This new way of getting background time did not exist back when the original Camera Uploads feature was designed.  Back then, many applications used location services to get reliable background time, even if they didn't need location information.

 

So you're probably seeing behavior from the app that looks like it's not uploading in the background because you launch the Dropbox app and watch it upload your latest images.  However, I can tell you from what I see we are getting some background time on your device and appear to be properly uploading photos when new ones are available.  This background behavior is very sporadic and much of it is likely to happen when you're not using your device.  This way, it doesn't drain your battery or slow down your phone when you are using it.  If you need something synced right away, the only way to be sure it happens is to launch the Dropbox app directly.

 

I understand this is not ideal, but it is the best we can do with the limitations of the iOS operating system.  I'm sorry you have had so much trouble getting proper information on this behavior.  I hope I've clarified things for you.

 

I'm working with our support staff to clarify how this works so that users like yourself get the correct information the first time they ask.  If you have further questions, please let me know!

 

Jim

Software Engineer @ Dropbox

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