Apple Joins Data Transfer Project to Enable Seamless Data Transfer Across Platforms

Posted on July 31, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple with 9 Comments

Last year, a couple of tech giants launched a new project called the Data Transfer Project (DTP). It’s a new project that’s meant to make data sharing between different platforms and services seamless for the user.

And now, another big name is joining the project: Apple.

The people behind DTP announced that Apple is now joining the Data Transfer Project, which means Apple’s services will allow for seamless data transfer. And as a result, if you are moving from iCloud to Google Drive, for example, you would theoretically be able to bring the photos on your iCloud to Google Photos. At least that’s the plan, for now.

Most of the work done by the DTP is to do with the back-end for now, so there isn’t any “frontend” to actually use most of the features just yet. The project has made quite a lot of progress since it’s launch, though:

  • Apple has officially joined the Project.
  • 18 contributors from a combination of partners and the open source community have inserted more than 42,000 lines of code and changed more than 1,500 files.
  • We’ve added framework features such as Cloud logging and monitoring to enable production use of the Data Transfer Project at companies developing new features.
  • We also updated integrations for new APIs from Google Photos and Smugmug that will enable users to move their photos between these services.
  • We have added new integrations for Deezer, Mastodon, and Solid.

Whether DTP will be something companies actually embrace remains to be seen. Still, the idea of data interoperability between all the world’s popular service might just be a dream come true with DTP.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Apple Joins Data Transfer Project to Enable Seamless Data Transfer Across Platforms”

  1. skane2600

    If data is created using industry standard formats shouldn't this be automatic? Does Google or other providers actually store photos in a proprietary format?

    • lvthunder

      In reply to skane2600:

      This is more about making it easy to move data from one spot to another.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to skane2600:

      The project has a good description of use cases here:

      High level, the idea is that you should be able to move data from one service to another with minimal friction. As an example, currently if you have a bunch of photos in iCloud and would like to copy or move them to Google Photos, you most likely are going to have to download them all to local storage on a computer or phone and then re-upload them to the new service. The goal of this project is that the user should be able to initiate a transfer request on the new service, authenticate on the old service and grant permission for access, and then the entire transfer will happen server to server.

      Obviously, this kind of thing already exists on a lot of services, but this project would help to standardize the process. More importantly, these types of migration tools are currently often based either on reverse-engineering a non-public API or using a public API in a way other than intended. That results in low reliability and high potential for the process to simply break at some point.

      Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that the big companies have signed on to this. Apple, in particular, doesn't have a history of encouraging data portability.

    • bill_russell

      In reply to skane2600:

      If you download files from google photos they are just jpeg's, I believe, in a zip folder. So from that perspective its "trival". However I belive the idea is to import/export service to service without intermediate download.

      I'd suspect each company is more interested in importing than exporting, particuarly apple. They are typically not interested in interoperability, unless absolutely necessary for their benefit. I.e itunes and apple music.

  2. BigM72

    Is this for any kind of data?

    It would be fantastic for whatsapp backups to be transferable, that's a big hold-up right now in going from ios to android or vice versa.

  3. solomonrex

    Perhaps someday I will even be able to download my own photos to my own PC.

  4. randallcorn

    I see Apple as allowing you to bring data to Apple. Not the other way around.

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