earlybird software, llc


June 11, 2011 3:02PM[link]

I've gotten a few comments and requests for a sync feature in the Baby Timer app. It's definitely something I would like to do, and I have been exploring various strategies for adding the feature. There are a few ways I could add synchronization:

Direct sync between devices

This would likely involve using bluetooth to have the devices communicate directly with each other. (Similar to how some multiplayer games work.) The advantage is that there are no cloud accounts to set up, manage, back up, secure, etc. The downside is that the devices have to be in physical proximity to each other to sync.

Devices sync with a web site

I could set up a web site myself and have the devices sync with it. The advantage here is that you could also (maybe) view or enter data from a computer. The downside is that you'd have to create an account on my server, trust your data to my server, and I'd have to run and backup the server. This (might) also allow me to have iOS and Android devices sync with each other. (And possibly any future platforms I create the app for: Windows Phone, Web OS, etc.)

Devices sync with a cloud storage provider

The app could store some or all of its data in a third-party service (Dropbox, or maybe Apple's new iCloud). This would allow the devices to stay in sync while they're not in physical proximity, and would not require me to run a server myself. For that reason, this looks like an appealing option to me right now.

What next?

I'm currently leaning toward using something like iCloud (or possibly Dropbox) to sync data betweeen the devices. But it would be very useful to hear from users of the app: how would you use a syncronization feature? How many devices would you like to sync between, and how frequently would you like to sync them up? Would you find a web interface useful, and would you mind having to create an account to use it and store your data on my server? Would you prefer direct (bluetooth) synchronization between devices so there are no cloud/network parts involved? Please leave a comment below or send me an email, I would love to hear people's opinions as I plan this feature.

What to do in the meantime?

I'll be studying iCloud over the coming weeks to see if it will meet Baby Timer's needs or if something else would be better, and planning when to add this feature. In the meantime, you can use the Wi-Fi export and import feature to move a database from one device to another, or to merge two databases together. (That linked post below is about the Milk Maid app, but the same procedure works with Baby Timer as well. The export button is on the stats tab in Baby Timer.) So if you're just syncing up infrequently or want to migrate from one device to another, this should work nicely.


Guillermo Sierra on June 27, 2011 5:30PM

Hi... I came to your website to make the suggestion of the cloud sync and I was glad to see that you are already wotking on it. The service could be great! Maybe you can set it up as a Premium service for a small additional fee. Dropbox could be interesting. You asked for some examples of how we would use it. My wife and I would use it in 4 devices. 2 iPads and 2 iPhones. That way homever is with our baby, either at home (ipad) or outside (iphone) we could keep a central record. It also wll allow the one who is not with the baby at the time to keep an eye on the daily activity of the baby remotely without having to bore your spouse with questions like "Did she poop?" ;-)

Actually, now that I am thinking about it. Maybe you even want to sell a desktop version so that working moms can keep an eye from their offices. How about an institutional version so that day-care centers can use it and keep parents informed that way?

Congratulations! You have a great product we really like it! And thank you so much for giving us the contractions counter for free. That is how we found your app and we even bought it while still at the hospital!

Thanks Guillermo, this is very helpful. Thanks for using the apps and best wishes! -Mike

J. van Hoorn on July 26, 2011 1:46AM

Hi, I came here to suggest synchronization for milkmaid. I see you are already working on it for BabyTimer. When you created synchronization for BabyTimer, will this also be added to MilkMaid? Keep up the good work! :)

Thanks for the suggestion. I hadn't intended to add it to Milk Maid, but I could look at it if enough people would find it useful. (I could probably share some of the work with Baby Timer.) Do you have two separate devices (maybe an iPhone and an iPad) that you use regularly and want to keep in sync? Or would you use this as a way to more easily migrate from one device to another? -Mike

J. van Hoorn on August 4, 2011 1:47PM

Hi, I have two devices. My wife uses an iPhone at work, where she is pumping the milk, and I use our iPad when i'm feeding our baby at home. Currently we use only the iPad, because manually syncing is to much overhead for the 3/4 pumping sessions my wife does at work daily, but an automatic sync would be a perfect fit for this.

Ok, thanks for the info, that's helpful to know! -Mike

Kelly on August 9, 2011 6:39PM

We have 2 iPhones and 2 iPads, would be great to just pick up any (depending where we are) to enter data or read data. I'm not sure how it does it but we use grocery gadget app and it syncs between all our devices in real time ., something like that would be great! Thanks!

Thanks Kelly. It looks like the Grocery Gadget folks are running their own server. I'm hoping that something like iCloud or Dropbox will allow me to do the same thing. Thanks for the input! (It would be handy to get updates as they happen across devices.) Thanks! -Mike

Cino on October 23, 2011 12:40PM

Background: I've got 7 months left to fatherhood, so I don't know for sure what I'll need yet. This is just what I think I'm looking for. In my mind, must haves for the baby timer: Syncing between 2 iPhones Syncing is automatic, we don't have to think about it, and all info is always on both phones And convenient options if possible: can add other temporary devices if we want (babysitter) or permanent devices (grandmother) Can e-mail or print out baby specs I use dropbox already, but it also wouldn't offend me to do it through a website. As long as it'll sync everything later even if data is entered when in airplane mode or something, I'll be happy.

Thanks for the feedback, this is helpful. I'd like to make it as simple and automatic as possible (and work, though delayed, when you're in airplane mode or off the network for any reason.) Thanks! -Mike

Maria on November 22, 2011 9:02AM

Hi Mike, My husband and I are expecting our first baby in a couple of months. A friend suggested I purchase the Itzbeen baby timer. However, after some reading, it looks like we can't really store information in History. I came across Baby Timer and it looks like almost the perfect app for us. I'm really impressed with all the features you've included already. As others have posted, my concern is the real time sync feature (iPhone, iPad, Android). My husband and I are currently using the Cozi Family Organizer which syncs data between all three of our devices. I know we will be using Baby Timer, but it would make it easier if we could each enter our data from our own phones and have them sync in real time, especially when we aren't together. I also like Cino's idea of adding temporary and permanent devices. That would be helpful as well. Keep up the good work! Looking forward to seeing a new update. :)

Thanks for the feedback and congratulations on the soon-to-be baby! These are great ideas, it's very helpful. -Mike

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