iPad Air airplane game app

Games are fun. Judging by both the paid-for and free app charts in the App Store, they’re also extremely popular. A look at the top-grossing apps on the iPad shows that 9 of the top 10 (in the UK store) are games. The odd one out is a newspaper, oddly enough. If you look outside the top 10 list, the trend continues throughout the chart.

With gaming clearly so popular on the iPad, and indeed the iPhone, developers are rightly beginning to throw considerable resources at creating some truly impressive iOS games. The likes of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Oceanhorn are effectively console or handheld games that run on a smartphone or tablet. Both are a far cry from the games we used to play on our mobile devices. Does anyone remember Snake on the Nokia phones of old? Ahh, fond memories indeed.

For all the increased attention that game development on iOS has received over the last couple of years, and with both big names and smaller independent developers bringing some excellent titles to the platform, there is still something lacking. We’re being treated to games that look absolutely stunning on the latest hardware and voice acting as well as story building have both improved dramatically of late, but there’s one issue remaining. One that’s become all too apparent to me as I’ve started playing games on an iPad mini (with Retina display, of course) as well as my iPhone. That issue is syncing.

The syncing of game progress, to be precise…

Simply, there’s not enough of it. Off the top of my head I can think of three, maybe four games that support iCloud saved game syncing. I’ve no doubt there are more, so no need to email me, but the point still stands – when I’m sat looking at an iPad with games that take tens of hours to finish, the ability to have consistent saved game stats across multiple devices is a God-send that seems to be sorely ignored.

Games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Republique both have the right idea, but something like Oceanhorn that lends itself to extended gameplay and progress that you really don’t want to lose simply ignores Apple’s iCloud solution. Even if you don’t want to play across multiple devices, the extra security of knowing your saved game is in the cloud, safe and sound, is always welcome.

The developers appear to have misgivings about Apple’s iCloud solution in general, with its ability to handle saved games coming in for particular scrutiny. We’ve heard from gamers who have had iCloud do weird and not-so-wonderful things to their gaming progress, which is possibly why iCloud is shunned by many developers. With that in mind though, is there another solution?

Turns out, there is.

Dropbox-logo

Dropbox, the company that is widely acknowledged to be the top dog in syncing has its own hat in the game syncing ring. Dropbox Datastore can do much thing as iCloud, but with some exceptions that we won’t get into here. What it can most definitely do though is play host to saved games, and developers have said before that the Dropbox API is a dream to work with. So, why not use Dropbox as a game syncing solution?

That’s a question nobody but the developers themselves can answer. The old argument of not wanting to fill gamers’ Dropbox locations with files is irrelevant thanks to Datastore, which keeps everything out of the customer-facing Dropbox we all know and love. It’s transparent as far as the gamer is concerned, and it really can’t be any worse than iCloud regardless.

I simply refuse to believe that I’m the only one who launches a new game in the hope that it will let me take my game progress with me to another device, only to be disappointed. The sooner developers realize that having iPad and iPhone versions of their games that don’t talk to each other is just plain silly, the better off we’ll all be.

And that includes those developers, too.

If you’re a game developer with some insights into the ins and outs of syncing, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

  • Question

    This is off topic but how do i get rid of this? I know you respring and it goes away but when i download an app again it comes back

    • al7oot

      Hard reset

    • Sin

      I had a few apps do that, too. I think I ran icleaner to fix it. I also had issues trying to install appcake so I deleted iphone cake repo before I ran icleaner so I’m not sure if that contributed to the fix or not. Hope that helps.

      • MachOSX

        Piracy ha?

      • Sin

        A) It’s not piracy if you buy the apps you keep. B) I’ve never heard of anyone getting a refund after purchasing a lousy app. C) Virtually every time I buy an app without testing it out first it turns out to be a disappointment so why wouldn’t I “pirate” an app or tweak to ensure I’m getting my money’s worth?

      • Ricky

        Actually you can refund anything you purchased on itunes store even if its a lousy app. Years ago i think IDB had post on a way to refund

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        It’s a pain though and probably takes longer than a few hours. I personally don’t condone piracy but have no problems trying before buying…

      • Ricky

        Just a few click and typing, 30min and youre done. Theres no need to use pirate software to try them out

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Wait are refunds automated or reviewed by someone (i.e a real person)

      • Sin

        I never buy through iTunes. I only use the App Store as far as purchased from Apple go. To be honest I hate iTunes. It pissed me off that I have to connect to it to add music to my iphone.

      • Ricky

        I mean itunes store, appstore and every other digital store owned by apple

      • Sin

        Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know that.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        You should check out the jailbreak tweak / app Bridge which allows you to import music. It is now compatible with iOS 7…

      • Jonathan

        How?

    • Isandro

      i had on ios 6 free some memory delete app

  • Core

    Jailbreakers have an app called DataDeposit which lets you backup app dara to Dropbox, Box, Copy etc and then you can sync it back. Works great for if you want to switch device or restore your device ir if you want to delete an app for space bit not lose the save state.

    • e1ghtSpace

      data* or* but* :

      • Sandy Cook

        How sad

      • smtp25

        Huh?

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        I think he was talking about the grammarnazism (new word?) showed by the other person…

  • Aadish

    Which game’s image is it shared by Oliver?

    • Ali Sajjad

      Metalstorm

      • Aadish

        Thanks a ton! 🙂

  • Ben

    Makes sense.

  • Would love this feature as well!!!! I love playing Oceanhorn and would love to sync it with my iPhone.

  • Actually, Game Center can be used to store small amount of data, but it cannot be accessed by different apps.
    Dropbox is GFWed in China.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Are you saying this is the fault of Apple then for not having a good API?

      • No, Apple’s got great API as long as you do what you’re supposed to do.
        If you don’t need to port your app to other platforms, it’s very simple to store data using plist or CoreData, and sync with iCloud. Everything like conflict solving, latency, poor connection, is already considered, which is way ahead of other storage options.

  • Courtney Macfarlane

    Does anyone know how I can sort out my Cydia taking ages to reload ect – also I don’t think my changes are actually changing, the last one on the list is “Car Zeppelin Add On” from about 15 hours ago.

    I have a 5S if that helps, sorry guys. I’m a little nooby 🙂
    I deleted the repo667.ultrasn0w because I saw someone say to do that.. Have I screwed it up even more?

    Most of my tweaks installed come up with this message too. Grrrr

    • Capirexz

      Same here.

    • MachOSX

      Everyone with a 5s gets the same message… The tweaks haven’t been updated for 64-bit yet so you’ll have to wait for an update…

    • Brian Allan Gillis

      A lot of the tweaks you are downloading may not even be updated for ios 7, seeing as preference pane is essentially the core of personalizing most of your jailbreak apps/ tweaks. as MachOSX also said, they also may not be updated for ARM64 either. just wait it out until the update comes out. Best of luck!

      • Courtney Macfarlane

        Thanks guys! But does anyone know why my changes arent changing? I’ve read loads of comments saying things have been updated ect but I can’t see any of them!

        Did I make a stupid mistake of deleting repo666.ultrasn0w?

      • Brian Allan Gillis

        Not at all. there was nothing on the repo except some old outdated unlock tools. you could manually fetch the packages, from cydia change page hit refresh in the upper left corner. If that doesn’t work, look into deleting the cache from cydia and reboot.

      • Courtney Macfarlane

        Cheers Brian! I just realized it hasn’t work since I used iCleaner which got rid of around 1GB of shit! Haha

  • Capirexz

    Agreed

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    My guess is companies like Rovio want syncing to work across non-apple devices. If iCloud stays locked down we can expect this trend to continue in my opinion…

    • mrbofus

      That would be fine if it was implemented properly and remained free. But Rovio hasn’t implemented it well (see my post above).

    • John Sklikas

      Dropbox Datastore? This would work.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        I don think this is a valid solution since AFAIK Dropbox just downloads the file each time it synchs. Or is this app clever enough to download the changes only e.g I have some game save files and one of them changes by one byte is it clever enough to only download that one byte that has changed or does it download the entire file? As far as I know iCloud considers this scenario…

      • John Sklikas

        I am pretty sure that Dropbox actually knows the difference. I’ve noticed, because I use it a lot. I had documents that were 20 MB large. The first upload took some time, but every subsequent save, didn’t, it always took less than half a second. If, say, in a document of 8000 words, I changed one, the upload time was unnoticeable.

  • Hammer

    I’d really like to be able to save games for the future replay: I will delete a game when I’m bored with it (to make room for new games, more music or whatever). But in. Say 3 months I’d like to be able to reinstall the game and continue where I left off rather than start all over again.

  • The server based games do it. I hate to admit playing it, but Hay Day does it perfectly – and cross platform as well. I can pick up my Nexus 5 or my iPad Mini and my progress is the same on either device. The problem is if you aren’t on the network, no game.

    I think the problem is not so much that developers can’t make it happen, its finding a way that doesn’t require them to run their own servers to support the system, one that supports the amount of bandwidth (if a game gets a big enough following) and finally as someone mentioned, a location that is available everywhere they launch the game (for example China’s firewall).

  • Victor Molina

    I know I need that feature on games. I had about 18 hours on oceanhorn on my iPad 4. I did a reset to jailbreak an bomb those 18 hours of saved data gone for ever. I don’t even want to start over to finish the game.

    An when are we going to see a MFI (made for iPad controller)

  • mrbofus

    Yes, developers need to definitely implement game syncing!

    What really confuses me is a company like Rovio. They introduced the Rovio Account in July 2013 for the original Angry Birds so you can sync progress between any device. Great. And now Angry Birds Go has the Rovio Account too. But Angry Birds Star Wars 2 doesn’t, and that was released in September. And as far as I know, none of the other Angry Birds games have it yet. How does a billion dollar company not have the resources to implement this?

    Even worse, in the games that do have the capability to sync game progress, there is no way to overwrite the data in the cloud or the device. For example, if you download Angry Birds on your iPhone, log in to your Rovio Account, and start playing, it saves your progress. Great. Then if you download Angry Birds HD on your iPad, but do NOT log in to your Rovio Account (because you forgot), beat all the levels, there is now no way to sync that progress on your iPhone. If you log into your Rovio Account on your iPad, it loads the old progress from your iPhone. You can’t overwrite the cloud data with the data from the device. There are other games that allow you to overwrite the cloud data with the data on the device.

    I’ve opened a support request with Rovio twice about this, and both times, I get no response and Rovio marks the request as “solved”. I guess they’re just trying to ignore this? *sigh*

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Start opening up support requests about unsolved support requests being marked as solved without any responses eventually they’re bound to start listening and if they don’t then just stop buying their games and if you must buy them pirate them instead because a company like that deserves zero money from anyone…

      • mrbofus

        Yeah, I did that. I guess between Christmas and New Year’s Day, they have an excuse for not getting back to me, but we’ll see…

  • Yasser Kaskas

    Thanks for the article. It’s a problem that’s bothered me a while now.

  • Greg Osenbach

    I tend to use ifile with dropbox. I can find the save games files, cooy them up, then copy the down to the other device. Works like a champ. Not as seamless as i would like but it does work pretty well.