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Thread: [Full Disclosure] Method to sync iPhone with multiple computers [Seeking a app coder]

  1. #1
    Post [Full Disclosure] Method to sync iPhone with multiple computers [Seeking a app coder]
    I'm posting this PGP encrypted message containing full disclosure on a method I found to sync the iPhone with multiple computers.

    With preliminary testing I've transferred music from different libraries on different computers into the SAME library on an iPhone. This is no TuneSwap/split library solution. It may even support video, contacts, calendar, and notes syncing. I need to test it more. It's all phone-side - no modifications to iTunes.

    I am seeking a developer to help me code this app. I have found the method, but lack Cocoa/iPhone OS coding experience. I plan on this being free, but don't want it to go off half-cocked either (i.e. I don't want people messing up their iPhones). Pseudocode is complete. Implementation is fairly straightforward. But I'd prefer to make it mainstream-friendly. (GUI - not CLI, robust, etc)

    I'll release the key to decrypt this once it's responsible to do so. It's a really, really small discovery - but I don't want people having to restore their iPhones.

    Cheers.

    -HMkX2 Core

    Edit: I've attached it as a .txt file since BBS word-filtering software mangles the PGP message. (e.g. h-ax, even in a random stream, is replaced by ***) Just the signature is below. Signature and encrypted TXT file are attached in a ZIP.

    Edit 2: I've also attached a Quick&Dirty photo as proof. I ripped Songs for the Deaf on the other computer - doesn't exist on the "home" computer. (See search results.) I added it to the iPhone from the "foreign" computer. You can see the other albums I own (with album art) right beside it. It also synced just fine.

    Yeah, yeah, "SHOPPED! I CAN TELL BY THE PIXELS!" - I'm not going to bother posting fifty pictures and a video as proof because honestly, this is the freaking internet. Faking a screenshot is so trivial, it's not worth my time to try to prove otherwise. I've already written up the method in proverbial stone (signed/dated PGP), and put it out for all to see.

    If you don't believe me, you don't believe me - and there's nothing I can do about that.

    Edit 3: Added a progress tasklist. I'll update it when I can.
    Code:
    (Updated:2010-03-14) (Current tested/working FWs: 2.1, 3.1.3)
    Current objective:                  Status:
         Program test code in objective-c [ ]
    
    Isolate method                        [x]
    Reproduce/verify                      [x]
    Blackbox testing                      [x]
    GUI development                       [ ]
        bug testing                       [ ]
    Release                               [ ]    
    
    Manual management
           Music                          [x]
           Video                          [x]
           Contacts                       [x]
           Calendars                      [ ]
           Podcasts                       [-]
           Applications                   [x]
    
    Automatic syncing
           Music upload                   [x]
                 download                 [-]
           Video upload                   [x]
                 download                 [-]
           Contacts                       [-]
           Calendars                      [-]
           Podcasts                       [ ]
           Applications                   [x]
    
           Device backups                 [x]
    	
    Fix stability issues                  [x]
    Accidental damage mitigation          [-]
    ---reverie---                         [x]
    Process automation                    [ ]
    Distributed tracking                  [-]
    ----jena----                          [ ]
    Program test code in objective-c      [ ]
    
    Locate iPhone app developer           [ ]
    
           key: [ ] feature not tested
                [-] under development
                    completed/not as desired
                [x] feature satisfactory



    HMkX2_iPhone_MultiSync.txt.gpg.asc

    Code:
    -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (MingW32)
    
    iQEcBAABAgAGBQJJ3NfrAAoJEKMBv0QItwQtu1wIAKzvI0cfFQgjzZc7XQutlh0Z
    09bNuF+Mb/ywzDKBArTJBm4q0/hT7nj4XUg3DsBSsy61eZHXOAn2PHO61tQQyLYQ
    X4SVrz+AIFdJXrt5Q84i+3u4Jkzu9I83F+uYSvCJ+CMpk5PRCLm/jQVqfU31opv0
    v8cpgOy63FxNJZTQwHz7fkS4UTkN7YBRnO/+HLLAwhwannKvvj6dfvlY851bis17
    S89VxtH8AwZEerOeGR1vAhbTAogIcjKizthq8y+0nu4a+6aBgbKMOvTTrIoofkTe
    zgV/OYERNbZc9UwO0urh5oCBUmnWDHFx4CAJMSh8R4o5bpx1QzkN2ilwFsNfPaQ=
    =6fnt
    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -hmkx2_multisync_001.jpg  
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by HMkX2; 2010-03-14 at 12:49 PM. Reason: Updated after 3.1.3 changes
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  2. #2
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    I vote BS.

    Just me tho from my experience with how iTunes verifies your library structure and how hashes work

  3. #3
    Try to contact saurik - he would be able to do this in a breeze

    Ruben

  4. #4
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    I still don't think this is possible without some type of change to iTunes as the hash is generated when syncing with the device. I would love to see the how-to step by step and then let people actually try it themselves. You will just corrupt your system and media and need to restore at worst case. Then you might get some attention.

    A perfect working example is Mew Seek has the function where it can add music to the library from the phone but when you sync with iTunes the music you added goes away.
    Last edited by boxxa; 2009-04-08 at 11:11 PM.

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  6. #5
    Posting another update, I haven't gone anywhere, just busy.

    I should add I've been testing with manually managed addition/removal for now (not auto-syncing), for two reasons: 1) I don't trust iTunes to not spazz out and delete the library ON my computer 2) I prefer to be in total control of what goes where. This means drag+drop/play/view/listen support for any computer, not intelligent multi-computer distributed tracking (although that is a possibility).

    Results so far: I've gotten "Movies" to work as well. Watched the same clip on two computers, through the iTunes 8 interface. Also tested my method's hypothesis by hooking up to a third computer without any prior preparation - was able to get things working on the first go. Also was able to freely alternate between computers - it's going a lot quicker now. "Music" album art from multiple computers works just fine.

    I don't listen to Podcasts, so I have nothing to test. Am looking into how to set that up now.

    Contacts syncing works as you would expect, I get the "Merge/Replace" dialog. Will try some more poking around to see if I can't get that dialog to go away (i.e. true MultiSync).

    Will post more screenshots soon. Still looking for a developer-buddy though.

    Oopa!

    -HMkX2 Core
    Last edited by HMkX2; 2009-04-10 at 07:33 AM.
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  7. #6
    ... I have spark. : ]

    Soft-bricked my phone a couple times, but I think I've worked out the heuristics of my method. And made it almost completely safe.



    Almost.



    I've also found I can do a couple neat tricks with it now... I was successfully able to get a Video library to auto-sync (not manually!) to the iPhone from the "home" computer, then have the media appear in the "foreign" computer in a valid format with no dialog warnings or errors. I could then play it off the iPhone, and sync/backup the phone normally.

    Auto-syncing at the other end behaves exactly like a normal sync - if identical files are there, and checked, nothing happens. If they don't they are removed from the device. Manual mode works flawlessly though. And then there are the neat tricks...

    Most importantly, I've also gained full control - allowing multiple backups. Picture of all I just said below. Still looking for a coder though.

    じゃあね.

    -HMkX2 Core

    Edit: If anyone knows of an iTunes plugin that allows syncing data off an iPhone, please let me know. I mean automatically, from inside iTunes - something like Mojo.

    Requested behaviour: If a checked item on the device doesn't exist in iTunes, it offloads it onto the computer rather than removing it from the device to match the computer.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -hmkx2_multisync_002.jpg  
    Last edited by HMkX2; 2009-04-11 at 12:55 AM. Reason: Footnote.
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  8. #7
    What's Jailbreak? kc5mhb's Avatar
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    Intersting note: I have a MacBook Pro (work computer) that I sync my iPhone with. Recently we purchased Mac Pros to do our work on. Since we have 4 1TB drives, I decided to use Carbon Copy Clone to have identical machines between the laptop and desktop. Did the clone, used the install disk to fix the small problems and am up and running. Just today synced my iPhone to BOTH machines without any problems.

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  10. #8
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    Anyone want to bet with me that this is going to be an extreme fail?

    A) Itunes updates constantly

    B) 3.0 has a new hash for libraries and media

    C) Simple update and this is gonzo

  11. #9
    ill bet that its going to work once

    but if you dont find someone that will stick around and update the app everytime it will fail

  12. #10
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    My other question is why not just keep Sharepod on a USB drive and use that to put music on your ipod/pc

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by boxxa View Post
    Anyone want to bet with me that this is going to be an extreme fail?

    A) Itunes updates constantly

    B) 3.0 has a new hash for libraries and media

    C) Simple update and this is gonzo
    Although it makes me somewhat happy people are bothering to keep tabs on this, your particular eagerness to see failure reminds me of the same mentality people watching NASCAR have.

    To address your points, A - this is agnostic of iTunes, B - no comment/I haven't upgraded/I only have 1 phone to test with, and C - I have other issues to attend to that I prioritize above this. Example being, my job.

    I am doing this as a hobby; and since I was unable to find a developer willing to assist, I am having to get toolchain working on windows, and teach myself objective-c in my spare time. As I said, the implementation is straightforward, but it may be a while before this sees the light of day because I have to code it myself - something I had wanted to avoid in the name of expediency.

    You're forgetting I am just a regular Joe that had this problem, found a solution, and want to help other people. As my mother said, if you don't have anything constructive to say, well, don't say it.

    Quote Originally Posted by him121213 View Post
    ill bet that its going to work once

    but if you dont find someone that will stick around and update the app everytime it will fail
    I can't speak to that. The iPhone-dev team will tell you something similar. True, Apple could disable anything they want at any arbitrary point in time, but I have constrained myself to remain on (arguably) the straight and narrow. This is nothing you can't already do with a regular iPod nano. This app would only address syncing your iPhone with multiple computers, on Jailbroken phones at that. There are already methods to do much, much "more" (see below following quote).

    (I may have found a way to get this working on non-jailbroken iPhones as well, but again, that is described in the PGP encrypted document. As it would not be responsible to disclose it without first making it safe, I have not at this point.)

    Quote Originally Posted by boxxa View Post
    My other question is why not just keep Sharepod on a USB drive and use that to put music on your ipod/pc
    Yes, that is one solution. But it doesn't fix iTunes for people who want to use it, or carry over their song ratings, sync contacts, podCasts, etc etc. There are already pseudo-solutions as I said before, but they cause their own problems. (SwapTunes forks your library, etc.) In fact, I would go so far as to recommend people use that program if they want a solution in the meanwhile. It's just not... elegant.

    And the same arguments that apply for my app ("but if you dont find someone that will stick around and update the app everytime it will fail") apply for SharePod as well. They changed the hash once, and they can do so again - you can read quite a few good arguments online why the Amarok team isn't even scheduling for fw 2.0 support. I've been poring through material like that in the past few days, so no, the situation is not lost on me.

    In any case, progress is ongoing, but extremely slow. I've stopped most feature development in favor of getting a "Hello World" app working. There are already "good enough" solutions out there, make no mistake - mine is just "better".

    -HMkX2 "not gonzo" Core
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  14. #12
    I for one would love to see this evolve further but I feel like Apple updates will surely render it useless. However that does NOT mean that it could not be updated when needed. I think this would be possibly one of the best apps ever if it is well maintained and works with the 3.0 public release.

    Props to you man!

  15. #13
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    So update your iTunes to 8.2 and see how much set back you are


    Also, your argument of Sharepod broke the hash is not really a argument. Its a stand alone program. You are talking about making any iTunes perform this function by modifying the iPhone which is what I am saying will not happen. You will need to modify iTunes too on each computer if you want to use it since iTunes was built around its DRM ability and functionality. Also, if you have a music library on your phone as soon as you execute a sync on iTunes, it verifies the songs with your library so again, you will need to modify the iTunes application itself.


    Someone who goes to another persons house, they are better off just downloading sharepod (small, simple, no installation) and copying the music they want to their phone and go. A
    Last edited by boxxa; 2009-04-29 at 09:26 PM.

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by boxxa View Post
    So update your iTunes to 8.2 and see how much set back you are
    Rapture's going to hell, and why? Because of them... always behind the scenes. At the Lyceum, at the galleries in SoHo, even down here, in this so-called-Utopia.... The Doubters.

    I'm bringing this project back from layaway. I recently updated to iTunes 9.0.3 and f/w 3.1.3, and my method still works perfectly, with minor tweaks.

    I've thrown out using automatic sync for the most part (it has a nasty propensity to remove songs that aren't in the library) but the upside of that is identical-duplicates are handled much better in iTunes now. (Probably due to the new SQLite DB)

    Manual management works perfectly. Can "use"/"play" songs off the iPhone from any computer. Independent playlists from multiple computers work fine as long as you aren't auto-managing using them (Music -> Sync Music -> Only selected playlists). (It removes items that aren't common to the library you're on.) Manual playlists work perfectly fine though.

    The same songs in different playlists from different computers (duplicates) are not doubled-up, they are shared. Apps are forced to use "sync" by design - I can't control that - but they can be offloaded onto any computer at will (as long as it's "authorized"); I haven't seen what the effects of the mobileinstallation patch are yet, though, since I don't use it. (I've also found a hack way to offload onto any computer, regardless of that computer's authorization status.)

    I can control photo album syncing on a per-computer basis, and it will prompt an option whether to keep or erase non-common photos.

    If for some god-unknown reason you want to enable automatic music management (i.e. "Manually manage music" not checked), I can toggle that option on and off without iTunes forcing you to wipe your iPhone (yay).

    Haven't touched Calendar/Notes/Contacts yet, but they should function similarly. They are per-computer, so it should pose no problem.

    I've also noticed some other people independently ran across my general method about six months after I posted it. Seeing as how little (more) damage can be done now that it's out in the wild, it is slightly outdated (the "little tweaks" needed to get it working on 3.1.3/9.0.3) - and Apple dropped the iTunesDB format like a bad habit - I'm releasing the GPG key to the archive in the first post.

    83EAD4A1ABE9097D
    CAST5 SYMMETRIC CIPHER

    I'll try to at the very least make a pseudocode graphic for someone with the SDK.

    Only way forward now for the more advanced options I proposed would be reverse engineering of the SQLite databases - and that is slightly beyond my abilities. Oh well.
    -HMkX2 Core
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  17. #15
    good luck with you're public release... keep us updated. this seems interesting and useful.
    also, does it work with copying apps?

  18. #16
    Livin the iPhone Life CaptainChaos's Avatar
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    I would buy this if it were straight forward plug and play

  19. #17
    Default Yes, it can do apps.
    Quote Originally Posted by extremzocker View Post
    good luck with you're public release... keep us updated. this seems interesting and useful.
    also, does it work with copying apps?
    Yes, it works for copying apps. I can manage app (syncing) from any computer I want. The "Apps" tab in iTunes is not greyed out. Only downside, there is NO such thing as "manual App management" in iTunes. You need all the apps currently on the iPhone in *that* computer's iTunes library (*IF* app syncing is enabled), or upon the next sync it will be removed from the iPhone (to make it match the Library). (You get a warning dialog though.) I have found a way to toggle this behaviour on or off, when I want to.

    I didn't have that particular problem since all my computers are "authorized". It automatically copied off ("Transfer purchases") all the apps from the iPhone to any "foreign" library (that didn't have a particular app) without problems, since all of my "foreign" computers were already "authorized".

    The MobileInstallation patch available from some Cydia repos allows you to do the same, without jumping through hoops or hitting that stupid 5 computer limit. This is a completely moral use of it.

    However, I think that artificial restriction is a bit stupid and draconian by Apple, so I came up with my own way to manually manage apps, and not have iTunes delete them in a hissy-fit.

    Important announcement: I have (re-)discovered a way to manually install iPhone apps without adding it to the "app sync list" that iTunes controls. Normal manual /Applications/ folder installations make the app spew its ./Documents/ data all over the filesystem - it's not sandboxed - and apps installed that way cannot be uninstalled on-the-fly (little "x" when icons jiggle to move). I messed with a few existing scripts to install apps without that restriction, and in a way iTunes shouldn't spaz out and delete it. This method also allows iPhone app backup programs like AppBackup (for your savegames/high scores) to recognize and work seamlessly with manually installed apps. More importantly, it is completely independent of certain grey-market applications Cydia/Saurik warns about, and is completely morally upstanding.

    I'll drive home I did this mainly because I was fed up I couldn't even *connect*/manually manage, much less sync, my iPhone with multiple computers like I could with my Nano.

    Right now I'm at the point I can do all this on-the-fly from MobileTerminal in my iPhone, with some prep-work better suited for a simple GUI. Using 3.1.3 firmware on a jailbroken 3G, confirmed working on a 3.1.3 jailbroken 2G as well.

    -HMkX2 Core
    Last edited by HMkX2; 2010-03-14 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Rypo
    - HMkX2 CORE F6BC 6626 F92A A8F6 72C3 5B4A A301 BF44 08B7 042D

  20. #18
    is there any kind of release and name yet? VERY interested in using it.

  21. #19
    Congrats would love to see this
    Keep it going through itunes/ iphone updates would be genius
    nothing short of a legend
    I am sure many people would pay for this if it worked seamlessly.

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