2016/NYC/Device data

From IndieWeb

Device Data Portability was a session at IndieWebCamp NYC 2016

Problem Statement

The problem: data getting stuck on our mobile/portable devices, data portability challenges

The question: How can we best use our mobile devices, perhaps with our own websites, to keep control of our own data, and avoid having it get stuck in any particular device?

IndieWeb Examples

Concrete recent examples:

  • Tom Morris's experience with transferring data from Android to iOS phone: https://tommorris.org/posts/9408
    • WhatsApp
    • Contacts (stored on SIM)
      • some contacts came without email address, or without notes, using Apple's Move to iOS app
    • Photos
    • Music
    • There's an Android App to help with this, but it is very fragile and say crashes after downloading 5GB of your photos.

What data

What data?

What data do you care about?

  • Photos/Videos
  • Notes
  • Txt messages / iMessage / SMS / MMS / WhatsApp messages
  • Contacts
  • Auth tokens?
  • Wifi logins/2FA tokens
  • Starbucks cards
  • Maps.me My Places

Cloud Problems

Why not iCloud?

Why not sync everything to iCloud?

iCloud depends on Apple's authentication/identity system AppleID, which is notoriously unreliable.

iCloud itself is unreliable, deletes data

  • See Jeffrey Zeldman's many blog posts about this

Mat Honan incident:


Possible solutions / approaches:

1. Give up on some of it (resign yourself to losing your iMessage history)

2. Write apps for multiple platforms

3. Document solutions

For notes, use Gmail drafts instead of iOS Notes application. The premise of Evernote is this.

For photos & videos, on iOS / Mac - use MacOS "Image Capture" to download the photos. Sync all to a service.

For iMessage/messages/SMS/MMS, use Facebook Messenger.

For 2FA, use Authy not Google Authenticator. Store backup password on paper. Alternatively, 1Password.

For contacts, don't store on SIM, use CardDAV sync (to what server or service?)

For Starbucks cards, take a screenshot of the app when you bring up the "Pay" screen with the QRCode-like

Sync to all the clouds! GWG: I sync to all the clouds I can sync to for free.


  • Handles at least files (a la Dropbox) and Contacts
  • mlncn syncs to Owncloud on MayFirst.org (a community, membership $100/year)
  • you can also install Owncloud on your own server
  • Mobile clients for Android (including F-Droid), iOS, Blackberry, and Amazon

BitTorrent Sync for photos and files.

Really Challenging Problems


iMessage - especially when you have them across various devices.

After your device is offline

offline iOS device

photos & videos: use Image Capture on a mac to copy down the images

Notes: ??? There's no Notes Capture - why not? (because iOS Notes app stores notes in an SQLite database (maybe even coredata), whereas photos & videos are just "in the file system" and so Image Capture was easier to write.

Similar with Contacts, and Calendar.

Sync to iTunes will download: ???


I'd like my device to auto-sync everything with my personal site that I control. -t

  • possibly use Owncloud to do this?

Your site as your own personal cloud for all your devices.

Mobilepub/Quill with offline support could do this for notes - to a site that supports micropub.