eXtensions - Wednesday 8 January 2020


Cassandra - Wednesday Diversion: iOS 13 Photo-sync problems on iPhone 11 Pro - now for the Engineers

By Graham K. Rogers


The iPad Pro still needs tethering to qualify as a Pro device among other features, including keywords in Photos. The backups are complete and with all my images on external disk, now is the time for Apple engineers to examine my iCloud to discover why the iPhone will not synchronise.

In the last set of comments I noted how the iPad Pro has really helped my productivity particularly with the update to iPad iOS 13, because I am now able to access external media, such as a disk drive or flash drive. I also frequently download photographs directly from my DSLR to the iPad Pro using a cable connection. One thing that is missing to make it a real pro device is the ability to tether a camera. I am able to do this on the Mac of course and this is useful both in teaching, and if I am working at home with certain shots. Recently Hasselblad added this feature to its Phocus mobile app for the iPad. As I use a Nikon app for GPS locations on the camera it seems like a good idea that Nikon might consider for the SnapBridge app so I decided to write to the company at the weekend

Some things are never straightforward, and when I accessed the support page for Thailand it was of course only in Thai. To circumvent this I lied. I accessed the United States support pages and wrote the query there, explaining that I was in Thailand, that the pages had no English capability, and in any case it was a universal problem. Having written the query, I then had to go through a series of information entries, each controlled by a scroll wheel: device, software, software version; and when I thought I was done, the software identified me as a new user and asked for my name. Once submitted, a panel showed that I would be contacted within 48 hours, and a confirmation appeared in my inbox. It is now Wednesday and I have heard nothing, although Nikon did have some major new releases this week.

Downloading photos to iPad Pro
Downloading photos to iPad Pro from Nikon D850

An interesting note appeared on PetaPixel at the beginning of the week concerning tethering of Canon cameras on Macs with Catalina using Lightroom. It does not work. Something in 10.15.2 has "broken Lightroom's ability to tether with Canon cameras, and there is currently no workaround" (DL Cade).

I was reminded briefly about my experience with Photos on the iPhone (see below) and syncing after the iOS 13.2 update. Adobe has no workaround and suggests an older version of Catalina, although some users have switched to Capture One Pro. The fault may lie with the Canon API, and I remember how the Canon printer drivers for the Mac would stop working after each macOS update, so now I print from the iPhone. It is also why I use VueScan rather than Canon's own software for the scanner I have.

I suppose I may be tempting providence by playing about with Photos on iOS, but the iPad has been problem-free and all images are synchronizing properly, so some photographs I scanned at the weekend using the Mac, are all available in the library (and albums) on the iPad Pro, and the iPad come to that: just not the iPhone. As I am working more and more with the iPad Pro (it is easier on my back for one thing) I want to do some of the tasks I carry out easily on the Mac, but there are still barriers to this, apart from tethering (above).

One of the ways to manage images is to use keywords. Apple is quite good at this on its own. When a user imports some images, algorithms identify some main features and a search can reveal images that have no keywords entered. However, I am learning that the use of keywords, especially with a large photo library, is useful for productivity: I cannot simply scroll through the entire library for a picture I think I took a couple of years back.

When I scan film, I enter several keywords that reference the camera type and film use, but location, and other identifiers that help indicate what is in the image (people, buildings, city, landscape, flowers, trees, wild-life) will all help narrow down any search. If I just enter the word, Agfa, I have a whole series of results, including some shots taken at a specific location. I entered that as a keyword on the Mac in Photos after scanning the negatives.

Search on iPad Pro
Search on iPad Pro - use of keywords

My problem with the iPad is that it is no longer possible to enter keywords on iOS (and iPadOS) devices which is an immediate bar to efficiency. It may be possible to use a 3rd party app, but I have had little success and this is a feature that Apple should allow. It goes further as, unlike the Mac, there is no ability to or add any information to the image apart from metadata created when the photograph was taken, and it is only possible to read that using a 3rd-party application. I have looked at several such apps, but rely on Investigator now, which I can access directly from Photos. I sent a Feature request to Apple at the Feedback pages (themselves hard to find).

While working with the Apple Helper on my long-running iPhone 11 Photos sync problem, it was necessary to create a new library - this one on an external disk - and work from that temporarily for backup purposes. That used original images so was much larger and would have been too big for the Mac's internal SSD. Once that was all done, I switched back to my original library on the hard disks with the smaller, optimized library. However this is not a straightforward process as it was with Aperture,where a menu item would allow selection of another or a new library. With Photos a user needs to quit, then restart with the Option key pressed, which allows for selection of an existing library (or creation of a new one).

An alternative is it find the library that is to be used (in the Finder) and double click on that. This is time-wasting and suggests Apple does not trust ordinary users. Now I have all photos saved on disk in a doubled up form (library and originals), the problem is to be escalated to the engineering team. I hope this will find what has been blocking synchronization and a fix will be forthcoming.

external disks
A selection of external disks

At the weekend I also tracked down that InCase Design DSLR backpack I have been interested in, in Siam Paragon. It was priced at the full 6500 baht and I mentioned to the girl how much cheaper it was in the online site I had looked at. She was interested so I clicked through and found the B&H page then showed her the $109 price tag. She reached for a calculator and worked out the Baht price using 34 to the dollar has an exchange rate. Her expression was a picture. She said, Why? It is a question I have asked many times when buying equipment here, but this confirmed my decision to buy from B&H rather than from a local outlet. Even Lazada shows 6500 baht. The importers are almost certain not to buy at retail prices, so someone is making an extra profit, presuming they sell any of the backpacks at that price.

Tamron 35mm lens
Nikon D850 with Tamron 35mm f/1.4 lens

I went back to have another look the next dsay as I had not checked out if the cameras would really fit, although the review itself was positive. I took the Nikon with the new (and large) Tamron 35mm lens, along with the Hasselblad. A new assistant was really patient as I checked all the pockets and zips then put the cameras into the bag. Both fit quite easily an there is room for more although I would have to rejig the movable spacers. The one I looked at was blue, but the B&H site only shows black. I did try other options, but Black it is and I expect this will be in my hands for ($145.49) 4575 baht early next week. I had emails from B&H and DHL the next morning (Tuesday) telling me the backpack is on the way.

Hasselblad 500C/M film camera

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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