The Data Transfer Project has big-name support, but it’s missing the biggest one: Apple

The Data Transfer Project has big-name support, but it’s missing the biggest one: Apple

The Data Transfer Project addresses one pain point we all experience on our phones: moving data. While it’s certainly gotten easier over the years to

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The Data Transfer Project addresses one pain point we all experience on our phones: moving data. While it’s certainly gotten easier over the years to share individual photos, songs, and files from one app to another, shifting large chunks of data or entire libraries and histories between services is often an exercise in futility, even with hundreds of gigabytes of cloud storage at our disposal.

The open-source Data Transfer Project initiative aims to solve that problem once and for all. It already has four major players pledging support—Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft—with the ultimate goal of separating the data from the service. Once it’s up and running, the project will make it easier for users to switch to a new app or network, or simply try out a different one without needing to start from scratch.

But while the four founding members are certainly big enough to get the Data Transfer Project off the ground, it’s missing the support of the biggest player of all: Apple. And without the iPhone maker on board, it’s going to be a tougher sell than it should be.

Share and share alike

On the surface, the Data Transfer Project has a very simple goal that all providers and developers should support: portability, privacy, and interoperability. In the announcement, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft served up this clear mission statement: Making it easier for individuals to choose among services facilitates competition, empowers individuals to try new services, and enables them to choose the offering that best suits their needs.

iphone x handsIDG

iPhone users should get the same Data Transfer experience as Android users.

The timing of the announcement isn’t accidental. While the group was officially formed last year, 2018 has been a troubling year for data and privacy, particularly with regard to three of the companies here. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have each taken very public lumps over the handling of user data. Most recently, the European Union implemented a stringent set of laws governing privacy rights and adding layers of transparency for users.

If nothing else, the Data Transfer Project is a public commitment to free users’ data from any one service and respect the right to move it between apps. In simple terms, your Facebook photos are just photos, so when the next big social thing comes along, you won’t need to rebuild your entire digital profile.

The benefit applies to non-social situations as well. As the group explains in its white paper: “A user doesn’t agree with the privacy policy of their music service. They want to stop using it immediately, but don’t want to lose the playlists they have created. Using this open-source software, they could use the export functionality of the original provider to save a copy of their playlists to the cloud. This enables them to import the playlists to a new provider, or multiple providers, once they decide on a new service.”

For anyone who’s ever moved from Spotify to Apple Music, this is a dream come true. But for a project like this to work, it needs the support of the biggest and the smallest developers. And the biggest name that isn’t on this list is Apple. If the Data Transfer Project works with Google accounts and not iCloud, or Spotify and not Apple Music, it’s never going to become as seamless as it needs to be.

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