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Auto sync is turned on in both devices but nothing shows up on the Nexus 7 unless I manually transfer pictures via bluetooth. Notably, Calendars and People sync without a problem. But not Gallery. My phone is a Galaxy Nexus. Both devices are running Android 4.1.1.

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Have you signed up for Google+? One of its features is automatically uploading photos. As long as you're using the same account on both devices I'd expect your photos to end up on both (in addition to your Google+/Photos area). –  Al E. Oct 5 '12 at 14:11
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AFAIK, pictures from gallery are not uploaded to picassa gallery by sync, unless you intentionally upload them by sharing options.

To put this to test, I just now tried to capture an image though camera and synced. It did not turn up in Picassa.

I don't know why this way, but on the first hand if your first device is not uploading image to picassa with sync, there is no way your other device is going to get it.

There are plenty of other ways using apps like sugar sync, drop box etc. but I assume here the question was asked in compassion with contacts and calendar which gets synced with Google's services without any other app support.

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Dropbox has a somewhat new option you can enable which will automatically upload all pictures you take to a special Pictures folder in your Dropbox. –  SaintWacko Aug 6 '12 at 21:22
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So there's no way to just take a picture on my phone and have it automatically visible in Gallery on Nexus 7 without using an app like Picasa or Dropbox? What's the point of the option to sync Gallery if it doesn't sync the picture folders between devices? What exactly is it syncing then? –  james Aug 7 '12 at 23:48
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