App review: Geotag Photos Pro for iOS/Android
If you read my post about geotagging photos for your tablet, you have probably already guessed what this app does from the name alone. Geotag Photos Pro is quite simply a specialized app that is designed to give you geotagging data for photos the simplest way possible. Many more advanced apps (for hikers, joggers etc) have the ability to save tracks to GPX files as well, but Geotag Photos is tailored to do only that one thing (which sometimes is better). Read on to see how it works.
I’m going to assume that you have read the above-mentioned article and know what geotagging entails, so I’m not going to go into detail on that again. Early this morning I woke up to an SMS from the postal service telling me that a package was waiting at the post office. Inside was a Canon 300 HS (SD4000IS in the US) that I ordered last week, a pretty nice compact camera that has a great HD video feature that will complement my DSLR camera well. Part of the point of getting a compact camera was to have something more portable than a DSLR to carry around, and that also means that carrying my Garmin Oregon 450 GPS just for geotagging would also be a bit too much. That’s why I decided to try out a tracking app on the iPhone, since that’s always with me.
Just to be clear, Geotag Photos is an iPhone app that doesn’t have an iPad-specific version. However it does work with the iPad, but you either need the 3G version (which is the only one with a GPS chip) or an external GPS. The app is also available on Android and I assume it’s identical (except for file transfer), but I can’t know for sure, so this review is of the iOS version.
Since Geotag Photos only really has one function, everything is streamlined for doing just that- which is the advantage over apps that have this as an add-on feature. When you first start the app, you should make sure to set the settings according to your preferences. This includes syncing your camera’s clock with your iDevice (something that the app makes easy by including a clock that displays date, time down to seconds and time zone) and setting accuracy and log interval settings. Accuracy in this case means whether it should use the GSM towers for positioning if there’s no GPS signals (like inside structures), which is less accurate. You can also set the minimal distance needed for it to register as a position change- which is useful since that will group pictures taken in rougly the same place together rather than have them show off 2 meters from one another on a map because you turned around. Lastly the log interval settings lets you decide how often the app should log your position- based on distance, time, or position changes. I have mine set on “continues”, which means that it logs my position every time I move the set distance in the “minimal distance” setting (50 meters). You can toy with this setting depending on how you act when you take photos- if you stand in one place for an hour you don’t need it to log as often as if you’re literally running around taking pics of everything you pass.
Once the setup is done, you just create a new trip (which you can name) and start “recording” (logging your track). You can then start and stop it as you wish and it will log all to the same trip (same GPX file) or you can start new trips. When you’re safely home with a camera full of photos, you can either transfer the GPX file manually or use the developer’s own software which is wireless. I prefer the first method since I can then use GeoSetter to tag photos- a program that is both free and more advanced than the included solution. To get the GPX file off the iDevice, you simply connect to iTunes and use the file transfer feature to get the file. I sent them a feedback email asking for Dropbox support, and apparently I wasn’t the first to ask for that, so they’re already working on it. The other option for getting the data off your iDevice is to upload the data to geotagphotos.net, where you can use a fancy Java program to tag photos without ever having to know what a GPX files is. Which solution you choose is up to you.
There isn’t much else to say about this app other than that it has what you need (except Dropbox) and not much else- which is the way it should be. This is the sort of app you start and leave running in the background (which works fine, btw) and then at the end of your photo trip you let whatever comptuer side software you choose merge the GPS data with your photos. It’s simple enough that anyone can do it, and it adds such an awesome feature to your photos that I think everyone should. I recently commented on a few photos my dad posted on Failbook Facecrap Facebook that he should start using geotagging, to which he reposnded that “he knew where he’d talen the photos”. That might very well be, but others don’t- and I doubt he’ll remember it either in 10 years time. Geotagging your photos gives you the ability to see exactly where photos are taken, and if you’re consistent with doing it you’ll reap the benefit of having a photo viewer on your tablet with a map full of photo locations.
As you might have guessed, I can really recommend this app, no matter if you have an iPad 3G or an iPhone (or an iDevice with external GPS, which is less likely). Geotag Photos for iOS is free for the Lite version which doesn’t have auto logging and $3.99 for the Pro version which has that. They use the same pricing model on Android: Free for Lite and $3.99 for Pro. Depending on your style of taking pics you might be able to use the Lite version and update manually for each location, but frankly, it’s worth $3.99 either way.
PS: GPX files can also be used for other things. If you have Google Earth installed, simply drag a GPX file from Geotag Photos into it and you can see your track and play with a neat slider interface to see where you were and when. A nice way to record vacations and such even if you don’t have photos from everywhere.