Ontario Journalist, Writer, Photography & Filmmaker

GeoTagging for Android

I wrote a couple articles back in 2010 about geocoding (or geotagging) photos using an app for Blackberry phones.  Having recently switched to the Android platform, I was looking to do the same thing with the new Android phone.

There are a number of apps that come up when searching the Android Market for geotagging or gps tracking.  The one I’ve started with is GPSLogger.  I chose it because (a) it’s free and (b) because it natively creates track logs in the .gpx format which is what the syncing software GPicSync uses.

How’s it work?  Pretty well.  The app will run in the background so you can do other things while the app is tracking your route.  You can set it to log a point based on time interval or distance.  I use time (10 sec).  Battery/power management is most definitely not a strength of Android phones.  If the phone I have is being used regularly, I don’t count on getting more than a day of use before having to recharge.  I had this app running in the background recently for over 12 hours and still got the same day’s worth of use from the phone so it doesn’t appear to be a significant drain on the battery; which is good.

Back in the office, the same steps are followed to sync the geocode data using GPicSync.  You point the software at the folder where your images are located, point it to where the track file is located, set your time difference from GMT, choose how you want the geocode information embedded into the EXIF of the image files and let it do its thing.

Checking the accuracy of the tagging after the fact in the new Map module of the beta version of Lightroom 4, it’s generally close.  Some of the images taken in the same location are shown to be slightly off, but not dramatically so.  I also had the app set up to use cell towers to log location rather than satellites.  Using cell towers is less accurate but also less drain on the battery.  My expectation is if I used satellites, the accuracy would be that much better.

If you’re reading this article without having read the original article with a more extensive workflow explanation, you’ll need to remember to sync the clocks in your phone and camera as closely as possible.  Then, in GPicSync, you need to set an appropriate time offset for the difference between the time coded in the EXIF of the image and the time on the trackpoint of your route.

In short, it works and it’s easy to do. Are you geotagging your photos yet?