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Archive for the 'geotagging' Category

Imageotag: Photo Orientation/Geotagging, Annotation And Google Earth Photo Overlay Tour Creator

Application Name: Imageotag

Description: Photo position and orientation recording; thumbnail mapping; audio/text photo annotation; Google Earth photo overlay tour creator

Publisher’s website: Imageotag

Cost: Free (donationware)

Version/date reviewed: v. 1.1.11  /  11-12-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2
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Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


Imageotag is a fairly-new geotagging-oriented Android camera app with a number of unique features:

Full geotagging

Most Android units will start up the GPS, and embed coordinate data into the EXIF metadata header of the photo to mark its position; this is usually called “geotagging”. In fact, if you don’t want this information in your photos, you’ll have to turn this function manually, or strip out the data with an app. The EXIF spec allows embedding  the compass direction in which you’re taking the photo into the EXIF header, but even though many Android units include a compass, none that I know of embed the photo direction. That’s too bad, as it would simplify the creation of Google Earth Photo Overlays, a way to display photos in Google Earth overlaying the actual perspective (more on this below). Imageotag doesn’t embed this information directly into a photo either; but what it will do is record this information, and then overlays that information as text on a second version of the photo. Here’s a photo snapped with Imageotag:

sample

And here’s the second image, with information about the coordinates, camera compass bearing, camera roll/pitch orientation, and more; there’s also a compass overlay at upper right, with the arrow pointing the direction of north:

There’s a full rundown on what data is embedded at the Imageotag website, but it basically includes most sensor data, including GPS/network position, accelerometer, light meter, and direction as determined by the compass (corrected for your local magnetic declination, so it’s the true direction). Tip: You can set the photo size to be between 330K pixels and 5 megapixels, but at lower resolutions, the text can be virtually impossible to read. Individual photos can have custom text embedded in them as well, and you can even voice-annotate photos.

Sets of photos can be viewed a number of different ways, including (Figure 1):

roll
A scrollable display of pictures
contact
Contact sheet
thumbnails
Thumbnails displayed in a Google Maps view (tap on the bottom to bring up the zoom buttons)
slideshow
Continuous slideshow
photomap
“Photo Maps”, with a slideshow in the top half, and the bottom showing where the picture was taken in Google Maps, and the direction you were facing


sequence

Figure 2: Now this is where it gets really cool. While you can shoot photos one by one, you can also set up Imageotag to shoot photo “sequences”, where a photo is snapped automatically based on either a distance or time interval. At left is a thumbnail map of one part of a sequence, where I specified that a photo be taken every 50 meters as determined by GPS. These can then be played as a standard slideshow, or as a Photo Maps slideshow.

But wait, that’s not all! When you’re done shooting a sequence, Imageotag automatically assembles all of the images into a single Google Earth KMZ file as photo overlays, where the photo is positioned in the spot it was taken, and oriented so that it’s overlaying the scenery at that spot (Figure 3):

gegeo

You can view any of these images in full photo overlay mode by double-clicking on the photo, or its listing in the places pane (Figure 4):

poverlay

You can even play back an animated tour of all these sequence photos, but here Google Earth’s limitations make it less than satisfactory. The photos in the animated tour aren’t displayed by Google Earth in full resolution, so when you zoom in on them they look pixelated and grainy. As you’ll see when you look at individual photos, they’re in full resolution, so it’s not Imageotag’s fault; and there doesn’t seem to be any settings in Google Earth to fix this problem. While KMZ overlay files are created automatically for sequences, you can also generate them manually for sets of individual photos.

I’ve missed a few features, I’m sure, but there’s a lot to explore in this app. Be sure to check out the settings, which offers a lot of control over photo and program parameters. And there’s lots of documentations and tutorials on the app’s website.

Other issues: Been looking at this app for a month or more, and the author has done a great job of cleaning up bugs/quirks, and making it work with a wide range of cameras. One minor limitation is that the highest image resolution currently available is 5 megapixels, even on phones that have cameras with greater resolution; that’s a hardware/software limitation. Occasionally, the main screen where you take the photos will shrink to a smaller size, but exiting and re-starting the program fixes that. The app was also originally designed on a phone with a trackball; while the author seems to have modified it successfully to work on a touch-screen phone only, you might still run across some functions that don’t work without it (author is working to fix all of these).

Final thoughts: In a market full of apps that duplicate each other, Imageotag is unique and valuable. If you’re interested in georeferencing your photos to the greatest degree possible, this program is virtually indispensable. Highly recommended.




Map Geotagged Photo Locations In Android With Been There

Application Name: Been There

Description: Maps locations of geotagged photos on an Android phone; displays thumbnails

Publisher’s website: Been There

Cost: Free basic version; ~ $1 paid version adds ability to organize photos in albums, export photos in KMZ format for viewing in Google Earth.

Version/date reviewed: v. 1.3.5 (free)  /  10-26-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

beenthere_qr

Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


Been There takes all the geotagged photos on your Android unit (ones with the photo location embedded in the EXIF metadata), and plots their location in a Google Maps interface.

beenthere_1

Figure 1: Pictures within the mapped area visible are shown in thumbnail format at the top; you can drag the thumbnail strip either direction to view more photos

beenthere_2

Figure 2: Tap quickly on a thumbnail at the top, and the location it was taken will be highlighted in the map. Similarly, tap on a point on the map, and the photo thumbnail for that point will be highlighted at the top. A longer tap on a thumbnail will bring up a slightly larger version of the photo in a viewer to fill the phone’s screen (no zoom options, though). A long tap on a thumbnail followed by drag lets you resize the thumbnails larger or smaller.

beenthere_3

Figure 3: If you zoom in on the map, only those thumbnails within the map view will be visible. Similarly, zooming out will show additional thumbnails located in the map area. A “My Location” option in the menu will show you where you’re currently located, which can help you navigate to the location where a photo was taken.

Other Issues:

If you’re zoomed out so that lots of pictures need to be plotted on your map, it can take a few seconds for the thumbnails to show up.

Final thoughts:

This is the first app of this type I’ve reviewed (there’s a few others I’ll get to at some point), but even so, I like it a lot; I have difficulty imagining that similar apps would be much easier to use, or work as well. Recommended.




Remove Photo Geotagging Info With Geo Eraser

Application Name: Geo Eraser Free

Description: Creates a copy of a photo with geotagging coordinates removed

Publisher’s website: Sakaneya

Cost: Free (ad-supported)

Version/date reviewed: v. 0.22  /  10-17-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

geoeraser_qr

Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


A recent NY Times article told the story of how Mythbuster Adam Savage posted an iPhone photo taken near his house, without realizing that the geographic coordinates for that location were being automatically embedded in the photo (usually referred to as photo “geotagging”). So people could easily find out where he lived, and also know that he wasn’t at home. Most Android phones with GPS come with geotagging turned on as the default, and while you can turn that off, it can be inconvenient to continually turn it on and off (plus you can forget how you last left it). Geo Eraser lets you create an exact copy of a geotagged photo, but with the coordinate information stripped out; it can also optionally remove the photo’s date and time as well.

geoerase_1

Figure 1: You never actually run the Geo Eraser app directly; instead, you open a photo with the viewer app of your choice, then “share” it to Geo Eraser.

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Figure 2: The photo is displayed at the bottom, and if it has coordinate/date info embedded, that’s shown at the top. The “Location” in China seen at left is a bug – that’s where the photo would be for an eastern longitude the same coordinates as the actual western longitude.

geoerase_4

Figure 3: The Menu => Erase Item page lets you set whether the coordinates, date/time or both are to be erased

geoerase_3

Figure 4: When ready, just press the “Erase GeoTag” button, and a copy of the original photo will have the unwanted geographic metadata stripped out, and be put into a folder called “Geo Eraser” with the same filename as the original photo. Since some Android phones give photos automatic names that contain the date and time, you may need to rename the photo if you want to completely scrub date/time data out.

Other Issues:

None, apart from the “location” bug mentioned above, which doesn’t affect anything of consequence.

Final thoughts:

Really only does one job, but does it perfectly. Definitely worth having if you’ll ever need to remove photo geotags.




Catch Notes: Augmented Notepad With Geotagging Options

Application Name: Catch Notes

Description: Notepad with geotagging, picture embedding; online sync.

Publisher’s website: Snaptic

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.2.0.1  /  10-1-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2

3banana_qr

Android market link (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)


Catch Notes is a terrific free note-taking application for the Android platform from Snaptic.

 

freshscreen

Figure 1: From the main screen, tap on the “Enter A Private Note” to start up a note; tapping on the picture icon takes you automatically to your camera app to snap a shot. Here, I’ll just start out with a note …

3bnotescreen

Figure 2: Type whatever text you want into the box at top. You also can use the buttons at the bottom to:

– Take a single photo and attach it to the note (more below)
– Attach a single photo from your gallery to the note; this didn’t work for me on my Droid X, YMMV
– Scan a barcode and enter the data into your note. For regular 2D UPC codes, this enters the UPC number into your note; you’ll have to look up the product data separately. For QR codes, whatever data is embedded in the QR code will be entered into the note.

picturetaken

Figure 3: If I choose to take a picture, my camera app will start up, letting me shoot the photo. After the picture is taken, the menu at left shows up onscreen; I can choose to reshoot the photo, abort the photo, or click “Done” to accept the photo and go back to the note page.

picture

Figure 4: A thumbnail of the photo shows up at the bottom of the screen. But the full-resolution photo is also saved on your unit, and can be downloaded to your computer later on. Add whatever additional notes you want, and save the note. Putting a hash tag (#) in front of a word marks it as a label for help in organizing/categorizing/sorting your notes.

notelist

Figure 5: A listing for the new note shows up on your main screen, along with picture thumbnail; tapping on the note listing will bring it up a full view of it for reading/editing. You can also share a note publicly via email or social network sites, or send it to other compatible apps on your unit (e.g. Evernote).

The little teardrop icon at lower left in the note listing indicates that I’ve turned on “Location tagging” and “Location pin” from the Settings menu; this embeds the latitude/longitude into the note info, and shows that the note is geotagged. However, the app seems to automatically reverse-geocode the lat/long and displays an address at the bottom of the note if one is nearby; seems you can’t choose to just display latitude/longitude. I hope they offer that option in the future, as well as the option to remove the geotagging data if you don’t want it. But tomorrow’s post will show a way to get around that limitation.

If a note is geotagged, you’ll have the option to “Show on Map” appear in the menu settings; this will display a placemark icon in Google Maps indicating where the note was created.

You have the option of signing up for a free account with Snaptic; if you do, notes can be synced onto your online account for viewing/editing/sharing:

snapticsite

If you’re not online, no problem – notes are saved locally, and can be synced later. You have the option of automatic syncing whenever there’s a connection, or manually starting the sync process whenever you like. Snaptic syncing also works with their AK Notepad app, which is a fine plain-vanilla note app by itself (but Catch Notes is better).

Final thoughts:

IMO, Catch Notes is the best basic note-taking app available for Android; it has just enough features to be useful, but not so many to make it difficult to learn. And online data sync is bonus. As-is, its geotagging capabilities are limited, but still useful. But there’s another app that significantly augments the geotagging of Catch Notes, and takes it to another level. That’s tomorrow’s post.

Revisions:
10/1/10 to reflect change of app’s name to “Catch Notes” from “3banana”