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
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:
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:
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):
A scrollable display of pictures
Thumbnails displayed in a Google Maps view (tap on the bottom to bring up the zoom buttons)
“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
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):
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):
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.