Four ways to geotag untagged images with Smart GPS Sync

What if you have an iPhone — which has GPS built-in — but you take most of your pictures using a dSLR without GPS capabilities? Or even more shockingly: you don’t have GPS at all to geotag your photos? Until now, you were either “old” or an oddball, but that may change with Picture Instruments’ newest app, Smart GPS Sync.

Smart GPS Sync is a clever application for the Mac that allows you to tag images with geographic data even if you don’t have a GPS that automatically tags your photos at all. However, you can make good use of Picture Instruments’ latest software in other circumstances as well. If you have a smartphone with GPS built-in, you can now simply make a snapshot of the location where you shoot your untagged images and propagate the GPS coordinates to those untagged images. And if you are in a location where GPS signals are to weak, you can even use the data from shortly before or after the untagged shoot.

The app itself has a user-friendly interface. As usual with Picture Instruments’ applications, the interface is original. It doesn’t look like a typical OS X design, nor does it resemble Apple’s “Pro” apps like Final Cut Pro X too much. Although I am not a huge fan of Picture Instruments’ interface design, Smart GPS Sync isn’t too bad. I still think the developer should ideally hire a professional designer. I’m sure a pro can turn the sharp-cornered buttons and thin icons into something more eye-catching without losing the originality the developer is after. But in this case, the interface really doesn’t matter much. You’ll only use the app to propagate location data whenever there’s none attached to your images, anyway, so looks don’t matter too much.

geotagging images

Geotagging images with Smart GPS Sync

With Smart GPS Sync you can transfer GPS data from single photos or specific latitude and longitude data to any number of photos without GPS tag. The easiest way to load images is by dragging them into the working area.

You have multiple transmission modes to choose from. For example, when a photo containing a GPS tag has been taken before a series of images, Smart GPS Sync will transfer the location data from the first tagged image it finds to the next photos. It will do so until it finds another image containing GPS data, etc. The images that you shot before the first photo containing location data will not be assigned a GPS tag.

You can use the second mode when you have a tagged image taken after a series of non-tagged photographs.
This transmission mode is the opposite of the previous one. In this case images shot at the very end of a timeframe may remain untagged.

The third mode “fixes” the first two. Here, you obtain geotags from the nearest shot. Every untagged image will receive location data from the tagged image chronologically closest to it. Lacking well-defined series of consecutively tagged images that would match the previous two modes, I tested Smart GPS Sync in this mode and I can only say it works fast — even with close to a thousand photos at a time!

To extract location data from those tagged images that have been shot a specific time before or after an untagged one (or series), you can set a time limit.

Last but not least, you can tag photos without having a GPS at all. You can define geotags by manually setting latitude/longitude instead of using any of the transmission modes. Existing geotags will be overwritten in this mode, so you need to be careful. Also, if you leave the lat/long fileds empty, any existing geotags will be deleted. Latitude/longitude can be entered as decimal numbers or in degrees, minutes, seconds and as cardinal points. That allows you to copy and paste geodata from Google Maps, Bing Maps, Apple maps, etc, etc.

All data is written to the appropriate EXIF fields of your photographs.

Conclusion

Do you need Smart GPS Sync? If you want to enjoy the benefits of geolocation, you bet you do. GPS receivers don’t work inside buildings or even narrow streets, so you’ll often have untagged images, even if your cameras have GPS features. With Smart GPS Sync, you can add location data in the most accurate way possible, even if none was recorded.

Smart GPS Sync is an inexpensive app too. It only costs some €22.25!

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