iPhone photos missing location accuracy

I recently made an observation with photos taken with an iphone and then uploaded using the iphone app. The location showed an accuracy value of 0 in the app. I thought that was strange, but the pin was in the right place and I thought perhaps it was a rounded value of less than 0.5 metre.

However, when I uploaded the observation, it shows on the site as “Accuracy: Not recorded”. Is it possible that this is happening to observations with accuracy of less than 0.5 m, or is there another explanation?

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Depending upon the app you’re using, it may not be providing an accuracy. My GPS unit doesn’t – I manually add a 5m. accuracy when I upload associated observations.


Thanks Paul. I commonly use the camera app to take photos and then upload them as observations, and this method certainly provided an accuracy value until very recently. Perhaps there has been a change to the way that the iPhone camera app records accuracy, although I have not updated the iOS in recent days. The problem is reproducible.

To add some more info, if I make an observation within the iNaturalist app, it records an accuracy value. If I take a photo with the default iPhone camera app and then use that photo to create an observation, the accuracy value is 0. I believe this behaviour has changed within the last week or so. If I take a photo in the iNaturalist app and then pull it from “all photos” to make an observation, it comes with an accuracy value. I am therefore reasonably confident that this is an Apple bug, not an iNaturalist bug. Nevertheless, it’s one with serious repercussions for iNaturalist, as it means many observations made from now on will lack accuracy values.

I am using an iphone 5s, iOS version 12.4.1, and iNaturalist version 2.8.1, build 538. I will try updating the iOS to 12.4.2 and see if that helps. Update: it doesn’t. Problem persists in iOS 12.4.2.

I would be interested to know if others can replicate this issue.


Can you please send one of these photos with no accuracy value to help@inaturalist.org?

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Update on this issue: it is still occurring in the latest updated version of the iOS app (2.8.4). However, if I upload the same photos using the web interface, the accuracy value is recorded. For now, therefore, I am no longer using the app.

Is this of any assistance, particularly the section titled “Important information for owners of iPhone 5”?

Thanks for sharing that, Ralph. My device is updated to iOS version 12.4.2, so I don’t think that is the problem. The GPS is working fine and the locations are accurate - it’s just that the accuracy value saved in the image metadata is not being imported into the iNaturalist app.

I think this is a pretty common problem with a lot of records that are entered by importing geo-tagged photos, whether they were taken with a smartphone or camera. I’m not sure whether this is because the device did not record accuracy or if something is happening when iNaturalist reads the photo’s exif data.

In fact, doing a query reveals that there are 6.5 million verifiable records in iNaturalist (22.5 % of ALL VERIFIABLE) with coordinates but without accuracy. Most of these records are very hard to use for any conservation purpose because it’s impossible to have any idea how accurate the location is.

Here’s the query:

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Thanks Mike, I had no idea that lack of accuracy values affects so much of the database. I hope the developers can put this on their agenda - perhaps best to add other ideas to this thread.

In my case, the device is recording accuracy, which iNaturalist is reading when photos are uploaded via the site, but not when the same photos are uploaded using the app. This behaviour has changed recently - up until a month or so ago, the iNaturalist app would also read the accuracy values.

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FWIW, I geotag the photos I take with my “real” camera using this method, and so far I haven’t been able to find any geotagging program that automatically uses horizontal accuracy from a GPX file (if that’s even recorded?). Thus, about 19k of my observations lack horizontal accuracy data.

If you go to the observers list of your search I think pretty much all of the top observers - outside of Questagame - use dedicated cameras and likely have similar workflows to me, or have cameras with built-in GPS that don’t record accuracy data.

EDIT: I’ll also add that I use a Garmin eTrex 20 and when I check horizontal accuracy while out on a hike, it’s usually in the 2-5m range, depending on topography and cover.

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Interesting! Has anyone come across a geotagging program that uses horizontal accuracy? Or an SLR that records such data? It seems that GPX format can record hdop, which is related to precision, but it’s not really set up well for this. I find this a staggering oversight.

I’m still interested in hearing about whether there are plans to restore the previous behaviour in the iOS app that transferred precision values to observations - can anyone confirm whether the bug I described is replicable or only affects me?

No one else has written in about it. Alex, our iOS developer, is taking a look. I sent him the photo you sent to us, @deboas.

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Many thanks, Tony!

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@deboas is this still happening for you? I experienced this lack of horizontal uncertainty with photos taken some months ago but it hadn’t been a problem for recent photos. I’m running iOS 13.3.1 and iNat v 2.8.7.

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Hi Carrie! It is still happening for me, as of today. I have iOS 12.4.5 and iNat 2.8.7. I have an older model (5s) iphone so won’t be able to update to iOS 13. To be clear, the default camera app is recording horizontal accuracy when I take photos, and I can upload them via the website which captures this, but accuracy is not captured when selecting a photo from the library in the iOS app.


This is still happening to me as well. I have iOS 12.4.9 on an iPhone 6 with iNat app version 3.0.6. Sounds like the iphone 6 and anything below will not get iOS13 support in the future.
The photos all have the right data and will include accuracy when uploaded via the web, but will not include accuracy if using the phone app when images are pulled from photo library. If I use the in app camera feature the image will have accuracy data associated but not if you choose from the library.
Currently using batch edit afterward to add accuracy data back in.


I’m having this problem too, with an iPhone 7 plus running iOS 14.4. Very frustrating and makes the app worthless if I have to manually set the location for an observation because the app won’t grab the location data embedded in the photos.