Location is incorrect in phone app

Please fill out the following sections to the best of your ability, it will help us investigate bugs if we have this information at the outset. Screenshots are especially helpful, so please provide those if you can.

Platform (Android, iOS, Website):

App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings or About):

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) :

URLs (aka web addresses) of any relevant observations or pages:

Screenshots of what you are seeing (instructions for taking a screenshot on computers and mobile devices: https://www.take-a-screenshot.org/):

Description of problem (please provide a set of steps we can use to replicate the issue, and make as many as you need.):

Step 1: Phone: Pixel 7 pro

Step 2: iNat version 1.29.2

Step 3: I am on the coast of Maine, in Sorrento, on Frenchman Bay. Often when I take a picture in the app, it places me on the other side of the bay, 4-5 miles away. Is it using cell towers for location? If I didn’t notice and change the location, the data would be all wrong.


it would be helpful to see more information, including screenshots, etc.

you might check to see if your affected observations are obscured. in such a case, the observations may look like they’re mapped incorrectly in some cases, but it may just be the obscuration functionality working normally.

the this is occurring on non-obscured observations, then are you talking about the location of the observation? or are you talking about the location that gets attached to the metadata of the image file itself?

as far as i can tell, if you’re taking a photo in the Android iNat app (as opposed to your own camera app) and creating an observation at the same time, the Android iNat app should attempt to get your location by doing several location samples until it can achieve <=10m accuracy. so if that’s the situation, whatever the problem is should be related to your own device (hardware) and/or the conditions in which it’s trying to determine location.

if you’re using your own camera app to take the photos and loading them into the Android app, or if you’re not looking at the observation location but rather the location attached to the photo snapped in either your camera app or the Android app, then if the location is almost always off, then what’s probably happening is that you’ve disabled precise location permissions for your camera app. otherwise, probably your location just isn’t being determined very precisely sometimes. this could happen for several reasons, but it can often occur when you’ve just turned on your phone or the location services for your phone, and it hasn’t had long enough time to get an accurate location; or if you’ve traveled from a location, and your phone isn’t updating your location frequently, in which case it’ll get the location from wherever your were previously.

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I am taking photos in the app. The map that appears with the observation does not reflect a place where I am nor where I have recently been, it is a place across the bay. This usually happens where I am near the bay. If I click on the icon for my current location, then the pin moves to where I am. Would it help to do a screen shot of the incorrect and then the correct locations?
I don’t know how to obscure observations and have not done anything like that.

you might want to try taking a photo just with your regular camera app and see what location is attached to the photo.

based on the workflow you’re describing, i don’t think the issue is the iNat app. it sounds like your phone is just having trouble capturing locations for whatever reason. i’ve heard anecdotes of folks getting unreliable locations near the shore sometimes, though i’m unsure of what kind of physics would cause that.

it would be helpful to see an example of an observation that has a bad location and which you have not corrected. seeing this, it will be possible to see whether the observation has been obscured, and if not, it will be possible to see the location calculated by the iNat observation vs. the location captured in the photo exif.


Here are two screen shots. One shows a location in Bar Harbor, which showed up on the map when I took a photo in the app. The other shows a location on Pond Rd in Sorrento, which is were I was. I got this map by clicking on location icon.

you’re not really providing what i asked for:

i need to see the actual uncorrected observation, not just a screenshot. please provide an observation id or a date / time + taxon for the observaton.

Here is another map just so you can see where I was in relation to where the app said I was.

Sorry, I already corrected the location in the observation. I can send you one with the incorrect map if I get another one. But how will you know where it was really supposed to be?

just to reiterate, i will need the actual observation (id) so that i can examine it, not just a screenshot.

i need to see what the coordinates + accuracy value are recorded on the observation, versus the coordinates recorded in the image metadata. this will indicate whether the problem is related to the phone’s ability to determine the location, or if it’s related to workflow, or if it’s related to the iNat app itself.

just based on the information you’ve provided so far, it sounds like it’s a workflow issue, specifically:

… but it’s hard to tell for sure without examining the actual observation.

you can just make a note about where the actual location is supposed to be, either in a post here or as text in the description on the observation.

Observation # 172861953, July 14 at 12:15 pm. Shows Bar Harbor when the observation was taken in Sorrento.

go to your Android home screen, find the iNaturalist app icon, and long press it (press and hold down). when the app menu pops up, tap on App Info, then Permissions, and then Location.

in the Location Permission settings for the iNat app, do you have the Use Precise Location option toggled on or off?


what i see in your observation is that the coordinates captured in the metadata in your photos puts them in Sorrento, near where Ocean Ave forks into Ocean + Kearsarge Ave. (this means that your phone’s default camera app is getting the correct location that Android determines periodically while location services are turned on.)

but the location saved in your observation appears to be the same as the location you captured previously in your screenshot above:

besides the coordinates being far away from the coordinates captured in the photos, the other strange thing about this particular location is that it’s reporting the accuracy value to be exactly 2500m, which is an oddly round number for an accuracy value derived from an actual calculation of your location.

the way the iNat app should normally calculate your location is that once you’ve captured the first photo and returned to the observation input screen, the app should start trying to narrow down your location. normally, the app should automatically keep refining the location until it reaches an accuracy value of 10m or less, unless that process is interrupted. the fact that your value is much greater than 10m suggests that if the location was determined via this process, it was interrupted. but then it’s still an odd location because your first photo already puts you in Sorrento, and it would be strange that the app would then start calculating your location in Bar Harbor (as opposed to somewhere near Ocean and Kearsarge Ave).

the oddly round 2500m accuracy value suggests that the location was not picked by you searching for a place by name. so then my only thoughts are either:

  • Android is somehow giving your iNat app an approximate location while giving your camera app a precise location (but it would be weird that in your earlier post you indicated that it was able to then get your precise location when you clicked on the current location button), or
  • you’re somehow setting the location based on some sort of saved pinned location. (i’m not sure how this would even happen from the app unless you’re using some sort of strange workflow to create the observation though.)


if your iNat app was set to get a precise location, and you don’t have a saved location at Bar Harbor, then my only other suggestion is to get log the log file for 14 July 2023, and send that to help@inaturalist.org, referencing this forum thread. you can create a log file by going to the About screen in the iNat app, and tapping 3 times on the version number that you see on that screen.