Metadata from Google Photos not importing (Android)

When I select photos from Google Photos, the date/time and location is not being imported with the photo.

This applies to photos being imported from the cloud, as opposed photos stored on the local device.

This problem has been occurring for at least a few months.

What do you mean by “cloud” - Google Photos? Can you walk us through the process, using screenshots? It would also be helpful if you can send one of these photos to

I infer this means the photo is no longer locally stored on the local device (phone, desktop). Is this perhaps related to:

Also, do you have the “Remove geo location” setting on or off in the Google Photos app? Does the iNaturalist app have the permission to access your photos, location, and storage?

It might be. Other consequences of our lack of Google verification have begun manifesting this week. As usual, Google is a bit opaque regarding why things work in some places and not others.

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I have the same problem too. Google Photos automatically uploads photos from your phone to its cloud. You can then choose to have Photos remove all photos from your phone that it’s ‘safely backed up.’ When I upload photos that are still on my phone, [most of the time] all the info appears. When I have Photos remove the photos first, then try to upload, all of the data is missing and I have to manually input it. The app has all the permissions and I’m pretty sure that I don’t have ‘Remove geo location’ checked- after I remove the photos from my phone, they still have the time and location on Google Photos (both web and app).


On certain Android devices (such as the Pixel), Google Photos is the gallery app for both photos stored on the smartphone as well as those photos which have been moved to the cloud. The reason I’m mentioning this is that whilst for Google Photos users, the steps required to Share an image with iNaturalist are the identical whether the original image is on the phone or Google Photos servers, different processes are occurring in the backend

This setting is set to OFF

Yes, iNaturalist app has full permissions

I just thought I’d follow up on this: I’ve noticed that location information from the photos in Google Photos seems to not transfer to iNaturalist when Google Photos reports that the location is “estimated location”, which I guess, means that it is an approximate location, derived from triangulation using cell phone towers and wifi hotspots, I guess.

I have found the location of photos marked as “estimated location” within Google Photos to be quite inaccurate, ie, +/- 1km or more, in some cases.

This might be why the location doesn’t transfer across for these photos.

I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.

This is 100% true:

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I think that is a separate issue, though. Even if the photo has a [non estimate] location, as long as it is not on the phone, the location won’t import.

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I’m not sure if this is a bug, or some feature that I’m not fully understanding - but for the past year or two autofill has been working fine. Over this past weekend I took a few hundred photos in an area where I had no cell service on my phone, but the images still have the GPS tag and time so I planned to upload them later when I got home.

I uploaded maybe 2 dozen of the photos and the autofill of the location / time worked as expected - but then for whatever reason - I started getting to certain unaltered photos that wouldn’t autofill the time / location in the Android app. Downloading those images on my computer and using a browser interface to upload them worked as I expected and the autofill was populated. I’ve only found this issue affecting photos taken that one day so far. Photos taken today are autofilling correctly.

Assuming I have a strong internet connection, are there reasons that I don’t understand that would cause the app to fail to autofill the Time / Location? e.g. Is there some metadata flag that gets set when there is no Cell service that prevents iNaturalist app from auto-filling?

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Just wanted to add this further observation that I discovered this afternoon - The photo fails to autofill properly when I try to import it from Google Photos - however if I download the photo to my device, and upload from a folder using the android app - the fields autofill properly. So this appears to be (for me at least) an issue with autofill with imports from Google Photos

Google photos is how I’ve imported 100% of my photos in the past however, so I’m unsure why it’s failing in this circumstance.

Thanks for following up with more information. It can also often be helpful to list the version of the iNat app that you are using as well as screenshots, such as the photo metadata in the Google Photos app.

It sounds like this might be a duplicate of an existing report: ?

I just tried taking a photo with location turned on, then opened the Google Photos app and shared it to the iNaturalist app. The date, time, and location all filled correctly.

I looked for an older photo, one that wasn’t on the device, but that I knew had GPS coordinates (I put them there manually from a separate camera), and I imported that from Google Photos into iNat. The date and time came through, but the location did not.

This was on a Pixel 3 using version 1.17.1 (390) of the Android app.

I’m also on a Pixel 3 using version 1.15.2 (387). I’m not sure why I don’t see the 1.17.1 version available as an update unless I have to download it manually somewhere?

I would agree that this question now does indeed seem like a duplicate to the one you linked. I think I may be encountering this bug all of the sudden because after uploading 24 or so observations, I took a break and in the interim I think I may have inadvertently “Freed up space” by selecting to remove photos already backed up to the cloud. Then when importing subsequent photos from that day, the time / location wasn’t being filled properly as described in the link you provided.

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I’m in the beta testing program, if you’re interested you can opt in here:

I’ll merge these two topics. Hopefully it’s something that can be addressed on iNat’s side and isn’t stuck on Google’s end…

I don’t know if related, but when I use the Android app on my Samsung Galaxy S7, and import local photos, sometimes the location is not imported. Then, if I open iNaturalist with a web browser, go to that same observation, hit edit, then simply check the sync box next to the photos, then save, often it will find the location, but not always.

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