Occasional error in iPhone photo geotags: flipped longitude

I am using the web uploader to add photos taken using an iphone. Most of the time, the location is added automatically from the photo metadata without problem. However, I have now several times noticed an observation with a flipped longitude.

In the following case, the correct longitude is 35.875 degrees West, or -35.875 (in Brazil). However, the photo is being imported as if it were 35.875 degrees East (in Tanzania), i.e. missing the minus sign. When I edit the longitude to include the minus sign, the observation is plotted once more in the correct location.

I have not noticed a pattern as to which observations are suffering this problem. It’s not happening with most of them! I haven’t seen the equivalent happen with latitude yet.

EDIT: the location is shown correctly on the iphone, but the minus sign is missing in the file transferred to my computer. Therefore, I believe this is a problem that’s occurring outside of iNaturalist, during the transfer from iphone to computer.

I noticed this at one point with some of my iPhone photos, maybe around two years ago. I think it had something to do with photos syncing across more than one Apple device in iCloud. Might that be the case for you?

In my case, I transferred them using Airdrop from iphone to macbook, and uploaded from there. So something is happening when they transfer. It’s a bit strange!

So odd, and definitely frustrating! I think this squarely an Apple problem though, so I’m going to edit the subject to reflect that.

Googling around, there have unfortunately been variations of this problem of error in coordinates mapping to the wrong place for a long time:

2008 - https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2008/07/careful-with-that-iphone-or-you-might-end-up-in-kazakhstan/
2009 - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1886558
2016 - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7584936
2018 - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8284616

For me I think it was photos from Brazil showing up in Madagascar due to the sign error in longitude. I had two iPhones and an iPad mini all synced to the same Apple ID, and when I looked at some of the images on a different device, they mapped across the world. I wish I’d done a better job at the time of documenting the problem. It just seemed like getting someone at Apple to pay attention would be nearly futile.

Hoping I got all the right keywords in this thread to help it show up when someone else tries to google why are my iphone photos showing up in the wrong hemisphere or continent when transferred to another device ;-)

Thanks Carrie, I will try to follow up with Apple and report back if I make any progress. As this is not an iNat bug, I think this thread can be closed.

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