Seek by iNat strips the geolocation from saved photos on iPhone

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): iOS

App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings or About): 2.13.3

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:

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: Make an observation with Seek (GPS location is there)

Step 2: Post to iNaturalist (GPS location is there, EXIF info like Camera e.g. iPhone lost)

Step 3: Download the photo saved by Seek on iPhone to the Mac (No GPS location or EXIF info like Camera e.g. iPhone lost)


I use Seek by iNat a lot and like it, but one think it is very problematic: the observation photos saved by Seek on the iPhone and which I always like to import on my Mac in my photo library are missing:

  • GPS location
  • EXIF information

and have the wrong time / time zone as well.

A more minor thing is that the photos saved by Seek are more narrow then what the original iPhone camera took.

The GPS location gets posted by Seek to iNaturalist, if I choose to post the observation. So it is not a GPS or signal issue. I absolutely have the GPS info with the observation / photo. It just gets discarded for some bizarre reason.

I can only image that Seek does that to the saved observation photos on iOS and I hope this issue can be looked into and fixed.


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Seek is designed with user anonymity in mind. It is likely that the removal of metadata is intentional.
The size difference might be a bug.
Even photos uploaded to iNaturalist are stripped of most metadata, which is saved separately and associated with the relevant image file.


Seek in Android does save EXIF data (including location) to the photos it creates, but Seek in iOS does not as it’s more difficult to do so and we haven’t considered it a priority (although I agree it would be great if it did that, but Seek isn’t really designed as an avenue for one to consistently post to iNat). So it’s not really a bug as it’s intentional.

One caveat: Seek doesn’t get your precise location, so the location saved with the photo is likely not exactly where you took the photo.

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Ah, maybe thats why when I went to identify observations without locations from the link in frequent responses, many of them had Seek logos.

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Sorry I didn’t answer this previously, but basically we have to use a different API (different from our standard app, that is) to access the iPhone’s camera because we need to analyze the feed frame by frame. However, those decisions were made a few years ago when we added the live ID functionaly and might need to be looked at again. Either way, it’s intentional and not a bug, just a little weird.

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Thanks for the info and detail.

For most life, especially animals, I always upload images of high quality taken from my cameras. But while hiking, travelling etc, I find Seek very useful for identifying plants, insects and mushrooms, so for these observations I use it extensively.

It would be amazing if the iOS version could keep the original photo, without stripping the EXIF. I don’t really care about anonymity. A good observation, useful for science, should have a precise location, especially when using Seek and iNat together. iNat can hide endangered species afterwards.

And for photography learning, I find the EXIF info on iNat very useful, especially camera make, model, focal length etc, so losing that info, even if it comes from a phone camera and Seek to iNat, it’s not very useful.

If anonymity is of concern to some people, including hiding their camera models and GPS info, I would suggest an option in the Seek user profile: “Keep anonymity by stripping EXIF from saved photo / photo posted to iNat”.

Thanks again