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I recently took a bunch of pictures around a location, expecting that each picture's precise location would be recorded so I could place them on a map. This has worked before.

What I found when I got home is that all the photos seemed to have the same location (which was slightly southeast of any location I photographed).

I'm wondering if the iPhone camera is now either rounding off geographic coordinates to a lower precision, or giving all photos taken around the same place and same time the same coordinates, or both, and if so, if this is particular to the Camera app or universal to all apps using the camera.

Extra info

This is on an iPhone 6s running 11.2.1. When I've done this before, it would have been on an iPhone 5 running whatever version of iOS would have been current circa January 2016.

  • If you go to the Places album in photos on your iPhone and zoom in as far as possible are they all still in 1) the same location and 2) the wrong location? I've had a look at some photos I took recently on my iPhone 8 running 11.2.1 and it seems pretty accurate. The photos are all however far apart and in the correct places. Also, did you have good signal when you took them? – Andre Jan 7 '18 at 22:49
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    Yes, they're all in the same, wrong location when I zoom all the way in. I can export the images to the Finder, get info on them, and see that they have identical coordinates. I was getting 3-4 bars LTE when I shot them. – Adam Rice Jan 7 '18 at 23:10
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    I just attempted to reproduce this by walking around my block and shooting photos. Geotagging was distinct and pretty good for each photo. I don't have a solution, but for the moment, I am going to write this off as a fluke. – Adam Rice Jan 9 '18 at 21:00
  • Sounds pretty strange yeah... I wish I could actually help, but in those circumstances I have no idea what could have happened. – Andre Jan 10 '18 at 22:52
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Check the GPS time on your photos. This is the time of the GPS fix used to tag your photos. I.e. the time at which iPhone determined your location. It is possible that your iPhone failed to get a GPS fix while you were photographing. In that case it can decide to use the last known location. You would find that all your photos share the same GPS time.

Many possible reasons: High buildings, narrow streets, etc. can sometimes impair GPS reception. The iPhone GPS could have had a software problem that was later resolved by restarting the phone. Your iPhone may have been on low power mode.

I recently hiked Kilimanjaro and had set my iPhone to low power mode while on the mountain. It seems this had the effect of iPhone powering up the GPS much less frequently. I have photos where the GPS fix predates the photo by several hours.

I also saw what I consider to be a bug: iPhone seems to have discarded more recent GPS fixes in favor of better (but older) fixes. I have a few situations where one photo has a rather recent GPS fix and photos taken hours later were tagged with a GPS fix from the previous day!

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