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I am just wondering if by allowing access to Photos, the application has access to read the EXIF metadata (including where the photo was taken and stuff like that).

Is that possible?

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Yes, the app will have access to the full image data including the EXIF metadata that could contain for example GPS location amongst other things.

On the contrary if you're using a web app and uploading photos to it, the EXIF metadata will automatically be stripped by Safari before giving it to the web app.

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  • Is there any reference to support that? Also, why would Instagram request location access to detect the location instead of using the image metadata? Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 14:31
  • Yes, plenty of references exist. Your example is a different situation because the photo library is much different than taking a photo within an app. In order to get the precise location in the latter situation, the app needs GPS access itself.
    – jksoegaard
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 14:38
  • They eventually implemented this in the latest versions: even if Instagram doesn't have access to Location services, it will reverse-geocode the location based on the EXIF data of the photo. Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 13:41

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