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iPhone GPS + Your Pictures = Places Sweetness

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 10, 2010 - 8:47pm

A very quick note here as I’m about to start shooting a series of Aperture training videos with Sara France, but I wanted to share my experience with integrating the iPhone’s GPS capability and photos off my Canon (with no GPS capability) in Aperture 3’s awesome new Places feature.

Minimal screenshots for now, sorry… I just don’t have time.

I drove down the coast from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles yesterday. I knew that there was some kind of iPhone GPS integration for Places, but I wasn’t sure how it worked. So along the way I stopped a few times, and shot photos with either my Canon and my iPhone in the same place, or shot just with the Canon (to see if Aperture would figure out the in-between).

When I imported the Canon photos into Aperture, I launched Places and quickly found the “Import GPS from iPhone Photos” command. With my iPhone plugged in, I clicked that button and Aperture automatically found the photos from the same time-range as my shots and presented them for use. That was VERY cool to see. It didn’t even need to import the photos from the iPhone to do this!

It then dropped waypoints on the map of where each iPhone photo was taken. From there, all I had to do was drag the photos shot at the same location onto those waypoints, and they were immediately pinned to that spot.

As for the Canon photos where I didn’t shoot an iPhone picture to match, there’s no interpolation of placement. You do need to manually place those. So then if you want to do this accurately, you’ll need to shoot an iPhone photo at each location you want to tag. Not a big deal, but good to know. Oh and I had one way-off GPS placement from the iPhone, so it’s probably a good idea to ensure that the phone has locked-on to your location before snapping that critical photo (launch Maps first, wait for it to find you, then switch to the Camera and shoot your photo.)

If you have a GPS device that records your tracking points, it’s a whole different (and exceptionally cool) integration. I actually have an old Sony device that I’ll dust off and see if it works. Next time.

Places was one of the features I was most hoping to see, and it looks amazing in here!

Click to open full-size image. Places is awesome in Aperture 3… I’m in heaven! (actually I’m in California, but that’s close!)

Update on February 10, 2010 - 11:41pm by Joseph @ApertureExpert

Someone just pointed out to me that there are GPS tracking apps for the iPhone, meaning you can get the same waypoint data that you’d get from a dedicated GPS reciever, without buying new hardware.

The limitation would be that the iPhone app would have to be running full time, but I’d imagine (and I’m guessing here) that there are apps that will “fill in” missing data if you have to turn off the app for a few minutes (say, to answer a call or check your mail). If there isn’t, there should be!

Anyone with any experience with an app like this, post something in the comments please! Sounds like a great way to go.

Apple Aperture

I originally thought Faces and Places were a strange addition to Aperture - that the amazing (it seems) editing tools would be of much more interest to photographers. But with genius like this I can see the real power in these extra tools now. Likewise addition of Flickr uploads: a small thing, but saves another plugin.

Makes me wonder whether to bother maintaining both iPhoto and Aperture libraries.

David Brewster

It’s interesting; I’ve heard from a lot of pro’s “why would you want Faces or Places”. I’m astounded… for me, I tag pictures with keywords of people that are in them. This will be a huge timesaver. And places allows me to find photos from a region from multiple trips instantly. If Canon ever puts proper GPS on their cameras (like Nikon has… helllllloooooo Canon?!?!), I’ll be über happy!

iPhoto AND Aperture… not anymore my friend, not anymore ;-)

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Oh my. That is very damn cool.

I’ll maintain that I’m no fan of the very basic Flickr uploader that’s been repurposed from iPhoto, but that’s only because I’ve been spoiled by Fraser Speirs’ awesome FlickrExport. It still works, in 32-bit mode, so that’ll hold me over until the FlickrExport upgrade is available.

I just recently switched to Aperture 2, Trialversion. I then importet my iPhoto library which contained tons of geotagged photos. Unfortunately not all of them were tagged with a geologger but separately using iPhoto. So to Aperture 2 these Geotags weren’t transmitted as they were only availalbe in the iPhoto library but not in the exif data of the pic. Bummer.

Now, yesterday I got my copy of Aperture 3. All photos that had been directly tagged through my Geologger were correctly placed within the places feature. But all Pictures I had formerly tagged with iPhoto lost their geo location.

Although I think there’s no way, maybe one of you guys has a clue if there’s ANY way to get those geo-data out of the (still existant) iPhoto library without having to re-import all pics?

Another question: Are the geo-locations that I assign through Aperture 3 written directly to the file or to the library only? File would be preferred.


There is a new command in Aperture 3 which supposedly writes metadata back to the master files, but I remember reading somewhere that it does not work properly.

I have yet to try it, I also prefer to have my metadata inside my masters as opposed to only the aperture database, but if it’s not working now, I’m sure Apple will fix it sometime (in the next decade or so)..

Currently I’m having a horrendous time with Aperture 3, it’s excruciatingly slow as it is eating up all my available memory, and it is doing page-outs by the second….

Sorry to hear that! For me it’s rather fast after it had updated the library and recognized all faces over night.
During face-recognition it’s been almost impossible using the Mac. Now with f.r. finsihed it uses round 1,4GB of RAM on my MBP late 2008. Of couse my library’s presumeably just round one tenth of yours - but that shouldn’t make THAT big difference for Aperture, huh?

What’s with the spam in the References section? I don’t mind getting emails when someone posts a legit comment, but I’m getting emailed when those references are getting posted.


Spammers went crazy-like. Read here to see what I’ve done about it.

Sorry mate… sucks :(
-Joseph @ApertureExpert

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Thanks for the update. It’s a nice site and I appreciate the hard work it you put into it. It sucks you have to deal with that.
Keep up the good work.

With the Aperture 3.0.3 release, Apple added support for extracting GPS info from sidecar XMP files. This makes my iPhone app GeoLogTag a perfect Places companion for Aperture users shooting RAW.
The app supports the most popular RAW formats.
JPEGs already worked before the Aperture update.

App Store


The best press I read was about MotionX-GPS for iPhone which you can configure so that it can instantly share the recorded GPX track file to your preferred e-mail address.

From there you can import it easily in Aperture. 

Ruud Hennequin

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