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3G iPhone to have GPS and Pics with geo-tagging


Apple iPhone image

If you’ve taken lots of camera photos with your iPhone and later wondered where they were taken, the new iPhone software could solve that problem. According to news reports, the iPhone Software 2.0 update will offer location-based photo-tagging which the user can turn on and off.

Geo-tagging adds location data to a photo or other media, often using a mobile device’s Global Positioning System (GPS) function. GPS is not in the current iPhone, but it is expected to be part of an upcoming 3G iPhone. However, the current iPhone can approximate a user’s location by triangulating with cell phone towers.

The updated software will ask a user, after taking a picture, if they want it tagged with the geographical location. The software update is not scheduled to be released to iPhone owners until June, but it has reportedly been released already to enterprise partners, and geo-tagging is among the new features. The 2.0 firmware is scheduled to be released at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco in early June.

According to a report from a technology blog earlier week, the 3G version of the iPhone will also be announced at the WWDC, as part of the keynote address on June 9 by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. That report also meshes with a recent report by investment bank Piper Jaffray, which surveyed Apple stores earlier this month and found a diminishing inventory of iPhones. A selldown of inventory would typically happen right before a new product launch.

The location-based metadata can include latitude and longitude coordinates and the countries or cities when the photo was taken. When the photo is imported into an application, either on the desktop or the Web, the locations where the photos were taken can then be shown as dots on a map, auto-organized by country, or searched by city name.

Geo-tagging also raises possibilities for all kinds of home-grown storytelling, by one friend to another as well as by gamers. Some visionaries are predicting that, as geo-tagged photos and video become commonplace, social networks will begin to develop new interactions based on them, and their use might be included in online role-playing games.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that geo-tagging was a feature “we’re seeing a lot more of,” such as in Nokia devices. He added that, at the moment, many of the uses for geo-tagging of photos were “a bit geeky,” like uploading vacation photos to a social networking site and having your trip automatically plotted on a map that shows where you took pictures.

But, going forward, he said he expected geo-tagging to become “fairly common” for digital cameras and camera-phones, with applications that use them expanding in their appeal.

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