Location Tracking


Today’s Question: You showed a technique for using the GPS in your phone to provide locations for pictures, by using synchronized times (adjusting for time zones). What app are you using on the phone? When I travel to a foreign country, what settings do I need to be sure to have set correctly so that my phone’s GPS works but I’m not hit with lots of extra data or phone charges?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I use an app called “GPSTrack”, which is only available for the iPhone and iPad. And when traveling internationally I recommend that you not enable “airplane mode”, because doing so will disable your GPS receiver. Instead, I recommend turning of the cellular data and other features so that you don’t have to worry about international voice and data charges but can still take advantage of the GPS receiver in your mobile device.

More Detail: To be sure, one of the easiest ways to avoid a surprisingly high cellular phone bill after an international trip is to set your mobile device to “airplane mode” so that all of the cellular features are disabled. Unfortunately, using this approach also disables the GPS antenna in your mobile device, so you cannot take advantage of GPS tagging for photos captured with that device, and cannot use apps such as GPSTrack to record a track log that can be synchronized with your photos later.

Therefore, my recommendation is to become familiar with the configuration settings for your mobile device, so you can disable the cellular features that can lead to high data charges without disabling the GPS receiver that enables the option to record location information with photos captured on a mobile device or through the use of a track log.

In the case of the iPhone, for example, you can go into the Cellular section of the Settings app and disable Cellular Data as well as Roaming. By doing so, you can ensure you will not incur charges for cellular data, while still being able to track your location using the GPS receiver built into your phone.