Writing GPS information to a JPEG

One of the handy things about the JPEG format is the ability to store meta-data inside the image using EXIF. There are a few libraries out there for the various programming languages that can help you out with this, and Android actually has something built in to the SDK - the class ExifInterface.

Google’s documentation on writing latitude and longitude to a JPEG are a bit light on details - they loosely hint at the format that latitude or longitude should have. (See the documentation for ExifInterface.TAG_GPS_LATITUDE). The API itself is pretty straight forward, but what Google doesn’t tell you is HOW the GPS coordinates should encoded.

There are a few articles out there that explain the different ways latitude and longitude may be expressed. You might want to quickly read one of these articles to familiarize yourself with the different formats.

EXIF expects GPS coordinates to be encoded using geographical coordinates (degrees/minutes/seconds). There is Wikipedia article that explains how to do the conversion and provides a Java sample. For the C# types in the crowd, here is an extension method that will convert a double to the DMS format that EXIF expects:

public static class GpsHelpers
    public static string ToDMS(this double coord)
        // gets the modulus the coordinate divided by one (MOD1).
        // in other words gets all the numbers after the decimal point.
        // e.g. mod = 87.728056 % 1 == 0.728056
        // next get the integer part of the coord. On other words the whole number part.
        // e.g. intPart = 87
        var mod = coord % 1;
        var intPart = (int)coord;

        //set degrees to the value of intPart
        //e.g. degrees = "87"
        var degrees = intPart.ToString();

        // next time the MOD1 of degrees by 60 so we can find the integer part for minutes.
        // get the MOD1 of the new coord to find the numbers after the decimal point
        // e.g. coord = 0.728056 * 60 == 43.68336
        //      mod = 43.68336 % 1 == 0.68336
        // next get the value of the integer part of the coord.
        // e.g. intPart = 43
        coord = mod * 60;
        mod = coord % 1;
        intPart = (int)coord;
        // set minutes to the value of intPart
        // e.g. minutes = "43"
        var minutes = intPart.ToString();
        //do the same again for minutes
        //e.g. coord = 0.68336 * 60 == 41.0016
        //e.g. intPart = 41
        coord = mod * 60;
        intPart = (int)coord;

        // set seconds to the value of intPart.
        // e.g. seconds = "41"
        var seconds = intPart.ToString();
        var output = String.Format("{0}/1,{1}/1,{2}/1", degrees, minutes, seconds);
        return output;

This next C# code snippet will show you how to use ExifInterface to write/update the GPS information to your JPG:

var exif = new ExifInterface("path to file");
exif.SetAttribute(ExifInterface.TagGpsProcessingMethod, "GPS");

// the variable latitude is a double that has been initialized elsewhere.
exif.SetAttribute(ExifInterface.TagGpsLatitude, latitude.ToDMS());
exif.SetAttribute(ExifInterface.TagGpsLatitudeRef, latitude > 0 ? "N" : "S");

// The variable longitude is a double that has been initialized elsewhere.
exif.SetAttribute(ExifInterface.TagGpsLongitude, graffiti.Longitude.ToDMS());
exif.SetAttribute(ExifInterface.TagGpsLongitudeRef, graffiti.Longitude > 0 ? "E" : "W");