Thankyouthankyouthankyou Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith for leading the way to that holy grail of Nokia N95 usership: No-fuss uploads of just-taken, automatically geotagged photos to my Flickr account, viewable live by anyone via Google Maps while I’m still in the field taking pictures.
The hero of Andrew’s story is a wonderful application named ShoZu, which I think is destined for fame and fortune as more of these kinds of phones go on sale.
Basically, ShoZu is a conduit between all the photos and videos on your phone and the myriad of web services you can post them to. It does this by remembering your userids and passwords for each service, and then publishing the content you select via that service’s API. It’s free.
You can post images, video and/or text directly to Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, Vox, LiveJournal, Google’s Picasaweb, YouTube, Blip.tv, Windows Live Spaces, Flickr and many more lesser known services, some of which sound quite intriguing (like Qipit).
You can also send stuff to an email address, to an FTP server, or — and this is just amazing — the BBC or CNN, in case the submission is newsworthy. To publish content, you can either use your phone account’s data connection (which may be expensive), or you can wait until you get within range of wifi.
As Andrew notices, Shozu has an option that automatically adds coordinate data to the photos you take if a GPS fix is available. Currently on the N95, you need to “hotwire” the GPS tracking by running another program that turns it on, like the built-in maps program or Nokia’s free Sports Tracker. An upcoming version of ShoZu will be able to turn on the GPS tracking module all by itself, writes a ShoZu developer in a comment to Andrew’s post.
When you upload a georeferenced picture to Flickr with ShoZu, it is automatically geotagged, which of course means that it is viewable on Flickr’s own map, but also via your own personal GeoRSS feed. While Flickr’s map functionality is lovely, it lacks high resolution imagery in areas crucial to me (Sweden, Egypt, Belgium), so instead I subscribe to the feed using Google Maps’s support for GeoRSS. Here is my newly minted Google Maps geotagged Flickr feed. Notice how accurate the GPS fixes are — indeed, to within 10 meters in every case. (I’m not sure why I’m getting duplicate items at the moment, though.)
So what are the next steps for seeing this service become more seamless?
I’m hoping that Shozu will soon support Panoramio. This would also solve another problem: There is currently no easy free way to subscribe to my georeferenced Flickr photos in Google Earth, because Google Earth does not currently support GeoRSS feed subscriptions, like Google Maps does. (Trippermap does provide a KML feed for a user’s Flickr photos, at $10 per year. I’ll be giving that a try.) Of course, an easier solution would be for Google Earth to support GeoRSS — something which Rev Dan Catt asks for eloquently here:-)
I’d also like to be able to paste an inline Google Map of my Flickr GeoRSS feed onto my website. Perhaps Flickr could offer feed options, filtering for just the most recent 10 pictures or two weeks’ worth of photos or so — something which will have people coming back for more. (Or perhaps Feedburner could get GeoRSS support so I can roll my own feeds.)
It would also be nice if Picasaweb were to become geospatially enabled. You can use Google’s standalone photo management program, Picasa, to geotag photos with Google Earth, but this information is not used when you publish the result to Picasaweb. This is one opportunity for integration between two Google properties — A Google Earth network link from Picasaweb — which hasn’t yet been taken advantage of.
And how about automatically geotagged videos? I noticed this past weekend when uploading my videos of a little protest rally I was at here in Stockholm is that YouTube now asks you (optionally) for the date when the video was taken, and where exactly it was taken. Is Google building a database of georeferenced videos? A geospatially enabled YouTube, perhaps with a default layer in Google Earth if/when inline video arrives to that application, would truly be a stunner. Want to see all the videos taken at a specific football match? You’d just zoom in on the stadium, filter for the specific day, and see the game from as many different angles as there are video uploads.