05
Sep
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Every version of Android has launched with at least one headlining feature. As any true fan would know, the 4.2 camera brought with it a very cool new mode called Photospheres. While the initial hype has dropped off, the popularity of photospheres still continues to grow, thanks in part to improvements in image quality and the addition of a Maps-based community designated for sharing the immersive images. We don't always want a location attached to our regular pictures, but it's pretty rare when we don't want our photospheres to be geotagged. After all, they are usually taken in public, wide-open spaces. Unfortunately, since updating to Android 4.3, quite a few people have found their photospheres lack geotagged coordinates.

As it turns out, there is an oversight in the latest Camera app that results in a failure to attach coordinates to the photosphere metadata as long as the device is set to a language other than English. As reported in the Issue Tracker, a number of languages cause the lack of data, but changing the phone's system language to English ensures that it works properly. Furthermore, switching back to any other language returns it to the buggy state. It's worth acknowledging that English may not be the only language to not suffer this bug, but nobody has come forward with another.

2013-09-05 17.09.362013-09-05 17.09.492013-09-05 17.10.01

Workarounds for the issue are a bit sparse, but they are at least simple. The first and most obvious is to switch to English under Settings -> Language & input -> Language, but anybody affected by this bug probably prefers their native tongue, so it isn't really ideal for most people. As an alternative, it's quite simple to use 3rd party tools to markup your images with coordinates. Apps like GeoTag and services like Google's own Photosphere generator make it simple to attach location data to the image after it has been generated.

Surprisingly, this issue has yet to be acknowledged by Google, despite being first reported just over a month ago. Given that the glitches occur on something as obscure as a locale setting, it's likely to be a very simple fix once an engineer has time for it. While a little missing data in photospheres are certainly not as critical as some of the other issues covered in previous Bug Watch posts, it's disappointing that an important component of this headlining feature hasn't received a bit more attention. Like all bugs, we expect to see this one knocked out pretty soon.

[AOSP Issue Tracker]

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Toblerone

    I KNEW IT! :D Found out a couple of weeks ago that geo-tagging didn't work on Photo Spheres (couldn't upload to Google Maps) :D

  • mlj11

    Nice find. I totally agree that it's not that important software-wise, but it's is an extremely embarrassing bug to plague what should be an international audience-reaching, headlining feature.

    • Pierre Gardin

      There's a lot of bugs in Android (and other software) that comes from bad localization. Good RTL languages support was only added in 4.2 and the stock calculator still doesn't use localized decimal separator, you still have to manually tell Agenda when a week is supposed to start in your country, lots of labels overlap in play store in non-English languages, the stock keyboard supports only one language at a time...

    • Pierre Gardin

      And Google Maps indicates both miles and kilometers in the scale, which is confusing.

  • Merri Mogridge

    It seems pretty random for me. I'm running 4.2 with the 4.3 camera and I've noticed some photosphere's have the location data and some don't. Two taken on Tuesday had no location data whereas two taken yesterday (Wednesday) did. My language has been set to English (UK) the whole time.

  • rasty++

    "That's a problem that some Spanish users found in Google Maps app: when we want to choose a point in the map, Google Maps considers that lat/long has a Spanish decimal separator, so the point is 42,093735,3,615242 instead of 42.093735,3.615242 and Google Maps doesn't find it, gives an error.

    Since May, we can't see a location shared from whatsapp if our mobile language is Spanish but works perfectly in English.

    Therefore, we can't share any point in the map because Google Maps send null instead of the link of the point.

    It's very annoying since May... The problem is not Android 4.3, it's the new Google Maps 7"

    * Rafa Ramírez in G+

    • Leonardo Baez

      oh taht is why then....

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    On the plus side.... Android doesn't crash when encountering a certain string of unicode text.... so there is that :)

  • anywherehome

    Poor bug proof system has the huge non flexible moloch Google

    Just look at the android g+ app.....disaster