Eye-Fi has extended its line of Wi-Fi-enabled memory cards with the $60 Geo model, which combines support for iPhoto with geotagging – the addition of geographic coordinates to a photo – at a relatively low price. The location data works with iPhoto ’09’s Places feature to position photos on a map. Eye-Fi sells a line of cards from $50 to $150 with varying features; this model will be available only from the online and retail Apple Stores.
The Geo automatically either transfers images to a folder on your Mac or imports the pictures into iPhoto. For an extra $10 per year, the Geo can be upgraded to upload images over the Internet to photo-sharing services, including MobileMe and Flickr. Eye-Fi also sells a model with local and Internet photo uploading and geotagging; it costs a flat $100, and also provides video uploads.
The Eye-Fi firmware originally uploaded every photo you took to a computer or an online service. A software update earlier this year lets you use the protect or lock feature that’s available in most digital cameras to select which pictures to upload (see “Eye-Fi Pro Card Adds Raw Uploads, Computer Transfers,” 2009-06-10).
Eye-Fi embeds a Wi-Fi radio and a processor into a Secure Digital (SD) card. The Geo sports 2 GB of storage; other models have as much as 4 GB. The Eye-Fi has to be configured with the company’s software while mounted on a computer, but can then automatically connect to networks you’ve programmed it to recognize and for which you provided Wi-Fi passwords.
The geotagging feature relies on Skyhook Wireless’s system for associating a snapshot of Wi-Fi network identifiers and signal strengths with latitude and longitude – it’s not using GPS and thus will work only when you’re within range of a Wi-Fi network that Skyhook has mapped. Skyhook’s system underpins the Wi-Fi positioning feature in iPhone OS 1.1.3 and later, and is used in various Mac OS X, Windows, and Android software as well. (See “Loki Here,” 2007-06-18, for background on Skyhook’s system.)
We’ve written about Eye-Fi extensively because of its Mac support. Adam Engst wasn’t fond of the Eye-Fi features as of a year ago – see “Why I Hate the Eye-Fi Share Wireless SD Card,” 2008-08-18 – while I was generally positive – see “Why I Like the Eye-Fi Explore Wireless SD Card,” 2008-08-18. Newer software and hardware have modified our opinions slightly.