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iPhoto ’09 and Faces

iLife '09 arrived today. I "paid" only for the free FedEx Ground shipping, but Apple nicely upgraded me to overnight shipping.

SnowmanSo far, I've tagged about 1250 photos ((All of our point-and-shoot images go there, as well as a few thousand I took with my Digital Rebel(s).)) with names, and my random observations are:

  • iPhoto can't identify dogs. Sorry, Flint - but you'll go un-identified in my iPhoto library. No shocker here, though. More of a humorous observation.
  • I attended a Shania Twain concert and downloaded a few hundred photos from that event from Getty Images, as well as from other stops on the same Tour. iPhoto failed to identify her roughly 96% of the time.
  • In fact, I'm somewhat unimpressed by iPhoto's abilities at identifying people. If I identify one person in a blue chair wearing a red shirt, and the next six photos contain a person in a blue chair wearing a red shirt and were taken within 60 seconds of the first, why am I seeing "unknown face" so often?
  • iPhoto doesn't seem to do very well with different facial expressions, slightly over-exposed images, or even faces that are tilted 30° or more.
  • Though iPhoto can't identify dogs (or weimaraners at least), it sometimes identifies bizarre things - jewelry, foliage, a pile of rocks - as faces. Oddly, the PGA (not the PGA Tour) logo was identified as a face in 15 of 16 photos.
  • Resizing the "add missing face" box is backwards: it resizes from the middle by default and resizes from the corner only when you hold down the option key. Bug filed.
  • Why, when I hit cmd-delete on items in the Trash, does it restore them and remove them from the trash?

Make no mistake about it: iPhoto starts off pretty impressively, but the face detection seems to get worse - not better - as it goes on. With 500+ shots of one particular person, it asks me "is this Jane Doe" only about 5-10% of the time - and the 10% is really generous of me.

5 Responses to "iPhoto ’09 and Faces"

  1. Sorry, this is kind of funny. It's facial recognition isn't it? So what do shirts and chairs have to do with anything?

    I'm looking forward to a comparison of iPhoto's and Picasa's facial recognition. Though, I'm not sure there is any easy and objective way to compare them.

    One question I have, does it make it easier to tag people in photos or is there no improvement over typing in part of a tag name?

  2. [quote comment="52475"]It's facial recognition isn't it? So what do shirts and chairs have to do with anything?[/quote]

    I'm not sure why that's funny. If the goal is to identify the people in the photos, time and surroundings are key pieces of that. What users really want is "people recognition," but what we got is "facial recognition" that doesn't work all that well.

    [quote comment="52475"]One question I have, does it make it easier to tag people in photos or is there no improvement over typing in part of a tag name?[/quote]

    Not sure what you mean. I have my keywords set - for many of the more popular people in iPhoto - to one key. I type "n" and keywords are applied for that person's name to all the selected images.

    That probably doesn't answer your question, but again, I'm not sure what you mean.

  3. It doesn't like tilted heads either. Most of the photos where one person is leaning their head on the others shoulder, the vertical face is found, the other is not.

  4. mine detected this: 😯

  5. I've had pretty good luck with it so far. There are a few people who give it a lot of trouble (it almost never recognizes my girlfriend's mother) but there are others whom it always recognizes. Most are somewhere in between, with perhaps 40-60% recognition rates (after training it on a dozen or so pictures of them).

    But I must say that there are a ton of bugs in iPhoto '09. Most of the ones I've seen are cosmetic (such as certain scrollbars always looking disabled) but I'm sure there are more serious ones lurking in there, given how unfinished the product feels (and given past experience with .0 releases of iPhoto)