Google has added some interesting features to its Picasa Web Albums that will help users label their photos with the names of subjects. After implementing face detection in the image search engine, Google adds face recognition in Picasa Web Albums to facilitate photo tagging.
The “name tag” feature presents users with collections of photos with what it judges to be the same person, then lets them click a button to affix a name. Once photographic subjects are named, users can browse an album of that individual on the fly. “Once you've started naming people, we'll start suggesting names for you based on similarity,” said Mike Horowitz, Google's Picasa product manager. “The process of naming people is really addictive and tremendously fun.”
Tagging is a powerful way to sort digital photographs. Photo albums are useful, but with rich tagging, people also can slice and dice their photo collection to show particular people, activities, or locations. Even with face recognition technology or other computer processing, the textual tags in photos are a far more reliable way for computers to understand image content.
And tags become even more powerful as photos are assembled into publicly accessible collections such as those at Yahoo's Flickr, Picasa, or Fox Interactive's Photobucket.
Google also released Picasa 3 Beta image-editing. It works on Windows, though a Google Labs version has been transmogrified to work on Linux via the Wine software layer. Horowitz wouldn't confirm whether a Mac OS X version is anything more than an idea: “Macs are important to us,” he said. “We're always looking for new ways making sure our users are happy, so it's something we're looking at.”