"Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

More Photos Follies

9/15/16, 8:03 AM

Apple is the new Microsoft. (See previous post.)

Apart from Schiller's "courage," (almost, but not quite, as absurd as Ballmer's "Developers, developers, developers! Developers, developers developers!"), the most recent evidence is the performance of Photos on iOS.

The latest iOS version is "fully-buzzword-compliant" with "machine-learning." It incorporates facial recognition, which is what we had with iPhoto and Aperture for years. It wasn't terribly good, it required a lot of manual intervention, but we had it.

I was looking forward to seeing what sort of advances these AI geniuses Apple's been acqui-hiring lately would come up with. The short answer: None.

I have about 54K images in iCloud, they're mostly 3MP in size. In order for Photos to "scan" your images for faces, your device has to be locked (Read: "You can't be using it."), and connected to power. So, fine, I let my iPad Pro run overnight. And then gave it a few hours the next morning.

Result: Same as iPhoto and Aperture. I observed no improvement.

It gives you a face, with a number that tells how many other images contain that face. But it's very conservative, as I suppose it ought to be, and so any given individual's face is represented in many separate groups of images as if they were different individuals. You must go through and select those groups and then "merge" them. That's a little different behavior than iPhoto or Aperture, but it's hardly an improvement.

If you scroll to the bottom of an "album" of a particular individual, you get the same sort of "so-and-so may also be in these images" available in iPhoto or Aperture, and you can confirm or reject a number of other images that have that individual's face in them.

The groups are sorted by the number of images in them, so those with only a few are at the bottom of a long, long screen of faces and it's possible that those "may also be in these images" candidates are coming from those groups at the bottom of the list, I couldn't tell and didn't have the patience to try to experiment.

Be careful when you're confirming or rejecting. If you realize you were a little quick on the draw, you can select "undo" and get the opportunity to correct an error. But once an image has been assigned to a particular face, I found no way to remove that assignment.

You can "hide" faces that are irrelevant to you, and in 54K images, there are many. You can also elect to show only "Favorites."

So, overall, a singularly unimpressive result. Not a big deal. A "feature" that's kind of a pain in the ass to use. It's not "magical."

But, the truly offensive aspect is, once again, the apparent lack of integration with iCloud.

I pay for additional storage in iCloud to store "all" of my images (they're not all, but close enough), and to keep all of my images available on all of my devices.

Well, if the iPad Pro has gone through all 54K images and scanned for faces, and I've gone through its feeble attempts to recognize people and actually recognized them correctly, one would hope, think and expect that the organizational meta-data would propagate up through iCloud and down to my iPhone where the same 54K images exist.


iPhone maintains that it must "scan" all 54K images, and I suppose I'll have to go through and re-identify everyone all over again. We're now into day two of this update process and the iPhone, in spite of being plugged in and "locked" overnight twice, is still "scanning."

Apple is the new Microsoft.

They suck.