Inside iOS 10: Examining the new smart Photos features

Posted:
in macOS edited September 2016
With the new iOS 10 and macOS Sierra updates Apple introduced a set of automated Photos tools, like new machine learning algorithms that automatically identify faces and places, that combine to make image search and organization easier than ever.




Before the update, Apple users had to manually sift through their photo library to surface individual images. Discovering photos from years ago meant picking through albums organized by date going back potentially years and years.

With iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, intelligent Photos search features analyze the content of your photo library and automatically organize images based on detected faces, objects and scenes. Results are filtered into one of two albums: People and Places.



Want to find photos that include Aunt Karen? No problem. Just look for her photos in the People album and add her name. You can now search all your photos that include her. How about photos from the food truck festival you attended four months ago? It's just a keyword search away.

Although the scanning is automatic, don't expect it to be quick. After the initial update, iOS 10 on an iPhone 6 Plus took almost three hours for a library of roughly 350 "optimized" images to process. Face recognition software automatically groups similar faces together in the People album. Photos will also scan your photos and videos for object and scene recognition, as well as location, and gathers them by thousands of possible keywords.

To organize photos of friends and family by faces, first go to the People folder in Photos, then click on the desired mini album. Apple's software automatically detects faces as part of the scanning process and creates individual mini albums for each face, populated by all the photos in which they appear.

Tapping on an individual's mini album allows you to add attach a name to the software-detected face. Now you have a go-to album that has all your photos of and with that person.

For photos snapped at specific locales, click on the Places album and map populated with geotagged images will appear. Zoom in and out to find the location you're looking for, then click on the photo over the location and a list of photos you've taken at that location will show up in chronological order.

You can also use Siri to search for photos based on a specific date, time frame or location. For example, if you want to find photos from that food truck festival we mentioned above, just ask Siri to "Show you photos from August 18th." Want to find photos from your latest vacation? Ask Siri "Show me photos from Pensacola."

As noted above, you can input the names of the people in your photos to easily search for photos of them by name and you can even drag and drop people to your favorites section at the top. Users can also search for items, such as "dog," "beach" and "food" in your photos as well.

The Photos app also has a new Memories feature that pulls photos based on the locations, times and/or names to create a video slideshow. It culls photos from your Camera Roll for the video. Apple calls them "highlights" from "forgotten events, trips and people." This could be an interesting and entertaining endeavor depending on what types of "forgotten" information is lurking in your device. You can also easily share the Memories videos with family and friends.

One of the biggest downfalls of the new features is that it doesn't sync between devices. Information you've already input from previous Photos is lost. It also means all the work you put into adding names, creating videos, merging people files won't automatically transfer to another iOS device.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    I'd prefer to allow them to store the people and place data in iCloud and sync between all of my devices.
    jony0
  • Reply 2 of 26
    According to an interview John Gruber did with Apple execs Photo sync is coming.
    edited September 2016 watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 26
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 26
    yeah i bet we'll see this...each photo has a unique ID on your icloud account, as do each contact. so if you tag your photos as "Joe Bob" from one device they will likely be able to apply that same association on another.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    joe28753 said:
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    You'll probably notice your CPU will be doing overtime with Photos as Photos processes your pictures. It could take awhile depending how many photos you have stored on your Hard Drive or SSD.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    is anyone able to get siri to search for pictures by contact name, utilizing your Faces assignment? i can search by the Faces name using the magnifying glass icon, but not via siri.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    Apple has really screwed this up! 

    I have spent many, many hours carefully organizing my photos by "Face" on my Mac. I often manually assigned a picture to someone where the face was partially obscured. When sync'ed to iOS the photos were tagged with the Face name so you could search for them on the iOS device. It worked great. Now they have removed those tags! When I attempt to search by the name that was formerly assigned to a face all I get on iOS is Albums that have that string in the Album name.

    I guarantee the facial recognition will not identify people correctly.  And they don't sync that info amongst devices. Unbelievable! 

    I am getting really tired of Apple completely changing how Photos / iPhoto works. Every year they force you to try some new organization approach that only 1/2 works. I am about to throw in the towel and try Google Photos or something else. 

    I have 13,000+ photos that are the most important data I have. I am not sure I am willing to risk that to the whims of Apple anymore. it is very, very disappointing. 
  • Reply 8 of 26
    Apple has really screwed this up! 

    I have spent many, many hours carefully organizing my photos by "Face" on my Mac. I often manually assigned a picture to someone where the face was partially obscured. When sync'ed to iOS the photos were tagged with the Face name so you could search for them on the iOS device. It worked great. Now they have removed those tags! When I attempt to search by the name that was formerly assigned to a face all I get on iOS is Albums that have that string in the Album name.

    I guarantee the facial recognition will not identify people correctly.  And they don't sync that info amongst devices. Unbelievable! 

    I am getting really tired of Apple completely changing how Photos / iPhoto works. Every year they force you to try some new organization approach that only 1/2 works. I am about to throw in the towel and try Google Photos or something else. 

    I have 13,000+ photos that are the most important data I have. I am not sure I am willing to risk that to the whims of Apple anymore. it is very, very disappointing. 
    Actually, the Face information is still there, however many of my pictures now have the Faces either mixed up, or the "ring" denoting the person's face has actually moved off of the person, so I have to go in and manually move it back to their face! That's a weird error.
  • Reply 9 of 26
    joe28753 said:
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    You'll probably notice your CPU will be doing overtime with Photos as Photos processes your pictures. It could take awhile depending how many photos you have stored on your Hard Drive or SSD.
    Not so sure of this.
    from what I have been able to learn
    this only works if you have iCloud photos.
    does not work on your hardware.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    joe28753 said:
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    You'll probably notice your CPU will be doing overtime with Photos as Photos processes your pictures. It could take awhile depending how many photos you have stored on your Hard Drive or SSD.
    Not so sure of this.
    from what I have been able to learn
    this only works if you have iCloud photos.
    does not work on your hardware.
    I've noticed my hardware has significantly slowed since updating.
  • Reply 11 of 26
    joe28753 said:
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    You'll probably notice your CPU will be doing overtime with Photos as Photos processes your pictures. It could take awhile depending how many photos you have stored on your Hard Drive or SSD.
    Not so sure of this.
    from what I have been able to learn
    this only works if you have iCloud photos.
    does not work on your hardware.
    everything i heard pre-launch was that photo tagging ("palm trees") is done on-device using device hardware.
  • Reply 12 of 26
    This is like Google Photos without the Cloud part to be in line with the Your data us safe with you and we have no access to it mantra. 
    Unfortunately with all the drawbacks such as no syncing between devices, being a resource hog and all. 
    I prefer Google Photos for the above. 
  • Reply 13 of 26
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,749member
    Really don't have any use for these features, but I did play around with it and I must say that the the face recognition was much better than I expected. Of course, some people will expect perfection, but for a consumer product this is pretty remarkable. Minor issues I found included...

    A few instances where siblings were ID'd as one another. Easy to correct. Other than siblings I saw no errors.
    More instances of it missing photos of people it previously grouped together. No biggie as you can merge. I do wish you could merge from the photos page rather than having to open it up.
    There's no way to ID people in groups if the system doesn't do it for you. For example, I couldn't take a photo of my parents and tie it to both Mom and Dad.
  • Reply 14 of 26


    joe28753 said:
    I certainly hope syncing is coming soon. I have tens of thousands of photos. I don't want to go through and name/verify faces on every device I have. 
    You'll probably notice your CPU will be doing overtime with Photos as Photos processes your pictures. It could take awhile depending how many photos you have stored on your Hard Drive or SSD.
    Not so sure of this.
    from what I have been able to learn
    this only works if you have iCloud photos.
    does not work on your hardware.
    everything i heard pre-launch was that photo tagging ("palm trees") is done on-device using device hardware.

    I use iStats and the first thing I noticed was the high CPU usage after I installed Sierra on my 5K iMac. I did a search and got this:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6983876?start=0&tstart=0

    p.s. If this is a double post, it's because when I clicked post, nothing happened.

    edited September 2016
  • Reply 15 of 26
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    yeah i bet we'll see this...each photo has a unique ID on your icloud account, as do each contact. so if you tag your photos as "Joe Bob" from one device they will likely be able to apply that same association on another.
    How much do you wanna bet?
  • Reply 17 of 26
    "One of the biggest downfalls of the new features is that it doesn't sync between devices."

    Yup, big downfall. With iOS 9 Photos I can search for a name and the Faces I had tagged on my iMac Photos.app show up. I wonder why they just didn't keep this feature and add onto it in iOS 10? It seems a pretty easy 2 way street between MacOS and iOS for this. I have 39,000 photos. It will be sometime next year before Photos chew through all those.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    In addition, I see that out of 11 'mini albums' it has created so far there are 2 with my face and 2 with my wife's face. I just clicked 'Add People and found another picture of my wife. When I clicked on it it added another mini album based on that photo. There doesn't seem to be a way to manually merge 2 mini albums of the same person. So it seems iOS Face Recognition isn't much better than Photos.app. The instant slideshow seems OK.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    One more. I did figure out how to merge Faces mini albums. One has to Select the albums and click Merge.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    "One of the biggest downfalls of the new features is that it doesn't sync between devices. "

    You've got to be kidding, I've been tagging and merging faces on my 6S since iOS10 was released. I'm going to have to do this on every device!? ffs apple.
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