Google has released an updated version of the free photo editing software Picasa. Version 3.5 adds a great new feature called Name Tags that was originally only available in Picasa Web Albums. The new version has also improved tagging , import/export, and enhanced geo-tagging with integration of Google Maps. Check out the following video to find out what’s new in Picasa 3.5.
Update [September 24, 2009]:
Since I installed the 3.5 update, Picasa has been busy scanning my photos to identify faces. After about 24 hours, it is only about 20% complete (I have a very large collection). I initially named about 20 people. Picasa automatically creates album for each individual. After that, Picasa scans my photo collection then come up with suggestions of photos with the same person in them.
My first impression is that Picasa has amazing ability in identifying faces. It doesn’t matter if the face is only tiny part of the photo, out of focus, blurry, under/over exposed, or partially hidden, they are detected. Even faces in the photo within the photo and statues are detected. The automatic face recognition isn’t perfect though. It seems more accurate for adult faces but not so for baby or toddler faces. Now I am in the process of confirming thousands of faces that Picasa isn’t sure about the identity.
In Tools->Options->Name Tags settings panel, there are some options you can tweak for Name Tags. However there is no clear documentation for what they exactly do so I just used the default values.