iPhoto ’09

Posted by Chalky on Jan 28, 2009 in Computer, Technology |

iLife '09 LogoSo my copy of iLife ’09 arrived in the post yesterday and I got it installed and immediately went to play with iPhoto ’09. iPhoto seems to have been given the most attention out of the entire suite of apps so I was looking forward to having a go. The most eagerly anticipated feature in my opinion had to be the Face Detection and Face Recognition closely followed by the Facebook integration. So without further ado, here’s some of my thoughts on the new toys in iPhoto ’09

Face Detection

Face DetectionThe first new toy that I was eager to play with was the new Face Recognition feature. But, before any of that, iPhoto has to look through your library and find all of the faces within your photographs. As you can see, iPhoto took about an hour to go through my 3,930 photographs that I had previously loaded into iPhoto and placed them into Events. I left mine overnight, because by the time I’d actually got round to installing iLife and rebooting my iMac, it was already… well… today.

I noticed that as it was going through, it was picking up multiple people in photos and also the faces of people that were in the background of the photos (with other people in the foreground) so I was very impressed with the level of detail in the detection of people’s faces, it even detects the sides of people’s faces! It even managed to find people in some of my not-successful night pictures without a flash where it would be difficult for a human to see a face, let alone an algorithm. It also made light work of my poorly scanned film photos and photos from my first digital camera, back in the day, which had an amazing(!) 640×480 resolution.

It seemed to whizz through photos pretty quickly so I’m confident it won’t take very long at all for iPhoto to handle a ‘normal’ import of photos.

An amusing anomaly was the fact that iPhoto managed to recognise the “face” of a goat produced with flowers for the Hope Valley Well Dressing last year:

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Recognition

Empty Faces Corkboard

This was one feature that I was a bit skeptical of in the Keynote. I thought it would be an idea that would be good in practice but doesn’t really work in reality. I was therefore pleasantly suprised to find that it actually works quite well.

For those who don’t know, you simply select one of your pictures from your Library with some faces on it and you tell iPhoto who the picture is of. iPhoto will then look through your Library and looks for pictures that contains what it thinks is the same person. The more you confirm within iPhoto, the more reliable it becomes:

Dublin Faces

I was impressed that it iPhoto was able to recongise faces even if they weren’t looking directly at the camera and that it can sometimes recognise people even if they are pulling a funny face. I found that it likes certain people more than others and is therefore able to recognise them more easily. I also found that it seemed to recognise females more accurately than males.

It was also interesting to see that sometimes it me and my sister, Jill, mixed up. I suppose this has something to do with everyone saying we both look like my Dad. Interesting that it didn’t cross reference any photos of me as my Dad, Jill as my Dad or vice-versa.


PlacesUnfortunately, I don’t currently have a geo-tagging camera or an iPhone so I can’t really benefit from this new feature. That being, the ability to plot where you’ve taken all of your photographs onto a map.

You can go in manually and tell it where you took each photo, or a general location for an entire event/album. It’s not quite as good, but it gives you the idea. I found that whilst it handles cities and towns very well, it doesn’t recognise many locations (like Museums, etc) outside of London. You therefore have to find them via their postcode, road and town.

Photo Upload

Photo Upload OptionsThe new version of iPhoto has a wide range of options for you to be able to upload your photographs to other places, particularly on the Internet. Along with the familiar export to e-mail and iWeb (iLife’s Web Authoring Application) you can now upload to MobileMe (Apple’s replacement to .Mac and rival to Microsoft’s Mesh), Facebook and Flickr. I’m really excited about these because it means that I can now use iPhoto to centralise all of my Photographs and what I do with them. It means that I will be able to load my Photographs straight into iPhoto from my camera, rotate/crop them and then upload them straight to the relevant place depending on what the photos are, without having to then re-export them from iPhoto, log into Facebook/Flickr and then make an album and upload them. Now, it’s all just one click!


I’ve always been a big fan of the Slideshow capabilities with iPhoto. It’s one of the reasons I bought a Mac in the first place. As mentioned before, it’s often that I get asked to do slideshows for family and church events.

The best feature in my opinion is infact the most boring one. A complete redesign of the way iPhoto exports the slideshows. The slideshows always look awesome in iPhoto, but sometimes they looked awful after being exported and you often found that the slideshow wouldn’t open in anything, including Apple’s own iTunes and you couldn’t play them back on the Apple TV. Now, Apple have made it possible for, not only for you to play them back on these devices and automatically add them to iTunes, but to be able to choose the size of the exported slideshow file. Previously, when exporting video, videos were 800×600 wether you liked it or not!

Apple have also introduced Themed Slideshows, much like the titles with iMovie. So you can now create a great looking slideshow within seconds along with all the usual music and transitions. I thought rather than rabbiting on about these, I’d just upload one:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

So there you are. If you have a Mac, it’s certainly worth buying and if you have friends and/or family with Macs, club together and go for the Family Pack license. If you haven’t got a Mac, why not, go out and buy one now!

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