Well, I am happy to say that Faces in iPhoto works very well. It is easy and intuitive and I was naming faces in just minutes after iPhoto '09 was up and ready to go.
"Up and ready to go" takes some time, however. Before you can use the Faces naming feature, iPhoto reads through all of your photos looking for faces. That process can take a long time. On my test iPhoto Library that has about 700 photos, it took about 15 minutes to complete. If your iPhoto Library contains thousands of photos, be prepared to wait quite a while. This step only has to be done once, however. While iPhoto does evaluate each new photo on an import, it doesn't take very long to do.
The basic process for naming faces goes like this: You pick a good clear photo of the person you want to name. Then you name that person. iPhoto looks through the Library for other photos it things might be that person, giving you the option to say Yes or No. The more faces you name, the smarter iPhoto is about selecting possible matches.
I gave iPhoto a rather difficult task in naming the faces in my test Library. Many of the photos are of my four nieces, two sets of sisters, all with blond hair and about a year apart in age.
Here are some comments on how well the face detection worked (or didn't work):
- Profile shots weren't detected, but a 3/4 face shot often was.
- Even somewhat blurry photos detected the face properly.
- For the four nieces, iPhoto often offered up the suggestion of sisters, cousins, and sometimes even parents. (To be fair however, sometimes I have to look at a photo twice to identify which girl it is.)
- Face detection does not work with cats.
- Sideways or upside down photos were detected just fine.
- iPhoto was not able to distinguish between my brother-in-law and his twin brother. (But c'mon here, lets be fair.)
- iPhoto was able to detect a fair amount of age progression among the girls.