Picasa has had what all programs seem to get at some point in their life: A .5 update release.

This one is pretty good too. The feature I’ve wanted since I poured all my photos I’ve ever taken is now here and it is pretty good too: Facial Recognition.

The interface is nice and the algorithm is pretty good.  I have several shots of a friend with red hair and then a few with black hair. If you’ve use the interface you’ll know that Picasa groups faces together that might be similar. I’ve seen her face several times while removing the majority of the faces (me, Mrs Bear, etc) and getting down to the less photographed. So I tag her the first time, tag the second, but the algorithm they use must of decided that the larger sample of her face now does include the photos with black hair and so decided to include it. Another example is it accurately tagged a female friend at a fancy dress party as a pirate – complete with beard.

While it is quite accurate there has been some mishaps – two of my friends ended up with photos in each others folders, one being indian and the other white. Pictures of faces side-ways to the camera seem to get lumped in together. For the pictures which Picasa is unsure of it gives you a little tick or cross to decide, though sometimes it mistags a person and doesn’t give that interface. Speed could do with a bump – 18,000 photos took about 6 hours to analyze.

Now I have 9,300 faces to sift through…