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Monday, June 01, 2009

iPhoto 09: On The Mend, Faces Feature Actually Works

A few months ago, I was a pretty vocal critic of the buggy feature of the iPhoto 09 system. With the faces feature crashing on me every 5-10 minutes or so, the application was basically useless.

After I posted my last article (link here) I even contacted Apple's support to try and resolve the issue. Even after a bunch of cache and temporary files were deleted, and even trying a different user, the problem still persisted.

I ended up giving up and walked away from iPhoto for a couple of months. That was until the iPhoto 8.0.1 update came out. Once I saw it, I scanned the release notes to see if the problem I reported a million times was fixed. Unfortunately, the notes were extremely ambiguous -- so I tried out the update anyways.

After the update, and subsequent update to 8.0.2 (402) and hoped for the best. To my surprise, an even better outcome than I initially expected. I clicked on Faces completely expecting it to crash since I had not deleted the faces.db file that kept getting corrupted. Instead, faces came up almost immediately and still retained all of the faces information from my previous run. This was great news!

iPhoto faces crashing and corruption fixed in iPhoto 8.0.1 and 8.0.2

Still, I was not fully convinced. I spent the next 25 minutes tagging and confirming names to the 6,000 or so photos in my library and could not reproduce the crash. For me this was great news and once again, iPhoto was usable for me.

But, I cannot same that iPhoto is my "complete" photo organization solution. While there are a ton of neat features, including automatic upload to Facebook -- I still find myself having to use Picasa for some of the basic organizing and photo optimization before importing into iPhoto. The "I'm feeling" lucky feature often tunes the photos for the most part how I like them. iPhoto missing that feature is a huge gap.

In addition, major piece of usability that bugs me about iPhoto is the naming feature in faces. When a face is not identified, rather than me creating a box around the face -- similar to how Facebook does it -- iPhoto plops usually a very large box in the middle of the page and then forces you to resize it. If they would allow you to start the box and create the size of it with the mouse, it would make it a lot more user friendly and save time.

My last complaint (for now) is with how iPhoto stores the Library (which is an option), in that you import your photos into iPhoto 09 with its own proprietary organization scheme. Unfortunately, if you combine "events" from your library to consolidate, iPhoto 09 only performs this in the database. It would even be nice...especially when you're sharing a library with other programs for it to mimic those changes in the file system.

In summary, for now...iPhoto 09 is definitely a step ahead from iPhoto 08, but still has a way to go to be my top choice. I am still hoping to see some drastic improvements either in upcoming point releases or with the iPhoto 10 launch.