Google is looking to improve both user experience and its AI in its Photos app by finally allowing manual tagging for users to fix AI-driven misidentifications. The change also delivers better overall functionality. Prior to the update, users haven't been able to manually control the tagging except by adding tags or removing the photo from tagging.
In effect, the feature reportedly does precisely what that description entails. Following an update to the application, users are now able to manually identify people in Google Photos. The underlying algorithms will still identify and tag people automatically based on user-defined settings. But now Google is letting people tag their friends and family manually wherever the AI has recognized a face.
Not unexpected but it does fix at least one big issue
The changes here aren't entirely unexpected. Google has said it expects to launch in the near future for Photos. Among other incoming updates, Google is expected to launch automatic resolution upgrading, in-image text-based searching, and coloring options for black-and-white photos.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest things changed by the new tagging feature in Google Photos is that it allows users to fix their photo groupings. Although Google Photos is generally great at identifying users friends, family, and even pets via AI facial recognition, it's not a perfect solution. The system has long misidentified faces from time to time, slotting them into the incorrect category.
Prior to the update, there was no way to go back and undo that mistake. Users could manually remove photos from the folder but couldn't manually re-tag the image with the proper name.
Now, users simply need to navigate to the offending photo — or any photo with unrecognized faces — and within a few clicks, those mistakes can be fixed. After opening a photo, users can either swipe up or click the three-dot menu at the top-right-hand side. That calls forward the new Google Photos carousel. As long as the AI recognizes faces in the photo, those will be found under a "People" subheading.
Within that subheading, there will now be a pencil-shaped edit icon. Tapping that brings forward thumbnails of people that have been tagged in the photo and options to adjust those tags. If Google recognizes but doesn't label a face, those can be tagged now too.
The sole caveat is that the feature is still dependant on Google's AI recognizing a face, to begin with. So some photos, where the system has been unable to identify any faces at all, will still not be taggable.
Not seeing the change yet?
The new manual tagging feature was spotted rolling out today for some users but not for all of them. That implies this is a slow update over time, with Google keeping an eye out for bugs in the app throughout the rollout.
The feature is also altering a core interaction between the user and the underlying Assistant AI. While that seems straightforward on the surface, it's likely a key factor that's keeping this rollout slow. Regardless of the underlying reason, users shouldn't be too concerned if the updated tool hasn't arrived just yet.