Google Photos can recognize people's faces in photos where there are none

Google Photos library tab showing its logo above the favorites and utilities buttons
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Photos' face recognition feature has been spotted tagging people even if only the back of their head is visible in a photo.
  • The search giant confirms that the app is able to "group people based on clothing and other visual cues across photos taken within a similar timeframe."
  • However, the feature does not always work if the necessary visual cues are not present.

Google has taken Photos' face recognition skills to the next level, allowing the app to recognize people's faces in photos even when they are looking completely away from the camera.

As pointed out by Android Authority's Rita El Khoury, Google Photos is able to identify people in photos even when their faces are not visible, as in the case of her husband's photos. The author shared some recent photos of her husband in an about-face position. Photos then offered to tag her husband without even seeing his face after swiping up on the photo.

The face recognition feature works not only for recent photos but also for shots taken a few years ago, El Khoury noted. When reached out for comment, Google confirmed that this is due to improvements in Photos' machine learning models, eclipsing many of the top photo editing apps out there.

"We continuously improve our ability to help people organize and find photos of themselves and loved ones," Google told the outlet. "Recently, we improved our models so Google Photos can better group people based on clothing and other visual cues across photos taken within a similar timeframe."

El Khoury writes that because her husband's face was taken at the same place and time, as well as in the same clothes, the app automatically identified him in the rest of the photos where his face could not be seen.

Photos' facial recognition isn't new, as it's been using artificial intelligence to recognize people by their faces. It does this by analyzing the unique features of a person's face, such as the shape of their nose, eyes, and mouth. It's unclear when the latest feature was added, but it pushes Photos' AI capabilities to new heights.

However, it appears that Photos cannot always perform this type of recognition. El Khoury estimates that only 80% to 85% of the photographs she took of her husband were properly tagged.

In any case, this can help you organize your photos and find specific photos of people. For example, if you have a large number of photos of your family, you can use the app's improved facial recognition to create albums for each member. This way, you can easily find all the photos of your son, daughter, or spouse, even on occasions when their faces were not visible.

Photos' facial recognition technology is not perfect. It can sometimes misidentify people, in which case you can simply disregard suggestions for tagging someone and instead manually tag people in the photo.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • CajunMoses
    AC News said:
    Google has confirmed that Photos has the ability to recognize someone from behind using certain visual cues.

    Google Photos can recognize people's faces in photos where there's none : Read more
    I remember when Data did that on an episode of TNG.