I see that Microsoft has at last introduced a much-requested feature into their Photos app for Windows 10. Unfortunately, this being Microsoft, the feature is half-baked and not useful. Let me explain.
With the Fall Creators Update, the Photos app started to be able to recognise faces in photos. There was no way to add names to the faces, or to group photos of the same face together under one name, as we could do in Microsoft’s Windows Photo Gallery 2012, but at least it appeared as though Microsoft was starting down the road to make the Photos app more useful by adding People Tags.
There’s now at last a build (2017.39101.16720.0) of the Photos app released to Windows Insiders that allows you to assign names to faces. However, the names are local to the PC on which they are done, so they reside in the local database of the Photos app, rather than being written back to the file as metadata. That means that the information does not travel with the file. If the file is held in OneDrive, and accessed from another device, the People Tags are not available to that device. The experience is broken. If you want the People Tags to be available on the new device, you have to go through the manual process of adding names to faces again (and again and again on each new device that the files are copied to).
What is truly depressing is that Microsoft helped define a metadata standard for tagging faces in the Metadata Working Group – and that standard has been available since 2010. It’s been implemented in products such as Adobe Lightroom, Photo Supreme and Google’s Picasa, so People tags created in any one of these products travel with the file, and can be read in any of the others.
Here we are in 2018, and Microsoft still hasn’t learned how to build a seamless experience for People Tagging.
And to add insult to injury, the Search facility for descriptive tags is also still broken.