How to Merge Faces in iOS Photos & Improve Facial Recognition
One of the many new features in iOS 10 is facial recognition software, which automatically scans every photo on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, determines what is a person, who has a unique face, and then automatically sorts those pictures into a “People” photos album for each unique face.
The face recognition aspect of iOS Photos is pretty accurate, but sometimes it can erroneously identify the same person as multiple different people. This is particularly true if you style your hair differently, alternate between wearing a hat or not, gain or lose weight, have facial hair and then shave, and any other scenario where someone’s face appearance changes.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to merge different faces in the People photo album of iOS, which is the simplest way to correct any inaccurate People album face sorting. This process also seems to make the Photos People face recognition album more accurate, as it appears to learn from face merging what the same person may look like under different scenarios. Let’s walk through how to merge faces in the Peoples album of iOS 10, and we’ll also discuss the Peoples face feature a bit more and how it can not currently be turned off.
How to Merge People Faces in iOS Photos
- Open the Photos app and go to “Albums” and then go to “People”
- Tap on the “Select” button in the upper right corner
- Now tap on every individual persons face you want to merge together, selecting at least two different face choices, then tap on “Merge”
- Confirm that you want to merge the peoples faces into the same person by tapping on Merge again
- Repeat as necessary to merge additional faces into the same person
The Peoples albums will re-sort with the merged faces and the facial recognition appears to get smarter from each merge.
Can I turn off facial recognition in iOS 10 Photos?
Some users may decide they’d rather disable facial recognition and the Peoples album in iOS 10, perhaps because they don’t want to deal with the initial slow speed after updating to iOS 10 (though yes any sluggish behavior entirely resolves itself after the albums have finished sorting), or due to privacy reasons.
But, sorry, that is not possible at the moment, and according to official Apple Support there is no way to disable facial recognition in iOS 10.
Currently there is no way to turn off the facial recognition aspect of iOS 10 Photos app directly. It appears the only way to avoid facial recognition scanning your photos in iOS 10 is to not have any photos on the device, which is a fairly unlikely scenario for most iPhone and iPad users.
To me, this sounds like an oversight for a company that prides itself in privacy and choice. Hopefully this changes in a future software update and we get a simple Settings toggle to turn facial recognition and People album off or on, since many users and privacy advocates would prefer to not have facial recognition sorting through pictures on their devices at all, or at least would like some control over it.
For what it’s worth, the iOS Photos “faceprinting” and facial recognition scanning is, according to Apple, accomplished entirely with local data and not by using the cloud or any remote service, meaning neither Apple nor anyone aside from the device itself can access that information. That should relay most privacy concerns about the feature, but nonetheless, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
Since there is no way to disable facial recognition in iOS 10 for now, you might want to just focus on making it more accurate (or less accurate if you want to throw it off for some reason). Surely future versions of iOS will add additional features to adjust how the face recognition abilities work though.