Earlier this year, Polar Rose got some headlines when it applied its nifty photo tagging technology to Flickr, one of the most popular image sharing services on the Web. Cleverly, it used Facebook Connect as a way to identify people that were named and tagged on images hosted on Flickr.
Now the Swedish company is taking it up a notch with the release of a Facebook application that should make it easier for people to discover in which other photos on Facebook, Flickr or 23hq.com they (or any of their friends) appear, whether they're properly tagged or not.
I installed the application, and after importing all the photos from my account – which took quite a while – Polar Rose let me tag persons in photos that hadn't been labeled yet. It let me view and edit tags for photos from people I've added to my account, as well as those uploaded by persons I'm connected to and are also on Polar Rose (e.g. Mike Butcher, see screenshot below).
When you tag people, Facebook automatically posts about this to the named person's wall (something that can't be controlled from the outside), so take that into account before you start mass-tagging. And in case you're wondering, the application only fetches photos with privacy set as "friends only", "friends of friends" and "everyone".
In the future, Polar Rose aims to support more social graphs, like the ones from your Twitter account and Google Contacts.
Face.com is another facial recognition startup, although they're currently limited to Facebook only, while Polar Rose works across Facebook, Flickr and 23hq. Polar Rose also says it differentiates from Face.com because it isn't exclusively focused on the tagging part but also about the ‘viewing and sharing experience'.
In case you haven't heard, Facebook is huge in photo sharing. According to its latest statistics, it hosts about 20 billion photos, of which 5 billion were added in the last 6 months alone. The social network's public stats claim 2 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month at present time.