Moments, the latest stand-alone application from Facebook Creative Labs, is aimed at allowing users and their friends to consolidate and organize their photos from events.
The new app is available for free download via the iTunes App Store and Google Play for U.S. users, with more countries to be added “over time.”
Product manager Will Ruben used weddings as an example of how Moments can be useful, saying in a Newsroom post introducing the app that Moments provides a quick way for friends who attended the same wedding to quickly share and organize their photos, and the same is true for smaller events.
Syncing photos with the Moments app is a private way to give photos to friends and get the photos you didn’t take. Moments groups the photos on your phone based on when they were taken and, using facial-recognition technology, which friends are in them. You can then privately sync those photos quickly and easily with specific friends, and they can choose to sync their photos with you, as well. Now, you and your friends have all the photos you took together.
Moments also keeps all of your synced photos organized and even lets you search them to find the ones that you or specific friends are in.
Moments uses facial-recognition technology to group your photos based on the friends who are in them. This is the same technology that powers tag suggestions on Facebook. You can control tag suggestions in your settings.
Ruben and software engineers Ashwin Bharabme and Zack Gomez described the process behind building Moments in a post on the social network’s engineering blog:
Our objective throughout the development process was to create something that empowers people to exchange photos with their friends. We sought to eliminate as much of the friction as possible, while still ensuring that you stay in control of the photos you take.
At the beginning, we weren’t tied to any particular solution, so we explored various ways that we could suggest which of the photos on your phone you may want to give to specific friends. We experimented with several different technologies—Bluetooth, location and facial recognition among them. Bluetooth wasn’t ideal for a few reasons. Some reasons were practical—for instance, friends who wanted to share photos would have to enable Bluetooth on their phones at the same time. Other reasons were more technical. Android and iPhones don’t cooperate very well over Bluetooth without the presence of a beacon. Location presented its own issues. It worked great for pinpointing which friends are in the area, but in crowded or densely populated places, it was not precise enough to suggest the specific people with whom you’d want to share your photos.
In the prototypes we built, facial recognition produced highly accurate, actionable suggestions. If friends of yours are recognized in a photo you take, that’s a signal that they probably want the photo. If you took other photos around that time or at the same event, they may want those photos, too. Your friends may want to give you the photos that they took around that time, as well.
We were fortunate to be able to leverage Facebook’s existing facial-recognition technology. Recognizing our friends is something that we can do easily as humans, but it’s a complex problem for computers. Only breakthroughs in recent years, some developed by Facebook’s artificial-intelligence research team, have made this technology something that can be really useful to people.