Organize Photos for Free With Fotobounce

Fotobounce's facial recognition is supposed to identify the faces in your photos, but it doesn't always work. In this picture it mistook a set of stairs for a person.
Fotobounce, a free (but ad-supported) app is designed to help shake the dust and cobwebs off your digital photo collection, by organizing and helping you share your photos. Recently updated to version 3.1, it now offers more control over just how you share those photos. Like earlier versions, this one offers some pretty nifty features, but also suffers from a few glitches.

Once installed, Fotobounce will find your photos in the locations to which you direct the app. The company says its organization features are "people-centric" and, as such, the app's key feature is its Face Recognition Technology. It's designed to learn to recognize the faces that appear in your photos--with a little training, of course. It automatically finds faces in your photos, and you can tag people to identify them. Once you start tagging people, Fotobounce is supposed to learn their identities, and should begin identifying them for you.

The facial recognition didn't always work as advertised, however--and the iteration of it in version 3.1 was just as buggy as it was when I tested version 3.0 a few months back. I tested the app with a large library containing thousands of photos, and went through some of them, tagging the same person over and over again. I also used the app's Eye Locations system, which allows you to identify the locations of eyes in photos in order to improve facial recognition, but I was still disappointed with the results. Fotobounce was successful in identifying faces less than 50 percent of the time in my informal tests. It also identified random objects, such as a set of stairs, as a face. Luckily, you can easily reject its suggestions and apply your own tags instead.

Fotobounce allows you to share your photos in several different ways. You can connect the app to your Facebook or Flickr accounts to upload your photos or albums, and it will keep your tags intact. When you link Fotobounce to your Facebook account, it will import a list of your friends and allow you to tag them directly in any photos in your Fotobounce library.

In addition, the app allows you to share photos directly with friends via a private peer-to-peer connection that the company likens to "Skype for photos." To do this, you send invitations to people you'd like to add as "Bouncers"; they, in turn, have to install Fotobounce on their computers in order to see your photos. New in version 3.1 is the ability to control which photos each Bouncer can see, which is a most welcome addition. I also like that a bug I found in the last version of the app, which blocked the initiations I sent to potential bouncers from being received, has been fixed. All of my invitations arrived without delay.

Fotobounce also lets you view your photo collection from a mobile device with a browser, such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, or a BlackBerry. You do this by setting up a user name and password in the desktop version of the app, and then pointing your mobile browser to Fotobounce's mobile URL. From here, it's easy enough to browse through your photo library, but I found the interface somewhat inelegant. I tested Fotomobile on an iPhone 4, and was disappointed to see that my photos never filled the phone's screen. Instead, they were small and sometimes displayed off-center.

Also new in version 3.1 is a feature called Fotomail. This lets you send photos from your mobile device right to your Fotobounce account. It works by assigning you a specific Fotomail e-mail address, and is easy to use. It's a handy way to get the full-resolution photos from your mobile device added to your photo library.

I like Fotobounce as a free photo organizer: in addition to organizing photos by person, you can sort them by date and place. It makes scrolling through a large photo collection a snap. I'd like to see the face recognition improve, however. Until it does, it takes more time than it saves.

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