January 29, 2009Web · Culture · Photos · Optimization · User Experience

Behind the scenes with the new Facebook features in Apple’s iPhoto ’09

Srinivas Narayanan

Apple recently announced that the new Faces feature converts iPhoto '09 name tags to Facebook name tags. Then they and their friends can view those photos in Facebook, and if other friends are tagged in Facebook, those tags will sync back to iPhoto ’09. This integration makes it really easy for Mac users to share and connect with others, which is central to what Facebook is all about as well. Engineers crave to work on things that are impactful and touch a lot of people.

I joined Facebook three months ago knowing that I’d have such opportunities. Little did I know that my first project, helping bring Facebook features to Apple’s iPhoto ’09, would allow me to make an impact for Facebook so soon. To see my work at Macworld was a nice bonus! Technically speaking, this feature is a part of Facebook Connect and the APIs it provides. An interesting aspect of this particular feature is that it is designed to be bi-directional. This means one can modify photos in iPhoto ’09 or on Facebook and the changes will be reflected in both places. To support this bi-directional integration, we enhanced the photos APIs to help iPhoto ’09 determine when name tags are added on Facebook, keep them in sync with the iPhoto ’09 application, and provide familiar Facebook privacy controls to allow users to share these photos with the appropriate set of people.

As a new engineer working on this project, I quickly experienced first-hand what many people told me about Facebook – it’s a place that has extremely smart and passionate people who are given the freedom to make the right decisions. The project had a great start thanks to Tracy Chou and the Connect team. It was an amazing experience to build on what they started and have my first project be something so substantive and prominent. It helped me realize the incredible opportunity one has at Facebook to help make the world more open and connected.

Srinivas, a new engineer at Facebook, can’t wait to have pictures of his New Year revelry be shared to Facebook using iPhoto ’09.

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