9to5Mac and GigaOM both report that Apple is adding facial recognition technology and APIs to its upcoming iOS 5. What might this mean for iPhone users, as well as for the app developers looking to capitalize on your facial expressions?
The discovery of these APIs follows last year's news around Apple's acquisition of Polar Rose, a company that specializes in facial recognition algorithms and has been employed on such sites as Flickr for auto tagging (as we covered in 2009). See video above to see how Polar Rose's app Recognizr works.
Rather than create a singular iOS 5 application with facial recognition abilities, Apple is opening up 5 APIs that will allow developers to implement a variety of facial recognition features into their third-party apps.
One can only imagine the possibilities this technology will bring to end users and app developers – and even marketers and advertisers looking for insight on app viewing patterns. As GigaOM speculates, it would be nice to have a phone that can "...assess the emotional state of the user...and address the user in a manner appropriate to their mood."
As with Google's recent acquisition of PittPatt, Apple's inclusion of these APIs means we're looking at widespread integration of facial recognition features in the near future. And hopefully the privacy and opt-out settings will arrive with the technology, too.