New API Alternative Ready for Your Photos

It's been a little over two weeks since the latest Facebook API euthanasia which saw the API shuttered. Among those disappointed by the API shutdown were the founders of LambdaLabs, which quickly began work on an alternative, the LambdaLabs Face API. Though not as full-featured as the API, Lambda's looks likely to stay online longer.

If all you need is basic face detection, this API likely suits your needs. It identifies the face, nose and mouth. It just added gender detection, though it's not 100%, something that was also true of, to the chagrin of some of my apparently more feminine male friends. My favorite feature, facial mood detection, is not implemented nor on the roadmap. Smile detection is expected, but no timeline is given.

To be a serious face API, you need to be able to do face recognition in addition to detection. According to the LambdaLabs site, that is coming July 30.

Face.comFace detection and recognition are not simple problems. In my discussions with, it was clear the company thought highly of its technology. "The new face recognition algorithm uses a group of new techniques to boost results by 30%,"'s Gil Hirsch told me in March. "We're used to increments of 3% per year. It's mostly focusing on reducing false positives." Among's methods is converting photos to 3D to make a map of the face.

It's unclear whether's technology really is as great as its CEO thinks (there were questionable facial age detection results). Even more unclear is whether the team behind LambdaLabs can recreate it in a couple weeks. But I'm sure glad they're trying.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.




Another option for some developers is the face recognition API from BioID. Since BioID's technology was developed for authentication it won't support all the features of like identifying multiple points on the face, or attributes like gender, age, mood, etc., and face detection is stricter.

On the other hand, it also supports voice recognition, the face recognition algorithm is much better and liveness detection is built in, which can tell the difference between a live face and a photo. It can extract high-quality face images, and can also be used for applications such as face or voice similarity search, fraud detection, image quality checks for passport photos or mugshots, and of course authentication.

For a detailed comparison, check out

We're working on getting the face recognition out the door this week. If you guys have any questions, suggestions, or thoughts on how we can make your face recognition app integration go smoothly, tweet us @LambdaAPI or email me at

- Stephen Balaban, Founder - Lambda Labs


Another option for robust emotion recognition and facial features is nViso 3D Facial Imaging API (

[...] which takes up where the API left off. We said it’s a great first release, but needs to add face recognition in addition to detection. That feature is coming soon. Read more in the LambdaLabs Face API post or [...]

Just tried all 3 (rekognition, lambda and - their playground page is still up) on a same set of images:

Lambda: 0 out of 10

Rekognition 2 out of 10 8 out of 10

(tried one simple image on BIOID, but got lot's of errors about bad image quality/contrast/lighting/size/etc. and no actual results)

So I guess there is no real alternative to just yet. Maybe FB will bring it back somehow...