Microsoft How Old do I Look app

How Old do I Look was an app developed and released by Microsoft that enabled people to upload their own images, or those of anyone discovered on Microsoft's search engine Bing, to be analysed for their age and gender. 

Designed to site to showcase Microsoft's cloud server software, the app drew on the company's Face API to analyse twenty-seven 'facial landmarks' using statistical algorithms.

Operator: Microsoft
Developer: Microsoft

Country: USA; Global

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Guess age, gender

Technology: Facial detection; Facial analysis; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy


Risks and harms 🛑

Microsoft's How Old Do I Look app was criticised for poor accuracy and associated with privacy violations through unauthorised use of personal photographs, the reinforcement of age-related insecurities, and the perpetuation of superficial judgments based on physical appearance.


The app reputedly drew 240 million pictures from 33 million users in four days, but views on the app's accuracy were mixed, with some people reporting it was uncannily accurate, and others lamenting it was 'terrible' and a 'flop'.


Microsoft promised not to retain users' pictures. However, privacy experts expressed concerns that Microsoft's general cloud services agreement contradicted what it said on the app by stating the company could copy, edit and distribute any uploaded pictures for use with their internet services.