Instagram rolls out portrait mode for photos and videos

Instagram: is one-upping Apple with a portrait mode feature that runs on a wider variety of phones and works with video, not just photos. Last month, TechCrunch reported about a Focus feature buried in Instagram’s code, which began publicly testing a week later. Now Instagram is rolling out Focus, which blurs the background while keeping someone’s face sharp for a stylized, professional photography look. “Focus mode leverages background segmentation and face detection technology,” an Instagram spokesperson told me when asked how it works without the need for dual cameras.

Focus can be found in the Instagram Stories format options alongside Boomerang and Superzoom in both the selfie and rear-facing cameras, and it rolls out globally today on iPhone 6s, 6s+, 7, 7+, 8, 8+ and X, as well as select Android devices. That’s compared to Apple’s portrait mode that only works on the iPhone 7+, 8+, and X, and Android portrait mode that exists on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Instagram’s launch could also suck attention away from “fake portrait mode” apps like Magic Portrait Mode, FabFocus, LightX and Point Blur that can also add blurry background “bokeh effects” to images.

Focus gives people another reason to choose Instagram over Snapchat and could make shooting inside the Instagram app more appealing. After eight years of sunsets and latte art, it’s the selfies and portraits that still feel fresh on Instagram. Making them look as good as possible could keep Instagram from growing stale as it rockets toward 1 billion users.

Meanwhile, Instagram is starting to roll out Mentions stickers that make it easy to tag friends in a Story with a stylized graphics instead of just text. Instagram tested these last month, but now they’re becoming available to all iOS users. Just like adding emoji to photos and videos, you can select the Mention sticker, use the typeahead to find a friend’s username and tag them in a resizable sticker. That lets people tap through to view their profile, and generates a notification to the tagged user.

A New Way To Tag Friends In Stories

Additionally, there’s a new way to mention another Instagram user on iOS. The “@mention” sticker is on the sticker tray. Select it, and find the user just like mentioning them in a photo caption.

Instagram says Focus is available on the iPhone 6S and up and select Android devices as part of an app update rolling out today.

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