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This article was published on April 10, 2018

Instagram’s new Focus tool brings portrait mode to most iPhones and some Androids

Instagram’s new Focus tool brings portrait mode to most iPhones and some Androids
Rachel Kaser
Story by

Rachel Kaser

Internet Culture Writer

Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback riding. Check her Twitter for curmudgeonly criticisms.

Instagram is rolling out a dedicated portrait mode within its app called Focus, allowing users to take portraits even on phones which don’t have a portrait setting of their own.

To use Focus, open your Instagram Story and swipe to the option under the “Record” button — it’ll be next to “Superzoom.” After you do, focus your camera on a person, and the photo will automatically bring the person into focus while blurring the background. From there, you can take artistic selfies or videos to your heart’s content — and add filters and such after the fact too.

According to Instagram, this will be available for all generations of iPhone from the 6S to the X, as well as “select Android devices.” Among Apple devices, only the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X have an official portrait mode. For the others, it’s neat to see Instagram is giving you options beyond your phone’s usual capabilities.

That means Instagram is likely using a purely AI-based system for depth sensing – this is how the Pixel camera achieves portrait mode on its selfie shooter (or when ported to other devices). For the phones that do have their own portrait mode, Instagram doesn’t specify whether it’s using AI only or combining the technologies. We’ve contacted Instagram for more information.

In addition to Focus, Instagram is also rolling out Mentions to iOS users, which allows users to tag their friends by putting a sticker with their handle on it in the picture. While IG has had text mentions for a while, this is infinitely more fun to look at. Also, if this feature sounds familiar, it’s because Snapchat debuted a similar feature last week. Some things never change.

Both Focus and Mentions are rolling out starting today.

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