Portrait mode coming soon to Google Duo, Google Photos

Google Photos portrait mode
Google Photos portrait mode (Image credit: Nick Sutrich/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Duo may soon get a portrait mode that will blur the background to keep you in focus at all times.
  • The Google Photos app may also soon be getting a feature that allows background blurring to creatively separate people from their surroundings using a "bokeh" effect.
  • These were all discovered in the latest Pixel Tips app update, which helps Pixel users get the most out of their phone.

Ever been on a video call and find that the things happening behind you are distracting folks on the other end? How about if someone photo bombed your best vacation picture? You'll soon be able to blur out these annoying background distractions in both Google Duo video calls and in the Google Photos app if the latest additions to the Pixel Tips app are anything to go by. 9to5Google found that some hidden code in the Pixel Tips app, an app on Pixel phones that helps users make the most of their phone, reveals a few rather interesting new features for Google's most-used apps.

First up is Google Duo, the ever-popular video calling app that's become increasingly ingrained into several Android phones and services since it launched in 2016. While Duo is typically used in portrait orientation, which means holding your phone vertically as you normally would, there's never been a way to enable portrait mode for the actual video. Not many video apps utilize this feature because, as Microsoft Teams' integration shows, the background blurring effect usually isn't very good. Judging on how amazing Google's portrait mode can be on its camera app, there's a strong possibility that this will be a great new addition for keeping background distractions at a minimum.

Now how about that whole vacation picture analogy? Photobombing is certainly a thing and, if you've ever had it happen to you, you know it can completely ruin a shot. Sometimes you just need to make focus adjustments to improve the look of a photo. Either way, Google looks to have you covered in the latest Google Photos app update, as a yet-to-be-enabled portrait mode feature will allow you to artificially adjust the subject focus after taking a picture. Considering there's no way to adjust the background blur on some phones after you take the shot, the ability to adjust any photo just by using the Google Photos app is going to be a huge feature update for anyone looking to make their shots a little more dramatic.

Based on the information found in the code of the latest Pixel Tips app update, these features are expected to be added to the Google Photos app and the Google Duo app sometime in a December 2019 update.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu