- Instagram is adding a new portrait feature that blurs the camera's background
- Called 'Focus,' the tool is now available for several iPhone and Android devices
- It's not just limited to selfies, either, as people can also use it on photos of friends
By Annie Palmer For Dailymail.com
Published: 19:29 EDT, 10 April 2018 | Updated: 19:31 EDT, 10 April 2018
Instagram is launching a new Portrait Mode feature that works even if you don't own one of Apple's pricier iPhone models.
Called 'Focus', the feature allows users to take portrait photos, which soften the background once a camera detects a face in its view.
It's not just limited to selfies, either, as Instagram points out that people can use their phone's back-facing camera to take a portrait of a friend.
The feature is now available in Instagram version 39.0, according to the firm.
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Instagram on Wednesday launched a new feature called 'Focus' that lets users take portrait photos, which soften the background once a camera detects a face in the screen
Instagram said the feature is available on iPhone models including the SE, 6S, 6S+, 7, 7+, 8, 8+ and X, in addition to some Android models.
To use the feature, users open the camera on the Instagram app and tap 'Focus' on the bottom toolbar, between 'Boomerang' and 'Superzoom'.
When someone is in the shot, they'll remain in focus as the background of the photo becomes blurred.
'When you're done, you can add creative tools like filters, stickers and text to your photo or video before sending to your friends on Instagram Direct or adding to your story,' the firm explained.
Last month, rumors began to circulate that Instagram was developing a Portrait Mode.
The Focus feature is similar to Apple's Portrait Mode, which rolled out in its iOS 10.1 update in the iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple requires the use of two cameras to achieve Portait Mode effect, also called the 'Bokeh effect,' but Instagram likely uses a software that can achieve the same effect on mobile devices that only have single-lens cameras.
Apple introduced Portait Mode when it rolled out iOS 10.1 update in the iPhone 7 Plus. Instagram's Focus feature is similar to that, but it doesn't require two rear-facing cameras
WHAT IS PORTRAIT MODE?
First launched by Apple for its iOS 10.1 software update in 2016, Portrait Mode is a feature that blurs the background of whatever the user is snapping, to make the object or person being photographed stand out.
The effect, also known as 'bokeh' is easily obtained on DSLR and compact cameras with manual aperture control, but is harder to replicate on a smartphone camera.
Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke which means 'blur' or 'haze'.
According to camera firm Nikon, Bokeh is defined as 'the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.'
To increase the likelihood of visible bokeh in photographs, one should increase the distance between their subject and the background, and this can be done by decreasing the distance between the camera and subject.
In addition to Focus, Instagram also rolled out a @mention sticker on iOS that lets users easily tag their friends in stories posted to their page.
To use the tool, open Instagram's stickers tray, tap the @mention sticker, and type the name of an account you want to tag.
Instagram also rolled out an @mention sticker on iOS that lets users easily tag their friends in stories posted to their page
Users can then rotate, scale and place the sticker wherever they want, Instagram said.
There's no mention of when the @mention stickers will become available to Android users, however.
The features come as Instagram has introduced some tweaks to its algorithm to make sure that users see newer posts first.
Last month, Instagram rolled out an update to its feed that should strike a balance between showing you posts you missed and not letting that bog down newer content.
'With these changes your feed will feel more fresh, and you won't miss the moments you care about,' Instagram says.
'So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.'
In 2016, Instagram changed its algorithm so that newer posts would no longer appear at the top of the feed.
Additionally, Instagram is testing a 'New Posts' button to prevent the app from randomly refreshing and bumping users back to the top. Instead, users can choose to refresh the app
Instagram VP of Product Kevin Weil tweeted out the announcement on Thursday, saying that it was made with 'your feedback top of mind'
As a result, many users complained that they kept seeing the same posts over and over again, or that they'd be shown old posts from several days ago, missing newer posts in the process.
Instagram is also fixing its auto-refresh feature that's been criticized by users.
When users browse the app, at times, it will abruptly refresh and send the user back to the top of the feed.
Instagram mostly refreshes when users leave and return to the app.
But now, Instagram says it's going to tweak the feature so that it only bumps you back up to the top unless you want it to.
The firm is testing a 'New Posts' button that lets users choose when they want to refresh the app.
'Tap the button and you'll be taken to new posts at the top of the feed -- don't tap, and you'll stay where you are,' Instagram says.
'We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable,' the firm added.
Despite the changes, some users were still annoyed that Instagram didn't decide to revert to the old algorithm.
Instagram's vice president of Product Kevin Weil defended the move, however, saying that a chronological feed has its 'weaknesses.'
He noted that there are some benefits to having a mix between reverse chronological feed and a relevancy-based feed.
Rumors began swirling a few months ago that Instagram was thinking about bringing back the chronological feed.
The speculation began after a post was shared by a photographer claiming to be an Instagram employee on the platform.
In it, the user shared a video of his timeline, showing posts in chronological order.
However, Instagram flat out denied that it was testing a chronological feed.
In the end, that turned out to be true, as Instagram is only bringing back some features of the chronological feed.
WHEN DID INSTAGRAM'S CHRONOLOGICAL FEED DISAPPEAR?
In 2016, Instagram introduced an algorithm-based timeline to replace chronological posts.
And users weren't happy. The move spurred a petition for its reversal, and the hashtag #RIPInstagram trended.
When Instagram announced it would abandon its timeline approach, it said: 'People miss on average 70 percent of their feeds.'
To avoid this, the app implemented a new approach that would change the order based on a persons relationships and interests.
As users have grown increasingly frustrated with apps like Instagram and Snapchat, they've also considered turning to alternative social media platforms such as Ello and Vero, which promise to put the user experience first above algorithms
'The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.'
Public opinion turned against the picture-sharing app as users demanded the company reverse the change.
In just days following the announcement, a petition titled Keep Instagram Chronological was born, and it gathered 158,298 supporters in 72 hours.
As users have grown increasingly frustrated with apps like Instagram and Snapchat, they've also considered turning to alternative social media platforms such as Ello and Vero, which promise to put the user experience first above algorithms.