If you like using Portrait mode for selfies on your iPhone, there’s a hidden feature you need to check out that adds a shallow depth of field effect to video when using the front-facing camera in FaceTime and even third-party apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Zoom.
Apple first included the portrait-style video effect for selfies in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 for its FaceTime app, but it also opened up the video effect to third-party developers.
The effect for the front camera uses the Neural Engine, “plus a trained monocular depth network to approximate a real camera with a wide-open lens,” according to Apple. Due to the complex computational algorithm, the effect is limited to video with a max resolution of 1920×1440 pixels and a max frame rate of 30 fps to keep performance responsive.
While any app that can capture selfie videos can opt in to incorporating the feature, all apps that use the Voice over Internet Protocol background mode automatically have the portrait video effect available for you to use.
Instagram and Snapchat may not sound like VoIP apps, but they do include video chatting capabilities, so you’ll be able to use the portrait video effect in them. The effect also works on Facebook, Messenger, some live streaming apps like Twitch, and video conferencing tools like Google Meet. When the feature isn’t automatically enabled for an app, the app developer needs to add a new key to the app’s Info.plist file for NSCameraPortraitEffectEnabled.
The portrait video effect works on iPhone and iPad models with an A12 Bionic or newer chip running iOS or iPadOS 15 or later. It even works on all Mac computers with Apple Silicon running 12 Monterey or later. You can see the complete list of compatible Apple devices at the end of this article.
To access the portrait video effect — or to see if the effect is available — open up the camera inside the app for live streaming, shooting a story, video chatting, etc. Then, make sure you switch to the front-facing camera.
The effect works in the primary camera when making stories on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or Snapchat, as well as for video calls in chats that offer video chats.
With your face visible in the camera feed, open up Control Center, and you’ll see two new buttons: “Video Effects” and “Mic Mode.” Tap “Video Effects,” then select “Portrait” to turn the feature on. (This is also how you would disable it.) With it on, close Control Center, and your background should be blurred.
You can also snap photos with the portrait video effect in apps that support it.
You can use the Control Center method in FaceTime, but Apple has provided a quicker way. Whenever you’re active in a FaceTime call, tap your tile to expand it, and you’ll see an icon of a person — tapping that button will turn the portrait video effect on, and tapping again will disable it. You’ll also see the icon when making a FaceTime call so you can start the effect before anyone even picks up.
- iPhone SE (2nd generation and later)
- iPhone XR
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 mini
- iPhone 13
- iPhone 13 Pro
- iPhone 13 Pro Max
- iPad mini (5th generation and later)
- iPad (8th generation and later)
- iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (all generations)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
- Mac Studio (2022)
- MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021)
- MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021)
- iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)
- Mac mini (M1, 2020)
- MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
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