ChromeOS configured to get background blur and other video calling features

As video calling apps have become essential for performing modern work, ChromeOS is gearing up to enhance these apps with background blur and other useful tools.

In recent years, much of the work has moved online, especially meetings. Even meeting friends is made easier with video apps like Google Meet, Zoom, etc.

Some apps offer their own ways to enhance your video with effects that can swap out your background, blur your surroundings, or adjust the amount of light in your room. Meanwhile, some newer devices like Macs with Apple Silicon include built-in video effects like portrait blur and “Center Stage” cropping that work on any app that uses your camera.

It looks like Google’s ChromeOS team is looking to replicate macOS’ built-in video camera effects, according to a new code change. Things will start with a built-in background blur option, initially locked behind a feature flag.

Enable vc background blur

Enables background blur for video meetings on Chromebooks.

#vc-background-blur

From what we can piece together, background blur will be powered by machine learning, which may mean it will only be available on newer ChromeOS devices. Currently, Google is testing background blur effects on Chromebooks with 11th and 12th Gen Intel processors.

It’s also possible that background blur isn’t the only video effect coming to ChromeOS. In a comment, a Googler mentions testing Google Camera’s built-in “portrait relighting” effect on Pixel phones, as well as an “AUTO_FRAMING” feature that resembles what Google Duo offers.

The background blur and portrait relighting effects seem to be coming as part of a larger plan to improve video calling apps on ChromeOS. Through some other code changes [1, 2], we see that ChromeOS can start monitoring the start of a video call in an app like Zoom or Google Meet. Things are in a pretty early state at the moment, but it looks like it’s planned to show warnings if your network becomes unstable during a call, along with a few other features that we can’t quite pin down.

Overall, it’s clear that Google recognizes the importance of video calling and wants to ensure that new Chromebooks can compete with Windows and Mac computers. Given the very early state of these features, it may take a few more months of development before they arrive for more Chromebook owners.

How often do you use video calling apps on your Chromebook? Would you use built-in video effects instead of app-specific effects? Let us know in the comments.

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