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Portrait mode, one of the most interesting features designed for the iPhone 7 Plus, is now available to owners of Apple’s newest, biggest phone.

Apple designed Portrait mode to recreate the attractive, blurry backgrounds common in portrait photography, but the two lenses inside the iPhone 7 Plus don’t create this shallow depth of field effect on their own. Instead, Apple has turned to software to emulate the look. After using the feature for a month (in beta), we found it imperfect, but fun to use.

If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, you can download iOS 10.1 — out today — by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Once you’re on the latest version of iOS, you can find the feature inside your camera app.

Portrait mode isn’t exclusively for photographing people, as the name suggests, but the feature is fussy: It requires good lighting, as well as distance between the photographer and the subject (blurred-background selfies are nearly impossible), and it sometimes blurs out parts of a photo which ought to remain crisp (like the straw, below).

And if you have an iPhone 7, or an older iPhone, we have bad news: The feature is likely to remain an iPhone 7 Plus exclusive. Apple says it needs the two lenses on the latest Plus to identify which parts of a photo to blur.

portrait mode

Above: Portrait mode for iPhone 7 Plus, in action.

Image Credit: Harrison Weber, VentureBeat



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