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Google Meet for Android preparing background blur option

As of the end of last month, Google Meet (née Hangouts Meet) is officially free for everyone, not just those with a paid G Suite account, to help the millions of people now working from home every day. To help those of us with messier homes than others, it looks like the Google Meet app for Android is preparing to launch background blur.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

For years, apps with video conferencing like Microsoft Teams have offered the option to blur your background, giving your video the bokeh effect that can effectively (and artistically) cover the chaos that may be happening behind you. Even Duo, Google’s competitor to FaceTime, has had its own background blur option as “portrait mode” since the end of last year, while Google Meet has been thus far left out of the fun.

Today, Google Meet version 41.5 began rolling out via the Play Store, with the only noteworthy change being the addition of four strings that mention background blur.

<string name=”background_blur_disabled”>Background blur turned off</string>

<string name=”background_blur_enabled”>Background blur turned on</string>

<string name=”turn_off_background_blur”>Turn off background blur</string>

<string name=”turn_on_background_blur”>Turn on background blur</string>

From these it seems clear that Google is preparing to at least test the option to automatically blur your background in Meet calls, starting with the Android app. When background blur will start appearing in the app is unknown, but Google typically announces details of new features for products like these to G Suite admins before they launch.

Of course, Google Meet gaining background blur would still put it far behind their biggest competitor, Zoom, which offers the option to completely replace your background with an image or video of your choosing.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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