Instagram has released version 39 of its iOS and Android mobile apps, and the update brings with it a background-blurring portrait mode similar to the "Portrait", "Depth" and "Bokeh" modes we have seen on most recent high-end smartphones... with one major twist.

While the baked-in bokeh modes on most smartphones use the slightly offset lenses of a dual-camera setup, or other partly hardware-based methods to create the effect, Instagram's version appears to solely rely on face detection. That means you shouldn't expect perfect subject/background isolation and super-smooth blur transitions, but it also means single-camera phones can take advantage of the feature.

Focus mode is available in the Stories camera UI, right next to “Superzoom”. It works with both front and rear cameras, automatically blurring the background when one or more faces are detected. Focus mode works on the Apple iPhones SE as well as the 6S, 7 and 8 generations and the iPhone X. It is also available on “select Android devices”, which appears to include most current high-end Androids.

In short: Focus mode looks like a nice addition to the Instagram feature set, but if your smartphone offers a native portrait mode you're probably better off using that and inserting the image into Instagram via the gallery or camera roll. To find out more about Focus, head over to the Instagram Press blog or update the app and give the feature a try for yourself.