Chromebook owners are getting a cool free ChromeOS video call upgrade

Better video calling is coming with some distinctly Mac-like features

Three people sitting around table with two Chromebooks
(Image credit: Brooke Cagle Unsplashed )

I've been working from home since forever, but in the last couple of years the move to video meetings instead of real ones has caused me real problems: as a parent of two kids and a dog, my flat is always an absolute bomb site that I don't want clients or colleagues to see.

So I'm very glad for the tools in Teams, Zoom and other conferencing apps on my Mac that enable me to blur the background. It's a lot faster than a tidy-up and cheaper than any cleaner – and if you're the owner or user of one of the best Chromebooks, it looks like the feature is coming to your laptop or 2-in-1 very soon.

According to 9to5Google (opens in new tab), newly discovered code inside the ChromeOS system indicates that background blur is coming to Chrome: there's a feature labelled "vc background blur" that's currently switched off but will enable "background blur feature for video conferencing on Chromebooks".

Which Chromebooks will be getting video background blur?

9to5Google has been doing some digging and reports that so far, Google has been testing blur on Chromebooks running 11th and 12th generation Intel processors, taking advantage of their support for machine learning. That suggests the feature might not be coming to older Chromebooks,

On a happier note, it seems that background blur isn't the only video feature Google is working on: there are also references to Portrait Lighting and subject framing, the latter of which would keep you in the frame when you're chatting. 

I wouldn't expect these new features to drop in the next few weeks, but it's clear that Google is recognising how important video calling has become for both work and social contact and intends to beef up its Chromebooks accordingly; if the features are currently in testing then we should see them rolling out in a matter of months rather than years. 

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).