(Credit: Google)

Before Google added depth editing in Portrait mode to its Pixel devices, Apple's iPhone camera was the envy of smartphone photographers when it pioneered the DSLR-like photo technique. Google rolled out adjustable bokeh intensity in Portrait mode in the Google Photos app last month for Android users.

Google has now added the new feature to the iOS version of its Google Photos app (iOS, Android), which can be used to store, organize, backup, and access your digital photos across platforms. The company explained how to use the new editor on Twitter.

"Just pull up a portrait photo in Google Photos, click the editing icon to get to the editing menu, then tap it one more time to edit depth and focus," Google said.

SEE: Google Photos app launches new editing features and Live Albums

Along with the depth editor, Google Photos added the Color Pop option to the iOS app. The feature removes the background color of your photo so the subject "pops"--professional photographers often refer to this effect as "selective color." In Google Photos, Portrait mode is required for Color Pop.

The Google Photos app recognizes pictures that have been taken in Apple's version of Portrait mode and gives the iOS app the same capabilities that the Google Pixel offers in Google Photos for Android. tried the new Color Pop effect and found it to be a little buggy. On the iPhone XS Max, the filter created a hazy background and an echo of the subject (see the photo to the right). The black and white background didn't seem to know where to stop--and the circle that you can drag to tell the AI where to place the color didn't help much.

When tried on the Pixel 3, the filter had a better effect. Moving your finger on the screen while in the filter helped better direct where color should be, though not perfectly.

It seems best results are attained when the subject is clearly in the foreground.

Until Color Pop gets smarter in later updates, you'll likely have better luck using the Color Splash app on iOS or the Color Splash Effect app on Android. Those apps do a more precise job of isolating the black and white background from the colored object in the foreground.

While Google is rolling out the new features to iOS users, the company also said it hopes to expand the photo editing features to older Android phones.


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  1. Google is adding depth editing and Color Pop to the iOS version of Google Photos.
  2. The features let users blur the background or remove background color for the image's subject to stand out more in Portrait mode.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.