Facebook now lets you create 3D photos without a portrait mode camera

Imagine if every photo in your Facebook news feed looked alive, like something out of a Harry Potter universe newspaper.

That’s the reality Facebook is moving toward with a new feature that makes 3D photos available to everyone. First launched in 2018, the feature let people give their photos the appearance of a “moving” 3D background, provided the source image was shot using some manner of portrait mode.

Support for 3D photos arrived on Facebook right around the time that dual-lens smartphone cameras  popularized the feature called portrait mode, which captures a foreground subject in great detail while artistically blurring the background. Facebook’s platform could then use the extra data in those image files to create an enhanced image in which the background appears to move.

See for yourself, from Facebook’s original announcement.

Now, in a Facebook blog post, the company confirms that portrait mode photos are no longer necessary. With the help of artificial intelligence, your boring, old 2D photos can now join the 3D party as well.

No joke: Any photo you have, no matter how old, should play nice with Facebook’s newly upgraded 3D photos. “This system infers the 3D structure of any image, whether it is a new shot just taken on an Android or iOS device with a standard single camera, or a decades-old image recently uploaded to a phone or laptop,” the blog post reads.

The post goes into a significant amount of detail on how the new process works, and it offers some examples so you can see the results for yourself. The short version is: Facebook’s neural network looks at your photo and makes educated guesses on the depth of each pixel, a process that previously required the added data from a portrait mode image.

The only catch is, to use the feature you’ll need “an iPhone 7 or higher, or a recent midrange or better Android device” as well as a willingness – and this might be a dealbreaker for some – to use the Facebook app. The feature only works inside the app. But the update is live and ready to go, so give it a whirl if you meet these requirements.

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