2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face, be it due to COVID-19 or the latest US protest against racism and police violence. To help with that a lot of companies have come forward to offer face blur as a built-in feature. So, with all of that, here are the best apps to blur faces in photos and videos during a protest.
Best Apps to Blur Faces
Signal, a popular messaging app has become quite popular as US protesters are looking for message encryption. And recently the app introduced a quick AI-based face blur feature.
To use it, download and install the Signal app if you haven’t already (link below). Once you open the Signal app, you would see a camera icon on the home page. Tap on it and snap a quick picture. Alternatively, you can tap on the bottom-left corner to use an old picture from your gallery. Once the image pops up, you will see a “Blur Faces” icon that looks like a checkered circle on the top. Tap on it and turn on the “Blur Faces” toggle
Signal does a pretty good job of detecting faces and blurring them out. However, at times it does leave out faces in the shadows and dark. Thankfully, you can use your hand and scrub on the faces to manually blur them. The only caveat is Signal doesn’t work with videos.
ObscuraCam is an app developed by the Guardian Project, the organization behind the popular Tor browser. The app is designed to blur faces in photos and videos.
To use ObscuraCam, simply install the app on your Android smartphone (unfortunately, it’s not available for iOS). The home page of the app shows images and videos from your device. You can tap on any picture and it’ll automatically detect faces in it and pixelate it. Next, you can adjust the position, amount of pixelation, etc before saving the photo. You can also manually tap on faces to pixelate them. In terms of videos, the process is a bit manual. You have to manually tap on the faces as you go through the video. You also have to move the mask and it tracks the path.
Compared to Signal, ObscuraCam does an average job in blurring faces in photos. In terms of videos, the efforts are manual, processing takes a long time, and results are not something to boast about.
3. Mosaic Pixelate Censor Photo
Mosaic Pixelate Censor Photo is another face blur app available for Android users. Compared to the above 2 apps, it doesn’t automatically blur faces and you have to do the hard work manually. The app is quite minimal with 4 basic options – Pixelate, Blur, Color, and Reset. You just have to pick a photo from your gallery and scrub on the faces to blur it. I like the Reset toggle within the app that takes everything to default.
Download Mosaic Pixelate Censor Photo (Android)
Most people aren’t aware of the ‘blur faces’ option in the YouTube editor, however, it’s quite effective and takes a couple of seconds and creates a “blurred mask” on a moving object. The only bargain is that you have to upload your video to Google’s server. If you can get past that, YouTube does an awesome job in blurring faces. All you have to do is upload your photo to YouTube via this link on your computer. The YouTube video editor is not accessible through the smartphone.
Once the video is uploaded, publish it as private. Next, head over to the Videos tab and click on the Edit button.
Navigate to the Editor tab on the left-hand side and click on the “Add Blur” link at the bottom. You would have 2 options – Blur faces, Custom blurring. Select the “Blur faces” option.
Now, the Google algorithm will process the video for a while and detect the faces in the video. Once that’s done, you will have the option to choose those faces and blur them. The result is amazingly good.
As I said, in the beginning, the only caveat with this method is uploading videos to YouTube and Google’s server.
In case you are good with the command line, you can also try a bunch of Python tools like Blurry Faces. They do a pretty good job of identifying and blurring faces in videos. These tools are also safe since they can function offline.
For other people, Signal and Mosaic Blur Censor Photo is a good option. In case of issues or queries, let me know in the comments below.