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. Now, a lot of companies have come forward to offer face blur features while sharing a photo or even videos. 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 is a popular messaging app among US protesters due to strong privacy and message encryption. Recently, to help protestors, the app has also introduced a quick AI-based face blur feature. Here’s how you use the face blur feature.
- Foremost, download and install the Signal app
- 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 as of now.
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. Here’s how you use ObscuraCam.
- 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 videos, ObscuraCam doesn’t detect faces automatically. 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)
PutMask is a recently released app to blur faces in videos. Unlike other apps in this list, PutMask uses AI to automatically blur faces in videos. Here’s how you do it.
- Download the PutMask app from the Google Play Store.
- In the PutMask app, select a video from your Gallery.
- PutMask will detect faces within the video and number them.
- Tap on the number. If you have only 1 face in the video, like mine, you’ll only get 1 number.
- Next, tap on the Start Tracking button.
The app will automatically track the face movement in the video and blur it seamlessly. The only problem I faced with the app is that it just rotates a portrait video. So, to fix it, you’ll have to use a mobile video editor. Moreover, the PutMask app leaves a watermark on your videos. If its bothersome, you can pay a one-time fee of $7.99.
Download PutMask for Android
Now, if you use a MacBook or Windows PC, there’s not many apps that let you blur faces in videos. The quickest option, as of now, is YouTube. Most people aren’t aware of the blur faces option in the YouTube editor. It’s quite effective and takes a couple of seconds. You have to create a “blurred mask” on a moving object and the editor will seamlessly track the face and blur it out.
The only bargain with this method is that you have to upload your videos 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. Click on the Add Blur link at the bottom. You would have 2 options – Blur faces, Custom blurring. In our case, 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.
The only caveat with this method, as I said in the beginning, is uploading videos to YouTube and Google’s server. The original video will exist on 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.