(Pocket-lint) - Encrypted messaging app Signal has a new face-blurring tool that is now rolling out to its Android and iOS apps

It's basically a new privacy feature for an app that's solely focused on protecting its users' privacy. If you plan to share pictures through Signal, the blur tool will enable you to quickly blur faces and more. Signal announced it during a time when people are protesting across the US over the killing of George Floyd. And it's suggesting you can use the tool to help protect the privacy of the people in the photos you share. 

How to use the blur tool in Signal

Signal's blur tool appears in the image editor of both the Android and iOS Signal apps. When you go to take a picture, you can select the Blur option in the toolbar. This will tell the app to automatically detect any faces in your image. Should it miss any, you can still manually blur.

In fact, you can blur anything you wish to anonymise. All the processing happens locally, too, so all your un-blurred images stay on-device.


What's the point of Signal's blur tool?

Imagine, for instance, you're at a protest with friends and want to capture the moment while maintaining your friends' privacy and the privacy of those protesting around you. You could use Signal to capture the photo while auto-blurring their faces. While you could use another app to take your photos, those apps likely don't make it easy to hide identities with a tap of a button. 

In a blog post announcing the feature, Signal revealed the protests have led to record downloads of its app, which uses a secure technology called end-to-end encryption to make it incredibly harder for law enforcement or anyone else to intercept your calls and messages.

“We’ve also been working to figure out additional ways we can support everyone in the street right now,” Signal said. “One immediate thing seems clear: 2020 is a pretty good year to cover your face."

When will the blur tool be available?

The update with the blur tool is set to roll out to users globally "as soon as possible" on both the Android and iOS Signal apps.

Want to know more?

Check out Signal's blog post for more details.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.