Zoom PWA for Chromebook gains blur and virtual backgrounds

Zoom PWA virtual background on Chromebook

I don’t know when it happened, but the Zoom PWA for Chromebook gained a new trick that brings it closer to a full desktop experience. Yup, you can now blur what’s behind you or use a virtual background in the Zoom web client.

I haven’t been keeping up with the Zoom PWA after it arrived last June, as I’m more of a Google Meet guy.

But one of our readers, Chris, clued me into the latest upgrade that brings these visual treats to Chrome OS.

In fact, if you open up the Zoom PWA on your Chromebook and log in, you should see the new features highlighted:

Zoom PWA blur and virtual background feature on Chrome OS

Just click that Settings button to choose either a blur or a magical place for you to “be” on your video chat. There are only a few virtual backgrounds, although there is an option to upload your own.

Given that we’ve all been stuck mostly at home for the last two years, I suspect any recent photos will show the same room as you’d be in anyway.

Zoom PWA virtual background options

Zoom does caution users that this feature could cause performance degradation on lower-powered hardware. If you have a budget Chromebook then, I’d still give it a try. You’ll want to keep an eye out for any additional audio or video lag on that Zoom call, though.

Even on a higher-end device, don’t expect miracles here. With the Core i5 and 16 GB of memory in my daily driver, Zoom didn’t get the outline quite right during my testing. There’s a bit of gray blur as the progressive web app tries to filter out my background. Of course, the camera in my Chromebook is getting on in age. And it isn’t the highest quality sensor out there. So you may have better luck than I did.

Since this is a PWA, there’s nothing to download if you already have the Zoom app for Chromebook installed. I didn’t need to update it or do anything special: I just clicked my Zoom app shortcut and saw the new feature.

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5 thoughts on “Zoom PWA for Chromebook gains blur and virtual backgrounds

  1. Yes, a potential drawback to using PWAs is that updates may often occur seamlessly and undetected because they don’t involve downloading. I can’t believe that I just wrote that sentence.🙃

    I noticed the changes in Zoom 2 or 3 weeks ago, burried in Settings. I now have mirrored view! There are also virtual backgrounds, including blurred. Handraising is also a single click now. It took quite a while, but they listened to their customers. Imagine that.

  2. It looks like they have also now added sharing of audio when you screen-share a tab or your screen.
    I saw a notification of this also as a new feature.
    Another key zoom feature for which Chromebooks are no longer a second class citizen ;o)

  3. Is this going to work in Samsung Chromebook 4? My Chromebook has lower specs, but if Zoom can provide Virtual Background in this slower machine smoothly, I don’t need to change laptop every time get a meeting.

    1. I thought I read on a zoom support page somewhere that they warned of possible poor performance if you enable virtual backgrounds etc unless your processor has 4 threads or 4 cores. Your Samsung Chromebook 4 has a Celeron N4000 which has 2 cores / 2 threads.
      It may struggle, but it’s worth a try to see how well it goes. It may be fine, or you may find you need to be careful with how many other tabs you have going.
      Try testing it out.

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