Apple announced many features during the WWDC 2022 keynote for every device in the Apple Ecosystem like Stage Manager, Messages Edit, Unsend, and many other features.
But the feature that definitely caught people’s eyes is the ability to use your iPhone as a webcam. Apple had a special clip that you could use to place the iPhone over the display. In this post, I’m gonna walk you through the different ways to use your iPhone as a webcam in your MAC.
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It’s based on this new technology Continuity camera which enables features like this and also where you can hand off facebook calls from one device to another. Adding these features helps you use Apple products seamlessly and is a major sales driver when it comes to the Apple ecosystem.
Why this feature?
Mac webcams have always not been that great. After years of not-good cameras, we got the 1080p camera recently in a mac Computer. So, it’s natural to think that Mac would prefer to use iPhones as webcams since iPhone cameras are definitely superior to any cameras on laptops or monitors.
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For years, there have been so many apps that could be used as an alternative where both the iPhone and the computer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and can access the phone’s video feed using the connected IP.
How does Continuity Camera work?
Actually, if you have iOS 16 and macOS Ventura installed already in both your mac computer and iPhone. All you have to do is to bring the iPhone close to the Mac where you want to use the iPhone camera as a webcam. Once you bring it closer, you will get a prompt as soon as you bring the iPhone closer to the Mac. Accepting that will turn your iPhone into a webcam.
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For this to work, both the mac computer and the iPhone must be logged in with the same Apple ID and preferably connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Even though the connection is wireless between the two devices, Apple has offered their own stand which lets you clip the iPhone to the monitor of the computer where a webcam would sit normally.
It was demonstrated on the Keynote but as of now, there is no information on the price of this stand in the Apple Store.
Apple Fixes the hideous webcam problem
Since iPhone cameras are superior to webcams, Apple has solved a major problem when it comes to video conferencing because people have been trying to use DSLRs as a webcam which let’s face it, is not a permanent or even a portable solution.
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With this addition to the macOS & iOS software, you can easily turn your iPhone into a high-quality webcam. If you are already in the Apple Ecosystem, then all you need to do is to ensure that you have that clip and you are updated to the latest software. As of July 2022, we have a beta release for both macOS Ventura & iOS 16. You can sign up for that to get a not-so-stable version on your device.
If you choose to wait for the public release, then you can do so when it comes out probably in late September.
Desk View is special
In addition to the webcam model, there is also something called Desk View which basically uses image computation to convert your iPhone webcam into a top-down camera for your desk. It’s quite spectacular how Apple has succeeded in making this a reality.
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Like everything else at the first iteration, it’s not perfect and there are definitely some issues around the edge when it comes to Desk View. But it’s needless to say that they have done a great job. This Desk View is possible because of the ultrawide angle lens that comes along with the iPhone.
The Desk View is a great way to show off your DIY projects and even share via video your visual writing aids without the need for any special devices.
At the moment, the Continuity camera works with FaceTime and Photo Booth but Apple mentioned in the keynote that it will be opening up the API for third-party developers to incorporate this in their applications. It was mentioned that it works in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and also Webex in the WWDC keynote.
Compatibility for Continuity camera
One thing about the continuity camera is the issue of compatibility. This feature is not expected to work with all iPhones since it requires a little sophisticated camera for this to work properly. So, if you have an iPhone XR or later, (devices that were released in 2019 or later) then it should work fine. The point is that your iPhone needs an Ultrawide camera for this feature to work.
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Even though devices like iPhone SE (2020) & iPhone SE 2022 came out after 2019, they won’t be able to support the Continuity feature because of the lack of the ultrawide angle lens.
Other Ways to use iPhone as a Webcam
Now, that we have Apple coming up with this amazing feature that works perfectly, it has its own limitations when it comes to having the proper devices and being part of the ecosystem. So, how do we handle scenarios where you might not have an iPhone or a Mac computer. What to do in that situation? We will explore some of the alternative ways and tools in the section to overcome this problem.
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With the pandemic of 2020, the demand for video conferencing apps has skyrocketed in the past two years. People have come up with ways and apps to make their video conferencing experience better like adding high-quality audio and video accessories.
Reincubate Camo is a great solution when it comes to using your smartphone as a webcam. It works seamlessly on popular platforms like iPhone, Android, Mac, or Windows. You can easily integrate with more than 40 video-conferencing apps like Google Meet, Zoom, FaceTime, and even Discord.
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It’s free of cost and needless to say that it’s well maintained and supported by the developers even today.
Steps to use Camo app on your iPhone to use as Webcam
In this section, we will see how to set up and use Camo on any of your devices. Depending on the device you have, follow the steps and you will be able to use your smartphone as a webcam in no time.
- First things first, download the Camo app on your Mac or Windows computer. Once that’s done, you need to do it on the smartphone be it an iPhone or an Android device. Camo apps need at least iOS 12, Android 7, macOS 10.13, or later to get installed.
- Once installations are done successfully, open the app both on the smartphone and also the computer. You need to plug in the cable and then click on Get Started in the Camo app.
- If you are using an Android smartphone, you will have to enable the USB debugging mode. In order to do this, head over to the Settings app and choose About Phone. Tap on the build number several times to enable Developer Mode. Then you can access developer mode through Settings -> System -> Developer mode. After that enable USB Debugging in the Same menu. This will ensure that connecting to a computer via USB cable works without any glitch.
- Connecting the cable should be enough. Open the camera app and place it in the background and also Camo on the computer. Now you will start seeing your rear camera on the Computer.
- So, when you are in a Zoom or any video conferencing call, change the video source to Camo and the video feed from the smartphone will become the webcam feed in the video call.
That’s it. It’s super easy to use Camo and it works perfectly fine on all of your devices.
DroidCam is another popular app that works the same way except it has no MacOS Support at the moment. So, you can use an iPhone or Android phone camera as a Webcam on a Windows or Linux computer.
It works both wireless and Wired but it’s advised to use wired if you want to save some phone battery. In the section below, let’s see how we can use the DroidCam app.
- First things first, download the Droidcam from the App Store if you are an iPhone user and from the Play Store if you are an Android user. Since it doesn’t support Mac computers, for the purpose of the tutorial we’ll focus only on the Windows platform. Download the DroidCam client for Windows as well.
- Ensure that the windows computer and the smartphone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Open the Droidcam app and make sure it has camera permission.
- Once the camera is working fine, you will see some IP and Port information on the Android phone. Enter those details in the DroidCam app on the Windows computer like Device IP and DroidCam Port. Once you have entered those details, click Start.
- If everything is done well, the camera will start automatically in the smartphone Droidcam app and then you can see the video feed of the phone on the Windows DroidCam app.
- Now you can choose the Droidcam camera client as the preferred video feed in whichever video conferencing app you use like Zoom, Google Meet, etc.,
Top WebCam Apps to use iPhone as a Webcam
Now that we have seen the alternative options in the webcam space, we will look at the list of some of the apps that are big players in the market. I might not be getting into how these apps work and all, but it’s good to know the alternative options and can definitely come in handy.
Some of these have their pros and cons and I would advise you to choose wisely based on the devices you own and also the budget you have in mind. There are some apps that don’t support wireless connectivity. So, keep that in mind if you are planning to stream events using iPhone or Android phones as a webcam.
iVCam is a great alternative to Droidcam and Camo. It works both wirelessly and also with a webcam. The mobile app is available for both iOS and Android phones but the desktop app is there only for PCs.
The camera app supports up to 4K resolutions and high resolutions work perfectly with a wired connection. In addition to that, the app lets you adjust exposure, frame rates, and even ISO.
Unfortunately, iVCam is not free but it has a free trial you need to pay $9.99 for an annual subscription or if you choose to take up a permanent lifetime subscription, then it would cost about $24.99. This is perfect except for the fact that it doesn’t support Mac computers.
NDI HX Camera
The second one I have for you is NDI HX Camera. It’s super easy to set up and use like DroidCam or iVCam. The compatibility is for iOS and Android smartphones and when it comes to computers, NDI HX Camera is supported only in macOS.
The biggest disadvantage of the NDI HX Camera is that it works only in a wired scenario via a USB cable. If you are planning to stream an event via Zoom or any other conferencing platform, NDI HX Camera might not be the choice for you. But once hooked via cable, NDI HX Camera works like a charm.
In addition to that, there are other features like Blurring background and so much more. When it comes to pricing NDI HX Camera is free but if you upgrade to the NDI HX Camera Live Plus premium version, then you will get features like Low light mode, Soften style, and even video editing features alongside an advertisement-free experience.
But the premium will cost you either $29.99/year or $4.99/month.
EpocCam is another popular option in the webcam space. EpocCam is available only for iOS smartphones but on the desktop side, it supports both macOS and also Windows devices. If you are an Android user, this might not be for you.
It’s super easy to use and it’s developed by Kinoni and you can download the appropriate installers from their site. Like most all the alternatives that I mentioned above, you need to connect both the smartphone and also the mac/windows device to the same Wi-Fi network.
Downloads the app from the App Store of your iPhone and when you load the app, it works very similarly to the AirDrop feature in the iPhone/Mac devices. Once you open the app, you will find the app looking for devices to pair with that are connected to the same network.
Once connected you can choose to use either the rear or front camera in the iPhone. The free version of the EpocCam supports only up to 640 x 480 resolution but if you choose to purchase the paid app which costs only $7.99 as a one-time payment, you will get to use up to 1080p resolution and other features like using Flash as light source, HDR video, and so many more features.
NeuralCam Live is the last app that I have for you on this list. This is the only app that has features that are more than the bare minimum for a webcam app. NeuralCam Live comes with AI-based features even in the free version.
The major issue with NeuralCam Live is the fact that it works only with a USB cable and has no support for wireless connectivity. Another issue is the fact that it supports only iOS and macOS devices. But it has the capacity to work seamlessly once it’s connected. So, for Android users, you might have to look for other solutions. Features like Head bubble and soften mode are definitely noticeable even in the free version of NeuralCam Live.
If you are planning to use it via the browser, then you need to use Chrome or Firefox because NeuralCam doesn’t work in the Safari browser. The free version is available to use but if you upgrade, then NeuralCam Live Plus gives you additional features for $29.99/year or $4.99/month. If you are in the Apple ecosystem, I think that is valuable to invest in apps like this.
Personally, I don’t think these apps matter to iOS users anymore because Apple customers tend to use their native features if they exist because Apple tends to build features that work well and seamlessly without flaws.
The fact that Android users are not getting standard features like this with Windows compatibility is a sad situation. Apple seems to be taking the lead in ecosystem building and seamless integration between devices.
What do you guys think? Do let us know in the comments below.