How to use your phone as a webcam on Mac or Windows

How to use your phone as a webcam on Mac or Windows
Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe, to use your phone as a webcam (Belkin)

Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe, to use your phone as a webcam (Belkin)

With macOS Ventura on sale today (October 24), Apple has introduced a brilliant new feature: the ability to use your iPhone as a webcam.

Despite the obvious positives of many Londoners’ new hybrid work setup, there is one major downside: more video meetings. It’s no coincidence that webcam sales spiked during the 2020 lockdown as people realized their flimsy work-from-home setup was failing them.

Good webcams are expensive, so why not use your phone instead? Why put up with the noisy, low-quality image provided by your average webcam when even mid-range phones have a much better camera that just isn’t used?

Yes, there are downsides: you can’t use your phone during meetings if it’s now your camera, and you might consider it an unnecessary drain on battery life. But, with the best webcams Costing hundreds of pounds, this is a simple way to improve your call quality without spending a dime.

How to use your iPhone as a webcam on Mac

With iOS 16, Apple introduced a brilliant feature called “continuity chamber” where your Mac or MacBook can automatically and wirelessly switch to your iPhone’s camera when it’s in range.

There are a few things you need to make it work. First of all, you need the right software, which is iOS 16 and macOS Ventura. The first came with the iPhone 14 and the second came out today.

Second, you need both your Mac and iPhone to sign in with the same Apple ID and use 2FA. Third, they both need WiFi and Bluetooth enabled.

Finally, you need to make sure Continuity Camera is enabled on your iPhone. Open the Settings app, then tap “General” followed by “AirPlay & Handoff” and “Continuity Webcam.” Make sure the toggle is on.

If everything is in order, just bring your iPhone closer to your Mac when you open FaceTime, Zoom, or any other video app that uses your camera. Your Mac should automatically connect to your iPhone’s camera, but if it doesn’t, simply select the video preferences for your app and select your iPhone from the list of available cameras.

How to use any smartphone as a webcam

That’s only a workaround if you have an iPhone that will be running iOS 16 and a Mac, of course. What about those using an Android phone, an older iPhone, and/or a Windows PC?

There are a few options here and while you have to pay to unlock advanced features, some will offer core functionality for free.

Reincubate camouflage it’s one of those options, though it doesn’t offer the wireless convenience of the continuity camera. It works with Android, iPhone, macOS, and Windows, and the free version will let you use the front or rear cameras with up to 720p streaming.

The paid option unlocks access to more lenses, portrait mode, zoom controls, focus adjustments, and more. It costs £4.39 per month, £34.99 per year, or is available for life with a one-time payment of £69.98

If you are satisfied with the paid software, then NDI HX Camera it’s cheaper overall and requires a one-time payment of £17.99 on Android or iOS.

It’s a wireless solution and as long as your phone and computer (Windows only) are on the same network, the live feed from your smartphone camera can be streamed directly to the video calling software of your choice.

Finally, DroidCam offers a super cheap free one-time payment option of £4.99 if you can handle the slightly less flashy interface. It works wirelessly if you’re okay with battery life, but currently only compatible with Windows and Linux systems; sorry Mac users.

Keeping it stable and improving sound quality

We wrote earlier that you don’t need to spend a penny, and that’s true, but you may want to, for quality of life reasons.

The main problem with using your phone as a webcam is positioning. Webcams can often be lacking in the quality department, but at least they are designed with viewing angles and stability in mind. The same is not true for your smartphone.

The most elegant solution is for iPhone 12 and later, where the phone can be held on top of a MacBook screen via MagSafe with Belkin’s £29.95 Continuity Camera Accessory (in the photo at the top of the page). But, if you have an older iPhone or Android device, you can always invest in something a bit more utilitarian, like a gooseneck phone holdera table stand, or a mini tripod.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that while your phone’s camera may be better than your PC’s, its microphone isn’t, so consider buying a USB model for your PC or Mac. better than the one on your phone, but the blue snowball ICE offers excellent sound quality at a reasonable price.

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