You can throw the webcam in the trash. Apple swept it. I am intrigued by this update

When Apple at the WWDC conference showed a new macOS feature that allows you to turn an iPhone into a webcam, the world was swept by a wave of ridicule and crude jokes. I laughed along with others, meanwhile for the last few days I have been a satisfied user of this feature.

One of the funniest memes I saw on the occasion of the announcement of the mentioned news said that Apple puts such weak cameras in its laptops that you need an iPhone to even be visible to the interlocutor.

This is of course a gross abuse, because 720p is still the market standard, not just for Apple. We have such a camera, for example, in a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Apple M2 processor. The iMac 24 M1, which got a 1080p camera, is a bit better. The Apple Studio screen with a 12-megapixel sensor is in the front. The differences are naturally due to the different nature of the equipment.

Mac Mini users who do not use Apple Studio Display must rely on external cameras. The photo of them might look like this (on behalf of the manufacturer of the camera below, I apologize that I look in the photo like I haven’t washed my hair in a month):

Or better like this (sorry for the disgusted face here, but the picture is so terrible that there is nothing to smile about):

Of course, they can spend more money on a better quality webcam, then the picture can be like this.

The thing is, someone who doesn’t spend half of their day on video conferencing isn’t going to invest in expensive equipment. Especially when he has an iPhone at hand (yes, it is many times more expensive!) And it can look like this (not unique, but at least somehow):

iPhone as a webcam – how does it work?

As it is with Apple, almost maintenance free. The image is sent wirelessly. When we open the FaceTime application, the system detects an iPhone nearby and suggests using it. Alternatively, we can go to the Video tab and select the iPhone camera manually. It works similarly in other messengers.

This is how it looks in Microsoft Teams:

If the feature doesn’t work, go to iPhone Settings > General > AirPlay and Handoff and check if the Continuity Camera option is turned on.

Turning the iPhone into a webcam has its advantages, not only because of the quality of the transferred image. For example, we can use the effects of:

If we choose Center of Attention – then the camera will focus on us and “follow” us. Portrait mode blurs the background, Studio light adds a filter (if that makes sense, that’s a separate issue). The most interesting feature, however, is the view from the table top. When we turn it on, the image will change to the part of the desktop where we can display e.g. notes.

iPhone as a webcam – who needs it?

I separated the webcam from my monitor because after switching to macOS Ventura it is no longer possible look down difference. Of course, this does not change a few obvious facts:

  • first, when Apple presented a new feature, it was shown on the example of a MacBook, which can actually be perceived in the way described at the beginning.
  • second, the iPhone is probably 10 times more expensive than an average quality webcam and about 40 times more than the cheap devices of this type available in any electronics market.

It does not change the fact that in the usage scenario I have mentioned (I admit, perhaps a narrow one), when we use the webcam occasionally and in addition have an iPhone at hand, such a function is a very good alternative and solves the problem of poor video quality.

You can throw the webcam in the trash. Apple swept it. I am intrigued by this update

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