The news that Apple will soon be able to stick an iPhone on the back of your Mac to get a better webcam made us all laugh yesterday. There was a joke going around that Apple design legend Jony Ive was crying somewhere. Other people questioned whether Apple finally cracked the code after years of grainy MacBook images and the Apple Studio Display's camera failing to impress.
Apple software engineer Karen Xing gave an in-depth explanation of how the new Continuity Camera feature will actually work in WWDC 2022 - and it sounds incredibly impressive. Apple's iPhone could become a full-featured camera for Macs, one that does almost everything you'd expect.
All camera apps should detect your iPhone as a camera and microphone, since macOS will detect both your iPhone and your iPad as cameras. In the big WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple showed off only FaceTime and mentioned Zoom, Teams, and Webex, but developers shouldn't have to make any modifications to their apps to make them work.
No matter what app you choose, you get options such as Portrait Mode, Studio Light, and Center Stage. Your iPhone's battery is located in a drop-down menu in Control Center. iPhones work in any orientation, so you can turn them wherever you want. When you view your iPhone in portrait orientation, you have a zoomed-in effect.
When you put your iPhone down, it won't automatically switch to FaceTime. With Zoom, Xing demonstrated that, and Apple is also offering an automatic camera selection API that can be used by other apps. If you mount your iPhone on a stand and both plug it in or find it nearby by using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, Ventura will automatically switch to your iPhone. It works wired, not just wirelessly. Ideally, USB cables should be used if you're concerned about interference or charging your iPhone.
You can capture pictures and videos with an iPhone app on your Mac, too. Additionally, it is possible to transmit face detection and body detection "metadata," which is both interesting and creepy at the same time. The optimum resolution and frame rate is 1920 x 1440 at 60 frames per second.
Apple's Desk View mode is also supported via an API.To let you show off items on your desk without moving your phone, Apple made it possible to bend and crop images from the iPhone's super-ultrawide lens. Desk View also offers 30 frames per second, 1920 x 1440-resolution video capture.
Those old iPhones sitting in your drawer aren't going to work with any of this. MacOS 13 and iOS 16 are required for continuity camera, according to Xing - but iPhone 6S, 7, first-gen iPhone SE, and earlier models won't receive the iOS 16 update. It would be a pity as that would be a great way to repurpose a phone with no resale value. However, old spare phones can be turned into webcams in other ways.
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