Home Technology Thanks to macOS Ventura and iOS 16, the iPhone becomes the best...

Thanks to macOS Ventura and iOS 16, the iPhone becomes the best webcam on the Mac


After abandoning Mac webcams to their sad fate for years, Apple ended up improving them thanks to (or because of?) the health crisis that generated an explosion in video meetings. Despite these efforts for which the manufacturer has enlisted the capabilities of the neural engine and the image processor of the M1 chips, the results are still a notch or two below what the photo sensors on the front of iPhones and smartphones can achieve. iPad.

And then the fact remains that millions of “old” MacBooks and iMacs still have to deal with mediocre webcams. Under these conditions, why not use the camera of your smartphone, with incomparably better quality than that of the Mac? This need has generated a certain enthusiasm among developers, who have designed dedicated applications such as Camo or EpoCam.

Poor webcam on MacBooks: what solutions instead?

macOS Ventura and iOS 16 bring their own solution, with the added bonus of the glued-tight integration of hardware and software specific to Apple – some will not fail to shout at sherlocking, a recurring criticism of the manufacturer accused of drawing its ideas from the right and to the left.

We will not settle this debate here, on the other hand we can completely detail the new Continuity function which allows you to use your iPhone as a Mac webcam. Apple hasn’t done things by halves, with seamless integration of the smartphone’s camera: just bring it close to the computer for the iPhone to appear as the video app’s camera.

It only works with the iPhone, not with an iPad.

At first launch, a panel explains how things will go and what can be done with this Continuity function, which requires an iPhone 12 at least. The connection between iPhone and Mac can be wired or wireless — in this case, both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled on both devices. Last obligation: the iPhone and the Mac must of course be connected to the same Apple account.

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Select iPhone in Skype preferences. It also works in Zoom.

The function is compatible with FaceTime and already with classic video apps, and for good reason, it is integrated at a lower level of the system. Nevertheless, specific APIs are available so that developers can best exploit the possibilities of Continuity in their applications.

Once the iPhone has been transformed into the external camera of the Mac, the control center offers several options. There we find Centered Frame, which first appeared on the iPad before making its way to the Studio Display. The principle is the same, the ultra wide-angle camera follows the user so that he remains in the frame.

The iPhone’s Centered Frame also includes the very useful feature that expands the image when an additional person appears in the frame.

The Portrait option applies blur in the background, the intensity of which unfortunately cannot be adjusted. Incidentally, Continuity allows Intel Macs to take advantage of this option, which until now was the prerogative of the FaceTime camera on Mac M1s.

Finally, the Studio Lighting option illuminates the user’s face by darkening the surroundings. This will be particularly useful if you are in front of a window with the sun beating down.

It is even possible to combine the three options together!

The iPhone can be positioned in landscape format as in portrait format. In the latter case, the image gets closer to the subject.

The last option in the function menu, desk-view, is probably the most impressive of the lot. It displays what is right in front of the user: useful when you need to show the interlocutor a diagram scribbled on a piece of paper or a combination of keys on the keyboard!

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After clicking on the Desk View option from the control center, one has the option to adjust the zoom level of the image.

Apple uses the ultra-wide angle of the iPhone in a very ingenious way, and with great reinforcements of algorithms of rectification of the image and correction of distortions, it almost gives the impression that a camera is placed right at the above the document! To take advantage of this, the video application must have a “Desk View” function, as is the case with Zoom… but not FaceTime.

Desk View with iPhone under Zoom. Note that the iPhone sends two video streams: one fixed on the user, and the second for the display of what is in front of him.

Video isn’t the only stream the iPhone can transmit. Audio can also be included, just select the iPhone microphone in the settings of your favorite video calling application.

Selecting the iPhone microphone in Zoom preferences.

This new Continuity bowstring can be disabled in the settings AirPlay and Handoff from the iPhone. When the iPhone is connected to the Mac, its screen displays a simple message with a button Disconnect to find the use of the smartphone.

To make the best use of this new Continuity function, you can absolutely do without an accessory, but it is true that a support to hold the iPhone just above the Mac screen will not be too. That’s good, Belkin is going to market one:

This new feature common to iOS 16 and macOS Ventura provides further proof of the benefits of Apple’s hardware and software integration. Despite the beta status of the operating systems – quite plantogenic by the way – this new Continuity function is already very comfortable and did not cause any disaster during our tests. That does not prevent Apple from continuing to improve the webcams of its Macs…

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