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Android 14 might turn your smartphone into a webcam

Published Feb 6th, 2023 8:17PM EST
iPhone webcam for Mac via Continuity Camera feature.
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple introduced Continuity Camera last year, a feature that lets you turn the iPhone’s rear-facing camera into a sophisticated Mac webcam. You need to be running iOS 16 on your iPhone and macOS Ventura on your computer to upgrade your webcam experience for Zoom calls, FaceTime, and improvised hands-on videos. On Android, you’ll have to wait for Android 14 to turn your phone into a webcam. But the feature is apparently in the works.

The first Android 14 developer preview isn’t far at this point. That means we’ll soon see lots of leaks detailing the features that Google is developing for this year’s big software upgrade. One of them is support for turning the Android phone into a webcam.

That’s a feature missing from the Android operating system, but something achievable on Android if you tweak with the phone and install the right apps. However, doing that will require rooting the handset, as Android Central reports. That’s an extra hassle for regular Android users who won’t care much about such procedures.

It would be easier to purchase a more expensive webcam rather than turning your Android phone into a webcam. Or you can wait for Android 14 to drop if the recent findings are accurate.

According to Mishaal Rahman, Android 14 might introduce a service called “DeviceAsWebCam.” He already found the service in the most recent AOSP repository. As the name implies, the service turns the Android phone’s rear camera into a webcam.

However, it looks like you’ll need to connect the Android 14 device to the computer via USB. That’s a different take than Apple’s Continuity Camera. You can use an iPhone as a webcam wirelessly without requiring a cable. The service works via USB as well. The wired connection should also recharge the iPhone’s battery. The Mac will also warn users if the iPhone battery level gets low.

While it’s easy for Apple to connect its devices for such experiences, Google doesn’t have the same luxury. We’d speculate that using Android 14 as a webcam should work with all types of computers. From Windows to Chrome OS to Mac.

As for Google copying Apple’s Continuity Camera, using a smartphone’s primary camera as a webcam can certainly come in handy.

The pandemic increased the popularity of video chats, whether it’s for work, school, or talking with friends and family. Smartphones have significantly better cameras than laptops and PCs. Using them to improve video conferencing experiences on traditional computers makes a lot of sense.

Mounting the smartphone as a webcam on your computer will be the real challenge, once Android 14 enables the feature.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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