How To Use Your Phone as a Webcam (On Mac & Windows)
The world of technology is a massively interconnected exploration into making human life easier. From the android smartphones we use to the smart assistants in our homes to the way our cars use our location to tell us how to get where we’re supposed to be going, technology is a master class in ease of use. Software and hardware designers are always striving to achieve the next level in technological advances because being on the cutting edge is what sets companies apart and makes them successful.
The biggest indicator of success in the world of tech is finding a piece of technology that allows multiple devices or pieces of software to integrate with one another, combining the strengths of both to overcome the weaknesses of either. One such example of this is the growing popularity of the use of our Android phones or iPhones as webcams. Whether you’re on your laptop, your desktop, or just on your phone itself, it’s possible to harness the powerful camera and image processing inside your phone as a camera input on your other devices rather than having to resort to the poor image quality inherent in onboard webcams.
In this article, let’s discuss how you can begin to use your phone as the best webcam possible through the use of Droidcam apps or IOS apps, what investments you need to make in order to get started, and an accessory that will change the game.
Why Use Your Android Phone or iPhone for a Webcam?
There are many reasons that people have considered using their phones as their webcam in the recent past, and a lot of it actually boils down to availability. Given the current global pandemic and the resulting boom of companies sending their employees to work from home, global demand for computer hardware skyrocketed, and supply simply could not keep up. This led to shortages across the board for many semiconductor manufacturers, computer hardware manufacturers, and even peripherals companies such as Logitech, one of the largest providers of external and third-party webcams in the world.
However, people working from home are often required to be on their webcam for a variety of activities including meetings, client calls, and sales pitches, and for many people, keeping connected through video calls was the only way to stay in touch with loved ones and friends. In short, the best reason to consider using your phone as your webcam input source is that you simply don’t have another option!
Some other reasons people consider using their phone as a webcam on their Mac or Windows computer is that the onboard webcam is just bad, but that will be discussed shortly.
So while there is a global shortage of available webcams, there are other options, such as free apps that you can find in the Google Play store or the App Store.
Using Software and Webcam Apps
If you find yourself using your phone as a camera without connecting it to your computer, you certainly are not alone. Thanks to the rise in video conferencing apps around the world, it has become rather commonplace to see people in a video call or business meeting on their phone rather than sitting at a traditional desk. This allows people to network on the fly using video chat apps such as EpocCam, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype for Business, or any number of other collaborative video or webcam apps.
Given this extra level of flexibility, it makes sense that some people would simply prefer to make the switch away from sitting at a Mac or Windows laptop or a desktop all day. Taking advantage of gadgets that give you the ability to move around can free you up to do a lot of other things around the house, can get your legs moving, and can provide a much-needed change of scenery.
After all, one of the most difficult things about working from home is that it becomes much harder to maintain a feasible work/life balance and separating the responsibilities of work-life from those of home life. Being able to take your work with you and use your smartphone’s webcam to handle work business is definitely a bonus.
Webcam and Video Quality
However, let’s say you’re the kind of person who does prefer to be working in one place as that’s what helps you focus the most. So you sit down at your desk in your workspace or your office with your laptop and you try to join a video call. However, when you log in, all you see is choppy, jittery footage that seems out of focus and is extremely low resolution. The average onboard wireless webcam resolution is incredibly low, and the majority of productivity or lower-end laptops do not have the processing power to dedicate resources to recording, encoding, and simultaneously uploading and downloading webcam footage.
Doing all of this at once requires quite a beefy computer system, and that’s just with a low-resolution 720p webcam. Your phone is probably capable of recording at least 1080p (if not even 4K) video footage, and so immediately the phone is at an advantage and gives you an edge when it comes to video calls on apps such as Microsoft Teams.
So if you find yourself with poor webcam or video quality due to the age or value of your Mac or Windows laptop, don’t panic! Using your iPad, iPhone, or Android phone with a Droidcam is always an option.
Streaming Video from Your Phone With a Wifi Connection
One of the easiest and most commonplace ways to use your phone as your webcam while still being at your computer (arguably the best of both worlds) is using a mobile app to stream the front-facing camera footage directly to your computer over your wifi network. Here’s a quick guide to both Windows and Mac users to get you started on the right foot:
For Windows PC, Linux, or Android Device Users: An Android app called DroidCam allows users on either Windows or Linux to download a simple Dev47 App and then give the computer permission to access the phone’s onboard camera and microphone. After following some simple steps and inputting the device IP address and DroidCam port listed on the android smartphone in the camera app into your computer, you’ll have everything you need to launch the webcam and you’ll be able to use your Android phone's camera feed on your PC!
- For Apple/Mac Users: The process is slightly more complicated for AppleOS users than for Chrome or Microsoft browser users, but still possible. Using an application called Reincubate’s Camo app, you can actually plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac computer using a USB cable and access the camera directly over a wired connection! Once you download the pro-version app on both IOS devices and make sure you’ve given the proper permissions, you’ll be good to go!
Using the Proper Lighting
As with any of the best webcam setups, the camera quality is only going to be as good as the lighting allows. If you find yourself using your phone's camera in any professional sense, make sure you either sit somewhere with adequate lighting or invest in an LED light of some kind to make sure your face is illuminated enough so that you can still be seen clearly.
Setting Up a Phone Stand
Once you’ve got your lighting and video settings right, the last thing to do is make sure your angles are correct. While getting the correct angle while filming with your phone's camera can seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be!
Enter SkyFloat, the ultimate tablet and phone holder, designed to hang from your ceiling and give you full control over height, angle, and orientation. Thanks to a unique magnetic ceiling plate mounting design, the SkyFloat can be moved to pretty much anywhere in your house or office space with ease! Setup is incredibly simple, so look into setting up a SkyFloat for yourself to make sure you’ve got the best possible angles next time you use your phone as a webcam!