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WWDC’s best demo involved turning an iPhone into a webcam

In a product demo at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple showed how the iPhone can now act as a humorously large webcam for your Mac. Called Continuity Camera, it’s a new way to bring features of the iPhone’s camera to your Mac, and the results were impressive.

Using a Belkin accessory and an iOS 16 iPhone, the demo showed how you can wirelessly attach an iPhone to the top of a MacBook or Apple monitor and use it as a webcam.

An iPhone being used in a continuity demo with a Mac laptop

To enable this function, you need only to bring your iPhone close to your Mac from any direction. It will automatically and wirelessly connect the two devices so you can use the iPhone’s main cameras as the webcam for the FaceTime calls instead of the computer or laptop cameras.

Why would you do this? Well, if you’re on an older Mac, it’d be a significant upgrade in terms of image quality. Older MacBook have only a 720p webcam, whereas the new M2 MacBook Air has an upgraded 1080p camera.

Apple also showed off a secondary benefit of Continuity Camera — and this one is just downright cool. Using the iPhone’s wide-angle lens, you can get a shot looking down at your desk as if you had a second top-down camera setup.

Continuity Camera being used in a FaceTime call.

Continuity Camera also brings other iPhone-specific camera features to show up within FaceTime on the Mac device, such as Center Stage and Portrait Mode support. There’s even a new feature called Studio Light, which lightens the face of the users and darkens the background.

Apple did not specify if Continuity Camera would function in other video-calling apps, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Apple is working with the accessory maker Belkin to create mounts for the iPhone to pair with the continuity feature for the Mac. The feature will be rolling out later this year in updates to both MacOS and iOS.

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