In a Similar Fashion to iOS and macOS’ Continuity camera feature, Android users can now transform their smartphones into webcams for their computers or even other Android devices with the latest beta version of Android. This feature allows users to connect their Android phones to Windows, Mac, Linux, or another Android device and use their phone’s camera as a webcam.

To enable this feature, users need to access the USB Preferences menu in the Android beta, where they can select the “webcam” functionality instead of the default “file transfer” option. Once activated, the phone’s camera is recognized as a webcam, enabling users to use it for video calls on platforms like Zoom.

Allowing Android phones to work as webcams via USB can be very useful when using Wi-Fi at hotels with bad wireless connectivity.

This functionality is part of the “Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1” build, which is currently in beta testing. It’s worth noting that Android’s beta program has become somewhat complex, with multiple overlapping beta versions.

The stable version at the time of this feature’s introduction is Android 13, while Android 14 is in its 10th beta/developer preview, expected to be released in October. Android 14 QPR1 (Quarterly Platform Release 1) is anticipated to arrive around December and typically includes feature updates.

Android’s 14 webcam settings. (Credit: Ron Amadeo)

More Versatile Than Apple’s Implementation

Even though this feature resembles Apple’s “Continuity Camera”, Android’s implementation is more versatile, presenting itself as a generic USB webcam that should work with a wide range of devices and operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, and possibly Linux — Users can even connect one Android phone to another and use the first phone’s camera as a webcam for the second device.

One advantage of using a smartphone as a webcam is that most phone cameras offer better image quality than the integrated cameras in thin laptop screens. However, users will need to find a suitable phone mount to position the camera correctly, and an external microphone may be necessary as the phone’s built-in microphone may not be usable with this feature at the moment. It is hoped that such issues will be addressed before the stable release of Android 14.

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