How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Webcam
Using your phone (old or new) as a camera for your Zoom meetings is an easy and affordable way to be visibly present if you don’t have a webcam on your laptop or PC.
A YEAR INTO THE PANDEMIC, IT’S STILL DIFFICULT TO FIND A GOOD WEBCAM AT A REASONABLE PRICE. Interacting on video has become a requirement, whether for work or a weekly virtual board game session. We’ll show you how to utilize your smartphone (old or new, Android or iOS) as an alternative in the sections below.
In addition, we have a guide on how to utilize a mirrorless camera or action cam as a webcam replacement, as well as a number of recommendations in our Best Webcams guide.
- Using an iPhone/iPad as a Webcam for Mac
- A Backup Way to Use an iPhone With a Mac
- A Backup Way to Use an Android Phone With a Mac
How to Video Call With Just Your Phone
Before attempting to transform your smartphone into a PC webcam, it may be more obvious to simply use your smartphone to host a video meeting. The majority of services, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, have Android and iPhone apps. To participate in the meeting, simply download the app, log in, and utilize your phone’s selfie camera and microphone.
Invest in a small tripod to prop your phone up so you don’t have to balance it against a stack of books, whether you do this or follow our ideas below. The Joby GripTight is a popular and inexpensive tripod with legs that can bend to stay steady on practically any surface, though a height-adjustable tripod like this would be a better choice. The Mobile Creator Lighting Kit from Lume Cube is also solid, and it includes a light panel to brighten up your face.
Ways to Use Your Phone as a Webcam
If you just need to sit in a conference and chime in every now and then, a videoconferencing app on your phone will suffice, but if you’re giving a presentation and need to share your screen, you’ll need a more sophisticated setup. If you don’t have a webcam for your desktop or if the one in your laptop isn’t working, you might use your smartphone as a webcam (or sits at a strange angle).
When installing a webcam client on your desktop PC or laptop, make sure your favourite videoconferencing app is closed. To get everything functional, you may need to reopen the app or restart your computer.
How to Use Any Phone as a Webcam for a Windows PC
If you have a Windows PC and an Android phone or iPhone, one of the simplest (and wireless) solutions is to use the DroidCam app. It’s also compatible with Linux.
DroidCam is free, but its DroidCamX software for Android hides a few features including improved video quality, contrast and sharpness tools, and more. It also removes advertisements. Using the Upgrade feature in the iPhone app’s settings, you can access similar functionality. Try the free version first, but if you use it frequently, the $5 upgrade may be worthwhile.
Steps to Set Up DroidCam:
1. On your phone, go to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store and download the app. (You must have an Android phone that is running Android 5.0 or higher.) Go to Settings > About Phone > Android Version to find out. You can check if your iPhone is running iOS 9 or later by navigating to Settings > General > About > Software Version.
2. On your PC, install the Windows client. Follow the installation instructions provided by the setup wizard.
3. On your desktop, you should see the DroidCamApp icon. To open it, double-click it. On your Android phone, open the app and provide it access to your camera and microphone. Ensure that your phone and computer are both linked to the same Wi-Fi network. (If your desktop is connected over Ethernet, it will also work.)
4. After Wi-Fi IP and DroidCam Port on the phone app, you’ll see some numbers. Fill in the Device IP and DroidCam Port fields on the PC software with these settings. Make sure that both the Video and Audio boxes are checked. Start by pressing the Start button. The camera will be launched by the phone app, and the feed will be seen on the PC client.
You must always launch the DroidCam PC client and app before it can work with your videoconferencing software (steps 4 and 5 above). Change the camera and microphone inputs to DroidCam and DroidCam Virtual Audio in your videoconferencing app’s preferences. It should begin utilising your phone’s hardware right away.
Note: DroidCam does not work with programs downloaded from the Microsoft Store on Windows. For example, instead of installing the app from the store, make sure you download the desktop client for Skype.
How to Use an iPhone/iPad as a Webcam for Windows or Mac
If you have an iPhone or iPad and wish to connect it to a Mac or Windows desktop (or both! ),Reincubate’s Camo app is my favorite free choice. It also works on both Intel and M1 Macs.
Here’s how to get it working:
1. Reincubate Camo is a free app available on the App Store (requires iOS 12 and up).
2. Allow the app to access your microphone and camera by opening it and granting it permission.
3. Send yourself a link or use AirDrop to download the Mac or Windows client from the app (or just head here). Because the Windows app is still in beta, you’ll need to provide your email address in order to receive an invite. On your computer, click the downloaded file and follow the setup instructions to install it. After the client has been installed, run it.
4. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Windows PC or Mac using a USB cable while the Camo app is active on your phone.
That is all there is to it. Open your video calling app and select Reincubate Camo as your webcam, just as you did with DroidCam. In your Mac’s settings, you can also select it as a microphone.
If you pay $40 per year or $5 per month for Camo Pro, you can unlock additional features. A lifetime membership costs $80, although most people will be satisfied with the 720p resolution of the free version.
Things to keep in mind: The Windows beta may have some issues. Additionally, while on a video call, the desktop client must be open. You can apply filters and erase the watermark using this client. Unlockable improvements include 1080p video and the option to use the iPhone’s other cameras if you pay for Camo Pro. There is currently no Android app available, but one is in the works.
Another Way to Use an iPhone/iPad With a Mac
Another free app I like is NeuralCam Live, which comes from the makers of a popular low-light camera app. It has excellent video quality, but support is limited in comparison to Camo. There is currently no Windows client (it is in development), and there is no Android app. It also doesn’t operate with later Macs that use Apple’s M1 processor (any Mac released after November 2020)—only Intel-based Macs. According to the company, a fix will be available soon.
A membership to NeuralCam Live Plus is available for $30 per year or $5 per month, but it is not required. It gets rid of advertisements, unlocks new filters, and adds a low-light option.
Here’s how to set up the free version:
1. On the App Store, get the NeuralCam Live app (requires iOS 13 and up).
2. Allow access to the camera and microphone by opening the app.
3. On your Mac, you’ll need to install a plug-in. You may AirDrop the plug-in file to your Mac via the phone app, or you can send it to yourself via email. You can also get it by clicking this link. When you open the file on your Mac, it should install immediately.
4. Use a cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac.
In your videoconferencing apps, you should now see NeuralCam Live as a camera choice. If your desktop video calling app is open, you may need to close it to see the choice. Restart your pc if that doesn’t work.
Note that, like most virtual camera services, NeuralCam Live does not work in Apple’s Safari web browser. If you want to use a service like Google Meet, you’ll need to switch to a different browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. To improve your video quality, the app employs multiple machine learning algorithms, and there are some useful features to take use of, such as Gesture Guard, which blurs yourself if you touch your face (for example, if you sneeze) or if the program detects any nudity.
Another Way to Use an Android Phone With a Mac
If you have an Android phone and wish to utilize it with a Mac, your options are limited. I previously recommended EpocCam, but my experience with it was insufficient to endorse it. I’ve tried the Iriun app and like it, albeit it’s not as feature-rich as the other two. It’s a reasonable workaround for now, but when Camo (see above) provides Android support, I’ll probably recommend it.
How to get Iriun working:
1. On the Google Play Store, get the Iriun app (requires Android 5.1 and up).
2. Allow the app to use your microphone and camera by opening it on your phone.
3. Iriun’s website has a MacOS program that you may download and install (it also supports Windows, iOS, and Ubuntu).
4. When you start the client, it should automatically link with the phone app.
You’ve completed the task! Choose Iriun as your webcam app in your videoconferencing app.
Iriun Troubleshooting Tips:
I couldn’t get the Iriun webcam to function wirelessly in my videoconferencing software at first, so I had to use a cord. If you’re still having issues after completing steps 1 through 3, consider the following suggestions.
1. On your Android phone, enable Developer Options. Go to Settings > About Phone and tap seven times on the Build number. Now go to Settings > System and look for a new Developer settings option (it might be hidden under Advanced). To discover USB debugging, tap it and scroll down a little. Turn it on by toggling the switch.
2. Using a USB cord, connect your Android phone to your Mac.
3. When you open the app on both your phone and Mac, they should instantly connect. In your videoconferencing app, Iriun should now appear as a choice (wired or wireless).
I hope you find one of these programs useful!