Apple Macs come with some impressive hardware, but one area often lacking is the webcam you use to make video calls. As we've seen during the pandemic, this has become a far more crucial part of our setups than we would have previously thought, because so many of us now work from home.
With this in mind, is it possible to improve the quality of your video stream without shelling out for a dedicated webcam? Well, yes, as a few clever apps can actually harness the power of your iPhone and turn it into a camera for your calls. Here's how to use an iPhone as a Mac webcam.
How to use Camo to turn your iPhone into a webcam
There are several apps available that can use your iPhone as a webcam; two of the most popular are Epoccam and Reincubate's Camo. Both offer basic features for free, but Camo provides a more rounded experience without needing to spend money.
Download the Camo app to your iPhone and visit the Camo website to also download the accompanying Mac app. Follow the instructions for installing both, then you'll be ready to get things up and running.
To get the two apps working in harmony you'll need to launch the Mac version then attach your iPhone via a cable to the laptop or iMac. You should now see a message asking permission to use the two together (or possibly to update the iPhone version), so agree to that and your face should appear in the main window of the Mac version.
Although the free version does place a lot of limitations on the features you can access, you're still able to make calls and have your iPhone act as the camera running at 720p HD. The interface is all controlled from the Mac app, with the iPhone taking all its cues from there.
At the top of the lefthand column you'll find the few settings you can change. These include selecting the iPhone as the active camera (in the Source menu), plus the ability to choose whether you use the front or rear lenses.
There is a Resolution option, which defaults to 720p HD, but to access the higher settings such as 1080p FHD you'll need to upgrade to the Pro tier, which costs £34.99/$39.99. To do this, click the Upgrade button at the top-right.
Alongside improved optics, going Pro will also unlock being able to mirror your camera (flip the image so it acts like a mirror), remove the Camo watermark, set the flash level so it acts as in-room lighting, plus a wide range of control over the colour and tone of the footage.
That being said, we found the free version to be an excellent option if you don't mind the (subtle) watermark. Camo is compatible with a number of video-calling apps, including Zoom, Meet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype, Twitch and many others, although it doesn't support FaceTime or logging into browser-based calls on Safari.
When we used Zoom to test the app, we first had to check for updates on both Camo and Zoom as the camera option wasn't showing. Once Zoom had been updated, we were able to go to the app settings and, under Video, select Reincubate Camo, which worked perfectly for the duration of the call.
So there you have it: a quick and easy way to beef up the video quality on your calls. If you prefer to go down the hardware route instead, you'll want to take a look at our guide to the best Mac webcams.