- Google’s latest Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 update allows Pixel users to use their phones as webcams for desktops or laptops, streamlining the process without requiring additional app downloads.
- The webcam capability works through a USB connection, allowing compatibility with various desktop platforms, such as PC, Mac, Chromebook, and Linux.
- Using a smartphone as a webcam offers better video quality, higher resolution, improved microphones, and the ability to use multiple camera angles, surpassing the capabilities of USB webcams.
Google has released the Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 update for Pixel devices with plenty of fixes and a bunch of new features. But for PC users, the standout feature in this update is the ability to use their phones as webcams for their computers. Pixel devices, except for Pixel Fold, running Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 can now use their phone’s camera as a webcam for their desktops or laptops.
By offering the ability to connect to your Android phone and use it as a webcam as an in-built solution, Google is looking to streamline the process. It won’t require you to download any apps from the Google Play Store; all that’s needed is an Android phone running Android 14 and a USB cable to establish the connection. However, the new camera capability doesn’t work wirelessly, which gives Apple’s Continuity Camera an edge.
The requirement of a USB cable isn’t all that bad, though. In fact, it ensures that you can use the webcam capability no matter which desktop platform you are on. As pointed out by 9to5google, Google’s built-in webcam solution is based on the USB Video Class (or UVC) standard, which allows for no platform restrictions, meaning you can plug your Android phone into a PC, a Chromebook, a Mac, or even a Linux PC to attend a video call.
For the best video calling experience, you’ll need to choose from the best smartphone cameras available in the market. They have better video processing mechanisms than the best webcams, resulting in improved video quality. Not only do they produce higher-resolution video but also offer better microphones for high-quality sound capture. Another benefit of using your phone as a webcam is that you can use it with multiple camera angles, which is way more than what a USB webcam offers.
As for how Android 14’s webcam capability works, you’ll need to plug your phone into a computer and tap Charging this device via USB in the notification drawer. Now, in the Use USB for section, there is a new Webcam option to select. Your phone will now display a notification telling you to configure the webcam, and tapping on it will open an app on your phone to show the preview and tweak the video feed. You’ll be able to choose different zoom options and switch between front and rear-facing cameras.
Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 is available only to Pixel devices, which, in turn, means only those devices can use the feature right now. That said, it’s not a Pixel-exclusive feature, which means any Android phone meeting the requirements can be used as a webcam. Android 14’s webcam capability is currently under development, and whatever we see now is not final. Google might bring more enhancements to it before releasing Android 14 to the public.
The Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 has more to offer. As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, you can force apps like Instagram to go full-screen by changing their aspect ratio on your Pixel tablet and Pixel Fold devices. You also get the manufacture date and cycle count of your phone’s battery in Settings. The ability to set live wallpapers on the lock screen, “Metro” clock style, “floating search bar” in Pixel Launcher, and keeping apps open when you close your foldable phone are some of the other noteworthy features that were spotted on Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1 update.
Google is expected to release the Android 14 update on October 4, which is also the same day as Google’s upcoming hardware event, where the Mountain View tech giant will also announce new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro devices.