Android could steal a useful iPhone feature to turn your phone into a webcam
New code found in AOSP implies a new webcam functionality may be coming to Android.
What you need to know
- Your Android device may be able to act as a USB webcam soon.
- New code found in AOSP indicates the functionality could be built-in with compatible Android handsets.
- It's unclear when this functionality will be available on Android.
During the pandemic, many people found ways to use their smartphones as default cameras to attend meetings or take countless Zoom calls. On iPhone users, users have the Continuity Camera feature that lets them use their devices to do just that in a Mac. For Android phones, the methods usually include using a third-party app to make it work, however, it looks like Google may address this soon with a new capability built into Android.
According to Mishaal Rahman, Android may soon support turning your phone into a USB webcam. He has found a new service dubbed "DeviceAsWebCam" in the recent AOSP repository that "turns an android device into a webcam."
Using an Android phone as a webcam became really popular during the pandemic, but you've typically had to install a third-party app to do so. You may not have to do this in the future, though, as Google is adding support for turning Android devices into USB webcams!February 2, 2023
According to Rahman, the only requirement here is that the Android device should "support the standard UVC (USB video class) gadget mode will be able to send video data that hosts can read from /dev/video* nodes."
Rahman indicates that there will be a system property "ro.usb.uvc.enabled" that will toggle UVC gadget functionality on Android devices, which is further readable by system apps like the Settings app, for example.
The UVC gadget is new for an Android device, but Rahman says plenty of third-party apps offer similar functionality. But it is still good to see your phones enabling it by default though an app or service is still needed to send video data from your camera to the hosted device, like a laptop, for instance.
Do note you'll still need an app/service to send video data from the camera to the /dev/video* node for the host device to read from. I don't know what this'll look like in Android 14, if this feature lands at all in that release, but it's something I'll definitely look out for!February 2, 2023
Users have to tweak around and compile their kernels to enable the functionality. But for that, users need root access and an app dubbed USB Gadget Tool.
Many of us wouldn't want to go through such a hassle. Instead, we'll have to wait for the feature to go live, which could happen within Android 14 as Rahman suggests. Also, this new functionality could finally make you look better in your Zoom or Google Meet calls than the standard webcams of your work laptops, which is a plus.
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The new Galaxy S23 Ultra features a whopping 200MP camera that can get you great low-light images, enhanced zoom, and more detail in every photo. The built-in S Pen also helps you stay productive and the new Snapdragon chip gives you a boost in performance.
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Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.