Phone as Webcam: Android 14 Has New Tricks Up Its Sleeve

Phone as Webcam: Android 14 Has New Tricks Up Its Sleeve

As the Pixel 8/8 Pro nears its debut, so does the eventual launch of the next version of Android. Google typically plans its software updates around new phone launches. This week, Google released Android 14 QPR1 Beta 1, essentially the dress rehearsal for the OS. Code sleuths have been digging through the new build to see what’s up and coming. One of the more exciting features is the ability to tether your phone and use it as a webcam on a laptop or computer—similar to how the new iPhone 15 tethers to a Mac. iOS devices can also do so wirelessly using Continuity Camera for the Mac.

9to5Google looked at the feature more closely yesterday, though you can try it out now by running the latest Android 14 beta on a compatible Pixel device. The option appears in the notification shade when you plug in a USB-C Cable. Tap on it to launch the specific camera tethering ability, which lets you switch between front- and rear-facing cameras and between 1x and 2x digital zoom.

9to5Google reports the Pixel 7 Pro has no option for using the built-in telephoto lens, which is a bummer. That’s precisely the kind of thing you’d want to use this feature for, and why everyone was so excited when Apple announced it for the iPhone 15 series. If you’re in a bind, the Android webcam will come in handy once this rolls out to all. 9to5Google managed to test the tethering ability with the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro but not the Pixel Fold. I also tried to get it to work on a Pixel 5 with the latest beta, but to no avail.

Besides the camera tethering ability, a few other minor features bundled into Android 14 should make the Android user’s life a little easier. For instance, the Google Pixel Fold will have some new software tweaks that make it a more fluid experience as you’re moving between the front and inside screen. You can select whether to continue using an app on the cover screen after closing the Pixel Fold rather than having it closed and dormant in the background. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold is more enticing because it already does this in its version of Android. Google added a repair mode to the Pixel that hides your most sensitive information from any repair technicians you’ve hired to fix your stuff. New lock screen styles are also coming, akin to iOS 16’s customization features. Google is even bringing back the ability to add widgets to the lock screen.

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