One of the best things I can do with my iPhone 14 is use it instead of my laptop's rather rubbish webcam – and it seems that Android users will be able to do the same in Android 14.
This is good news for anyone who needs to do video calling and owns one of the best Android phones, because while smartphone firms have invested millions in their device cameras you can't really say the same about a lot of laptop manufacturers.
For example the webcam in my M1 MacBook Pro - which was, and still is, a pretty expensive laptop – is just 720p. The camera in my iPhone 14 Pro is 48MP. And that's before you take the image sensor, multiple lens options and other differences into consideration.
Imagine sitting with all the power of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra on your desk but having to use a crappy laptop camera instead.
I think it's fair to say that for the vast majority of people, your phone will make you look better in video calls than your laptop's webcam will. So this new feature is a pretty big deal.
How will your Android phone work as a webcam?
As developer Mishaal Rahman posted on Mastodon (opens in new tab), there's code in the latest Android 14 build for a new "DeviceAsWebcam" service that "turns an Android device into a webcam".
I hope this makes it into the final release, because having used Apple's implementation I know that it's really convenient and really useful. It's just a matter of putting your phone somewhere where it won't make you look like you have an enormous chin – there are dedicated mounts from the likes of Belkin to work with laptops and desktop displays – and selecting your phone as the camera. And that's it. In my case the difference is dramatic: I still look like someone who lives in a bin, but I no longer look like someone who lives in a bin and who should probably see a doctor pronto.
Android 14 doesn't have a release date but going by previous versions we'd expect it to launch in August 2023, with betas in the Spring. No doubt we'll hear a lot more about the camera support then.